Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A LIfe Without Running...

Imagine if you will, a life without running.

Maybe you can.

I've given it some thought. I've had a tough go of it this summer. I've finally conceded to this relentless PF and pulled back on my mileage and my pacing. By doing so, I've lost a lot of fitness. Combine that with the heat and humidity of summer and my runs have been really tough.

I miss those easy 8-10 milers that I normally run on the weekends.

I miss the fast paced 5-6 milers I bust out during the week.

I miss training for a race.

Right now, I'm happy if I can finish 4 miles without stopping to walk.

I blame the weather and PF but is there more contributing to my problems with running?

Is this the inevitable slowdown that comes with aging? Can I accept that? Should I just hang up my shoes?


People do stop running as they get older. The proof is in the numbers. When I moved from the 45-49 age group into my current old lady group, the drop in the number of participants was dramatic. Arthritis happens. All that wear and tear on the joints takes a toll.



Running has never been easy for me. I don't come from a long line of athletes. Sure, as kids we ran and played from sun up to sundown. But I never formally "ran". I grew up in the 1970s and girls weren't expected to be athletic. There were always girls who ran track and cross country, but the running boom was only beginning.

I started running in my 20s and once I became conditioned I asked myself, what took me so long?

Even though I didn't come from a long heritage of runners or athletes, I soon found that running was actually something I was pretty good at.

I was never super fast, but I held my own. My nerves were the one thing that kept me from pushing my limits. I probably never realized my potential. Which is fine, because I avoided a lot of the injuries that plague some of those more competitive runners.

I never won a race or even came close to placing but running gave me so much more. Calm, confidence, and fitness.

I've had some fun and success with running. In my 50s, I've even had some PRs and AG awards. I've connected with a lot of like-minded runners and made a lot of new friends.

But with the persistence of this plantar fasciitis--we are approaching almost a year of pain--I wonder. Should I give it up?

Maybe the question should be CAN I give it up?

Running has become part of me. Running is who I am. I'm down but not out. It's just PF, although dammit, it needs to go away!

This too will pass, right?

I can't imagine my life without running.

Could you consider giving up running or any other passion? Can you imagine a life without it? Is running part of your heritage?

I'm linking today's post with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is heritage. I have to admit I struggled a lot with this word prompt, trying to link it to a running theme. I could have written about my German heritage. But this is a running blog...











I'm also linking up with Michelle, Nicole, Annmarie, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!











And with Susie, Rachel, Lora, and Debbie for Coaches Corner! So many posts, so little time.











93 comments :

  1. I have, in fact, thought so much about this. Your running is my resistance training.
    Even though I no longer body build. Even though I don't have a consistent plan. I would be really sad to give it up entirely.

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    1. I think this is the hardest part of getting older! How long can we keep going? Not ready to give up yet...

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  2. Here comes the stubborn Marcia answer: In mile 12 of RnR Dublin my suck monkeys were screaming "NO MORE! THIS IS THE LAST ONE! ENOUGH ALREADY!" But I won't give in to them. Yeah I ran as a kid and a teen then went on hiatus for 15 years or so but I've always thought of myself as a runner. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A RUNNER. Yes injuries come and go and our running changes and maybe we run less or don't race. But in your heart YOU ARE ALWAYS A RUNNER. This PF is life's way of challenging you. Can't run as you did? Come at it in a different way. As we age we need to shuffle the deck a little and find fitness and joy and fulfillment in a new way. Be stubborn in your mindset and the way you approach life and you will always land on your feet. That's what I tell myself, anyway. Lunch soon!

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    1. YES! I knew you'd come through for me. We're going to run into old age kicking and screaming. Right?

      I just love you.

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  3. This WILL pass! You WILL be back to running, I know it! I had my summer of (almost) no running last year. I learned how to cope but I'm glad it wasn't a permanent situation!

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  4. Yes, this too will pass. I've got a feeling you'll figure out a way to stay with it for a LONG time. A life without running feels sad!

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    1. I know I should be content with my shorter distances but I miss miss miss my LSD. What can I say? #endurancejunkie

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  5. Have you thought about maybe focusing on more mid-distance races vs half marathons or marathons? That way you can still run but you won't have all the wear and tear that comes with logging long miles.

    I hope that you are able to continue to run because I know how much you love it!

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    1. I'm going to keep trying. But it gets frustrating at times.

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  6. Your comments about the age group divisions has me intrigued.....when I bumped into the 45-49 division, suddenly my competition seemed to get tougher! These old gals are badass. So, that will diminish in a few years? Thankfully, I'm still holding my own....my speed has kind of plateaued, but has not really slowed (that I can observe, objectively). #fingerscrossed

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    1. Those old ladies who keep running are fast! I find that so interesting.

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  7. I can completely understand your frustration. I would say you (we) can enjoy running into our 50's but I do think we may need to alter our expectations. Perhaps not doing as many longer runs and taking longer to recover between them. PS no one would say you have lost your fitness. You are one of my fitness idols :)

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    1. My fitness has shifted to strength--I do miss my endurance. I'm hoping to get it back once the weather cools off and my foot calms down.

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  8. If you love it, of course don't give up. Perhaps you just need to adjust. I often wonder how running will affect me as I age. I wonder if the aches and pains are always from running or just a sign of getting older anyway!

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    1. The yoga helps with the aches and pains for sure. You know I'll keep going. I guess I have to accept a new norm.

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  9. Well, I'm an older lady than you, battle that knee pain (amongst a variety of other pains), but I plan to keep on going as long as I can. I know how frustrating PF can be, having battled it myself years ago. After 3 cortisone shots (2 in one foot, 1 in the other, which didn't help, btw), it took a knee injury and about six weeks completely off running to heal. That may sound depressing, but the bright side is that after that I've had no more problems with my feet, so looking back, the short term time off was well worth the long term benefits.

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    1. I know...I know...and the lower mileage has definitely helped it calm down. I'm just frustrated with how long I've been dealing with it. And you know as well as I do that time off at our age makes it a lot harder to come back.

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  10. I know many people take up biking to stay active if their knees can't handle running. I'm a later runner since I always had to do it for sports, but it was never fun. Once I found the fun, I was like you and thought "what took me so long." Injuries remind me how much I love it.

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    1. I'm grateful not to have knee issues. At least I've got that, right?

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  11. I'm wondering the same things. I love running and feeling like a runner, but I have plenty of issues caused by it that just plain piss me off! Mostly knee issues. I haven't been running that long, on and off for 10 years or so, a lot of off. I'm just going to keep trying for now. Sorry about your PF :(

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    1. I'll never quit--I'm pretty sure of that, but this is very frustrating. Interesting how many people have the same issues and thoughts!

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  12. I don't really want to think of a time that I have to stop running. If it makes you feel any better, the hot weather has made it a rough go for me as well. I do hope your PF calms down soon and the cooler fall temps make running a bit easier!

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    1. It does make me feel better to hear other people struggling with the heat. This summer has been brutal!

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    2. I have an ongoing hip injury. Feels sciatic but each time I take longer to recover. I'm 47 and have been running for 15 years. I hate it when I can't run but the pain is too intense.

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  13. PF is the worst. You've had a hard battle with it but I'm sure you will win it.

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  14. I've had a similar summer - various injuries have kept me from running much at all. I also really, really miss those weekend long runs and the dark, early morning midweek runs. I didn't start running until 41 (45 now) and I am very injury prone. Every time I get injured I have such a strong sense of time being wasted and running out. And I always think that maybe I'm just not cut out for it, but I just can't bear the thought of giving it up. It's funny that you said "what took me so long?" in your 20s! Multiply that by 20 years for me :)

    But anyway, please don't stop running, you always give me hope.

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    1. You are so kind--I won't stop, can't stop. When I think about it, I get so sad! Injuries suck.

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  15. Never give up!!!!! We have so much in common- I also grew up in the 70s, wasn't athletic, discovered running as an adult (well, late teen)and have been running ever since- off and on because I too have had my fair share of injuries. Some of them went on so long I wondered if I would ever run again, but I always did. There's a solution for you, you just haven't found it yet. Keep reading and researching everything you possibly can, and you'll find that piece of the puzzle that will work for you. (one of the few injuries I've never had is PF so unfortunately I have no words of wisdom for you there.) This is our time to shine and get on the podium, we 50-plus-ers who refuse to give up! You can do it.

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    1. This was the best pep talk yet! I love how many of us are still out there running. I don't want to give up, and comments like yours just reinforce that feeling. Thank you!

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  16. Don't give up! But do find the time to heal. You are so strong, and other than PF, from what I read here, super fit and healthy!

    I cannot imagine giving up running and / or zumba.

    I saw this on Sunday Morning last week, and it motivated me to keep going. Check it out if you have a moment.

    https://youtu.be/AoTg_poY5Vs

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    1. I appreciate the video--I will check it out tomorrow (when my son is in surgery!) Looks like I"ll have the time..

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  17. I haven't read any of the comments but they are probably saying the same thing I'm going to say...this is just a phase. Given enough time off to get your PF healed, you'll be back to feeling like your former runner self and you'll look back at this time as just a blip on your running radar. I can somewhat confidently say this because I've drastically scaled back on my running distances for the past 4-5 months (I'm talking running 2-3 miles a few times during the week, and 3-4 as my long runs) and my PF/Achilles issues are finally feeling better. It just takes that blasted time off to heal certain injuries, and we both know that's really hard to do. You'll be back //Ahnold

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    1. Exactly. I don't want to take the time off! And I have been and I miss it.

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  18. I used to hate running, but now I can't imagine life without it. When I was injured in 2014 and couldn't run for 3 months, I was going crazy. I hope this passes and you can get back to running. Even if marathons and super long runs aren't in the cards, I hope you can still get out there for some meditative miles.

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    1. It's almost like my body is bringing me back full circle to the reason I started running in the first place. Not that I like it...

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  19. This is so well written.
    I have not been running for years, just four years or so. I went my whole adult life feeling like I wasn't strong enough to run. I wasted a lot of time and then I finally started and of course felt so much better in so many ways. I feel like I just started, I have things I want to accomplish! I am not done with running yet. Having pain plague you for so long is draining though.
    We are on the same time line almost, I started having pain in the balls of my feet last summer and it didn't take long until it took me completely out. Since the nature of this issue is degenerative tissue and ligaments I worry about how much longer i will have. I already made the transition mentally to be ok with going slower and using intervals. I am happy as long as i can do something, but the thought of not running at all I am not ready to deal with yet. It pops into my mind and I try to shut it down. I do have my moments though where i just want to pull my hair out!
    I get up each day and try to believe I will beat the aging process for awhile longer, I know I can't do it forever, but I plan to go down fighting :)
    I admire all your strength and determination. I hope you have some relief soon. I know you are a fighter and i hope one day you wake up and that awful pain is gone.

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    1. I hope both of our feet behave and let us do our thing. I'm going down fighting too!

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  20. I really hope you don't give up running. I'm hoping your PF clears up soon and you'll be back out there! I hope to be able to run for the rest of my life...I started in my mid-20's so I feel like there's so much more to see and do!

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    1. Even at this point, where I've done almost everything running-wise that I wanted to, I don't want to quit. I'm not ready yet.

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  21. I definitely do not think you have to give it up! Going though a period of being injured is the worst and PF is especially brutal (speaking from experience) but running is such a huge part of who you are, I cannot fathom this is going to be the end!

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    1. Me either. Hoping for some relief from the foot pain and the tropical running conditions!

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  22. You said running has become a part of me. You will always be a runner. I'm sure it hard to be forced to stop your usual routine... You will prevail... And besides we need to race together someday... So you can kick my butt! Hugs to you.

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    1. Yeah, I guess we do need to run together! So you can kick my butt! LOL!

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  23. Wendy- you are such a breath of positivity when it comes to running- I absolutely love your blog and your posts and I am praying for a speedy recovery!

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    1. Thank you! I'm going to run out of things to write about if I don't get my mojo back!

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  24. Oh my!!! Like every single word resonates here. I even wrote to my email list recently "I'm a runner. If I can't run, then what am I??" I mean, it's so much of my identity but after my last half marathon in May my knee started giving me problems. I thought with backing off and doing more biking, it would come around. But it hasn't!! X-rays say arthritis, bone spurs, loss of cartilage. MRI this morning because it's still not getting much better with meds. I just want to run!!! Like you, I don't come from a running background, I'm not super fast, but I've been doing it for years and love it. It. Is. Who. I. Am! I'm not ready to hang it up. I'm signed up for 2 half marathons yet this year. It's what I do. A typical year is 3-6 halfs plus other races. In 2013, I did 13 halfs! It's not time to give it up yet! Let's fight for this ;-)

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    1. Kicking and screaming, we'll not go down without a fight, right?

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  25. My heritage would be more along the lines of obesity and living a sedentary life. I often wonder how many years I have left to run. But then I remember, in my younger years I never imagined I'd still be skiing at this age either. Let's just defy those stupid odds! Kicking and Screaming, Sista. Kicking and Screaming!!

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    1. I stole your line for my response to Marsha above! Yep, kicking and screaming!

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  26. You and I are in the same age group, and the women that run here in Hawaii are tough to beat! Give it up? Nope. Change your expectations? Probably. The best thing I did was drop down to running no more than 3 days a week and spending 2-3 days on the bike.

    My running heritage is like the old joke: "It's not that obesity runs in your family... it's that no one runs in your family!" I have one aunt who has been a runner for years, other than that I'm the odd ball of the group. And I didn't get started until my 30s.

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    1. I guess changing my expectations is my issue. I've always run 4 days/week--but yep, maybe every other day is going to be the thing...

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  27. Oh wow. I needed to read this. I haven't run since June because of a hip injury. I have been able to bike and that is partially saving my sanity and partially delaying my recovery. Then again I remember how much I really hate running in the heat and humidty and think, ah it is nice not to run, then I think well I'll be re-learning how to run in the heat of August... and I'm really not sure how I feel about that.

    I see a lot of dropping running down to 3 days a week and filling in with strenght training, like all these exercises I'm to do to strenghten my hips to not have this mess happen again!!

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    1. Not running in the heat and humidity is somewhat of a silver lining, right? Except that we don't get to run. I think running every other day might be in the cards for me and yep, that homework...

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  28. I've been there. I've felt like giving up. But I can't. I am a runner and so are you. Being fast is relative. To me you are fast. To others, you are not. Still you are a runner.

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    1. When I think of quitting, I think of you...kicking ass and taking names!

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  29. I can't imagine my life without running. I hope you find something that works to heal your PF so you can keep going. xxoo (PS Graston and ART!)

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    1. Pain to get rid of pain? It just seems wrong to me... isn't there a magic pill I can take? :p

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  30. I have felt this way so many times. But I couldnt imagine a life without running. Even if I tried to give it up, I think I would eventually find myself back out there anyway. Injuries that last as long as yours will really make you question everything. I remember when I hit the year mark of having piriformis syndrome. It's really crazy that certain things can stick around for that long.

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    1. Crazy and frustrating! I don't think I could give it up totally. Like someone said above, it's about adjusting expectations. I may need to do that.

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  31. It would be hard... as much as I enjoy some other forms of exercise, nothing is the same as running outside...when I don't run for 3 days, I really feel it and miss it. I hope this is temporary! You don't need to run marathons and races, but you need to be able to run out your door for a good 5 mile run. I'd be fine never running another race.

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    1. I don't need to race, but I sure like it!

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  32. I am sorry you are dealing with PF. I have been fortunate enough (at least so far) to have experienced it but it sounds awful. I would be really sad if I couldn't run anymore. Not to say I don't have days (especially when it's cold and icy) that I don't want to run, but it is so much a part of me that I would be lost without it. Not to mention, I would probably be really crabby, too :) I listened to your podcast a little while ago and really enjoyed it!

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    1. Thank you! The podcast was fun, and talk about timing--I listened to my own words today and it was kind of a pick me up! I was so flattered to be asked to participate on his show.

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  33. Oh Wendy, I'm sorry to hear this. I have scaled back BIG time this year and I have found other things that I have learned to love almost as much! I've been hitting the weights hard and have definitely fallen in love with it. I can never give up running completely, but this break has made me realize that there ARE other things out there besides running!

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    1. You know I love my strength training, but it just doesn't give me that boost I get from running.

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  34. Have you looked into shockwave therapy or dry needling? I am SO, SO sorry you are dealing with the crappy PF, but I am dealing with it too. Do not give up hope!!! You can DO THIS. Try dry needling. I have had 3 sessions and I believe it is working. I am still running slow easy miles and I have to be patient. Is is hard as I am training for a December marathon!! Anyway, also look into shockwave therapy. Did you get an MRI to make sure it isn't anything torn in your foot? How about different running shoes? What are you currently running in? Also, are you stretching your calves several times a day? They say the root of the problem is tight calves. I am sure you know all of this, but trying to brainstorm options... Thinking of you. I totally get it. Let me know if you need anything. I am willing to do anything to get rid of it. I haven't done shockwave yet. Running is your passion - you will find a way through this dark time. xoxox

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    1. Interesting that you should mention shockwave--I used that the last time I battled PF and yes, it worked! This bout is different--the pain is in a different part of the plantar fascia--and so I haven't gone back to that podiatrist. There are other reasons I've avoided going back to that podiatrist as well. But yes, it has been on my mind.

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  35. I was forced to come to terms with a life without running over the past year. It sucks, but you can get through it. Sometimes, you don't have a choice. I"m so sorry that you are going through this. So, so sorry. I understand the pain and frustration and worry and anxiety all too well.

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    1. I know you get it! Actually, I was surprised at the response to this post. Clearly there are a lot of us out there suffering silently.

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  36. Everyone that knows me knows that I enjoy running and I've been running for 10 years. I have thought about it because this summer has been tough (running more than ever) so I find myself being tired and sore all of the time. I've been fascinated with the swimming competitions at the Olympics and have thought about that doing instead.

    I am so sorry you are dealing with PF. But look on the positive side that maybe now it is just a time for you to focus on something else? It is funny how our bodies lets us know that we need a break.

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    1. I think those high mileage plans do lend themselves to burn out. Actually all marathon training does--I always am so tired of running when I'm in training. Yet I miss it! Crazy, right?

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  37. I can imagine it and am actually living it. I am a half fanatic that would run several half marathons a year until two years ago when I decided to become a competitive bikini bodybuilder. Long distance and competing do not go hand in hand. Do i miss it? A little but I do run 3 miles 5-6 days a week. Do I hope to run another half marathon or Ragnar (I've run two and a SC 100 mile relay)? Yes. But not right now. Sorry you are dealing with some things but don't see it as the end of it all. See if you can find joy in some other way to get your fitness in that makes you feel good.

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    1. You are right about running and muscle building not being best friends! I do strength training, and I love the results I'm getting but it isn't my love like running.

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  38. I am struggling with this right now too and I just turned 30. Stupid foot pain I got when training for Big Sur is still lingering a bit even after taking off a long time from running! I am now scared to try and run long distance.

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    1. I didn't realize you were still suffering too! I'm glad I got to run Big Sur but I'm sure I didn't do myself any favors.

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  39. This will pass Wendy! I know it totally sucks right now - I have to admit after spending a good part of 2015 injured I seriously considered shifting my fitness focus to something else. Being injured takes a toll mentally, but I know you'll be back to running.

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    1. I know I will too. That was kind of the whole point of the post, really. I can't imagine not running.

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  40. Do you have to give it up completely? What is the LONGEST you gave up running in efforts to curb your PT? I don't think I was a reader when you first got PF.

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    1. I don't plan on giving it up completely! But I am so frustrated by this!

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  41. The Accidental MarathonerAugust 12, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    You are a runner, and a runner you will always be! You are down but not out. The fact that you are still getting at least some running in shows your stamina and determination. Like you and so many others have said; you just have to change your expectations. You will continue to run--just differently. Hopefully with time and healing you can build back up to the long runs you love. Luckily you have your yoga and strength training to keep you going. And yes...the silver lining is you are not out there in this God-awful heat and humidity!

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    1. I just took the dog out and gah! that humidity hit me. I'm really having to dig deep to even get out to do 4 this morning! LOL!

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  42. After doing every stretch I could think of and then resorting to physical therapy, I couldn't find any relief for my two-year-long lingering plantar fasciitis until I got custom orthotics (in 2010). Within two weeks I found relief and have been able to keep it at bay as long as I only wear shoes with support and always wear my orthotics for running and anytime I'm on my feet for long periods of time. They're not cheep $450/pair and insurance wouldn't pay a cent, but worth every penny. I bought two pairs - one for my running shoes and one for my other sneakers that I work in. I'm assuming that being in the medical profession, you've already looked into custom orthotics and they haven't helped. If you haven't, I highly recommend checking it out.

    Around here, my age group is booming! We had 59 women in my 55-59 age group at the Firecracker 5K and I finished fourth with a time of 25:20, and the winner of our age group finished in 20:14. BUT, I hear you on the slowing down...

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I had custom orthotics my last go round with PF and not only did they not help, they off loaded my stride onto my big toe, which led to a stress fracture in the joint. I've seen 2 physicians for my feet since then, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet and a sports medicine physician. Both told me how bad those custom orthotics were because they were stiff, which isn't what I needed. Becky, my coach (who is a corrective exercise specialist) agrees with that as well. Right now I have Spenco orthotics in my running shoes, which seems to be helping a ton. While I still have stiffness and some pain in my arch, it is slowly improving. What frustrates me and what prompted this post is that yes, if I take time off from running it goes away. But as soon as I increase my mileage it comes back again. Clearly I need to work on that left kinetic chain. Which I plan on doing once my son heals.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response! I love our community!

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  43. Hi Wendy--I just started reading your blog and this post really hit home for me! I am 44 now and started running when I was in high school. Throughout the years I had injuries, took time off and got back to it. In my late 20's I had a pretty bad bike crash that caused more damage on my back and hips than I realized and it wasn't until I got back to running that I had to deal with that. That is when I really picked up cross training and splitting my time between running, swimming and cycling. That did help a lot but I did have to deal with going from running only and "high" (for me) mileage down to only running 3-4 x per week for 3-5 miles at a time. It was hard and I fought it but finally accepted it. About 4 years ago, I made another big change after reading Jeff Galloway's book. I set my ego aside and embraced the run/walk/run method. I did this because of how much he stresses that the walking breaks help the body recover during the run. Truth be told, I would rather just run but I know my body likes the Galloway method so that is what I do. I think about when I cannot run all the time. I just feel like that day will come and I plan to fill my time with long/brisk walks, cycling, swimming and my weight training (which I have come to really love in the past few years). I might even get serious with yoga again (I have set that aside because I don't have any more TIME in my week to workout--LOL) I certainly don't want that day to come but the chances are high as running is such a wear and tear sport. I think that thinking about it helps me plan for when it happens so (hopefully) when it does I will be able to handle it gracefully. I don't want to desire to run so badly that I make myself unhealthy and have pain. But that's just me. Take care! Susan

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    1. Is isn't something, this need to slow down and switch it up? I think it really hit me this summer. It may have all come to a head since I believe I'm in the throes of menopause. Crap. I really hoped it wasn't going to happen to me! Stay tuned...let's see where this all ends up!

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  44. you are speaking to me here! I welcomed 40 with open arms and actually was in a good place running wise. The last couple years though have been a struggle. Hormones, weight gain and just life in general has altered my running. I've been discouraged by it but finally decided to run less and give up speed. I love strength training and spinning and still workout 6x a week so that encourages me. If it means not running/racing as much - i'll take it! this too shall pass my friend.

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    1. I know I need to let go of my ego. I'm not doing well with the idea of getting older. Sigh...

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  45. Firstly, love the new look of your blog. I am hoping to offer mine a facelift before the end of the year. I have started working on it....
    Life without running ? Well, in short, that is why I have purposely slowed down, and do my long runs run / walk. I want to continue to run for a long time but speed work and too pouch pushing hurt my knees and shins. So I accepted that if I wanted to run forever, I needed to find a strategy that would let me do that.
    I can not speak to PF but I had injured my achilles and it took about 4 months of pretty much no running (even aqua gym where we would jump hurt my foot). The rest made it all go away.
    Sorry you are battling this... I can tell how frustrated you are in your posts :(

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    1. It's hard for me to slow down--I do love some speed. But I'm learning that if I want to keep running, I need to take it easy. We'll see how I feel once it cools off and I can test my feet again with some faster running.

      I've had some downtime these past couple of weeks and have been working on a blog makeover. Glad you like it!

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  46. You my friend do not strike me as the type to quit altogether, nope don't see it! Maybe just a strategy change? Maybe fewer races? I know you will come up with something but quitting is not it!!!! :)

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    1. No, I won't quit. I'm going to work on taking it easy and letting this PF come to an end. We've got a race to run in December!

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