For the first time since I started running almost six years ago, I’m considering retirement.
Just typing these words makes me experience a tornado of emotions.
But first, let me explain why I’m thinking of quitting for good. I have some arthritis in my left knee. The pain has been tolerable, and the knee didn’t really start causing me problems until I got to the later part of my Chicago marathon training in September. I got an injection which was awesome, and I was able to run my marathon with no issues and I’ve remained pain-free until a couple of weeks ago. The pain is bad enough that I’m wondering if it’s more than arthritis. I wonder if I have some sort of injury. I see an orthopedic sports medicine doctor later today, so I will find out.
The Zen part of me says I should just wait and find out what the doctor says before I even start considering quitting running. After all, when I first started my running journey, I had stress fractures at three different times. After healing, I would go right back to running. There was no way I was giving it up and I was able to run over the last four years injury-free.
But this time is different. I have no running goals; I’ve run two marathons and I don’t currently have any other race goals. There are so many other fitness avenues to explore. Last summer I really got into biking and in the late fall, I started doing strength-training workouts at the gym. If doing these things can keep my knee happy, then I think I’d be willing to give up running with no regrets.
I’d be lying, though, if I said I was 100% okay with quitting running. Running has been such a huge part of my life for the last 5-1/2 years. I found out a lot about myself during that time. I found out how physically and mentally tough I am. I learned that I can set a goal, work my ass off, and achieve it without quitting when things got hard. I gained self-confidence. And I met some really awesome people in the running community. Part of me is worried that I’ll lose these friends if I quit running. I hope not. I hope I’ve made friends for life. But sadly, we wouldn’t have running in common anymore.
Running has been so great, but perhaps it is time to move on without it. This makes me really sad, but I’m also excited to take on new fitness goals with other forms of exercise.
I could be jumping the gun and the doctor will tell me today that it’s okay to keep running. I’ll talk to him about the pros and cons and then decide what to do. Whatever happens, though, I hope that those who follow me because of my running will continue to follow me for other things. I hope that the runner friends I have made will continue to be my friends because after all, we do know that there is more to life than running, right?
Right. I’ll just keep telling myself that.
Have any of you thought about giving up running because of injuries or to take up other forms of exercise? Would love to hear about it in the comments below!