I have always wanted to be a mom and am completely okay with that being a big part of my identity at the moment. At the same time though, I think it’s important to maintain some sort of identity outside of motherhood. While I may not have as much time (or energy…) to devote to my hobbies as I once did, it’s important to me to not completely give them up.
A few years ago, one of my favorite hobbies, and a big part of my identity, was running. I started running in high school to stay in shape when it wasn’t basketball season (I played on our high school basketball team…we were very, very bad, but I loved it).
I didn’t love running right away, it felt so hard, but sometime in the college years, I fell in love with it. It didn’t hurt that I went to Georgetown in DC, which is surrounded by great running trails. Also though, as an introvert, I craved solitude, which can be hard to find in college.
Running gave me that outlet and felt so freeing. I ran somewhat sporadically in college. I started training for a half marathon a couple of times, but kept injuring my foot, probably because I was playing lots of basketball with friends around the same time, and was not at all careful about preventing overuse injuries.
After college, I signed up for my first race, the Virginia Beach Half Marathon, and from there I was hooked. I am a super competitive person and, while I am not fast, loved competing with myself and reaching new goals. Especially as a newer runner, there are always new time and distance goals to strive for.
I ran four marathons and a bunch of other races, and loved them all. I briefly joined an early morning running group in DC, but quickly realized I really prefer running alone. I would 1000 times rather listen to music while running than have to think about talking.
I had a few injuries over the years, but they were all gone within a couple of months. One day, I was running in Wisconsin while we were visiting my husband’s family and my left foot started to hurt. I kept going. I may have taken a day or two off, but then went back to it. It wasn’t excruciating, just a nagging pain. It got worse and worse and I kept on running. I still wonder how things would have turned out if I had just stopped and gone to a doctor, or at least taken more time off.
Months later, I eventually went to a specialist and it turned out I have an extra bone in my foot, called an accessory navicular. It’s a tiny little bone, but can cause tendonitis, which is partially what was causing me pain. The bone itself hurt too. The doctor recommended some different shoes and insoles and told me I should I go to physical therapy (which I did not do…). There is a surgery to remove the bone, but it is largely unsuccessful.
I stopped running for months. I would try again periodically, but even going for walks was really painful, which was one of the hardest parts. I was teaching at the time, and was on my feet a lot, which probably didn’t help.
Anyway, this a long way of saying, I did not stop running because of James. I actually started running again for the first time in a long time in my second trimester. Probably because I had been resting more than usual, my foot finally started to feel a little better. I was going slowly and only about once a week, but it felt SO good.
Similarly, I started running about once a week six weeks or so after having James. I would either go on my treadmill in the garage or outside on the weekend while my husband was home. Now that I can run with the stroller though, I can finally run outside more often again.
It feels so, so great to be out running semi-regularly again. It also has me itching to do a race. I want to sign up for either a ten miler or half marathon for sometime next Fall. I know this is probably not smart in terms of my foot – but I’ve also mostly given up on it ever getting 100% better again and am not okay with never doing a race again. I want to do at least one more and ten milers / half marathons are my favorite distance.
Now I just need to research and choose a race, which I love doing! Any recommendations? I’ll keep you posted…
Do you like to run?
Have you ever had a long-term injury?
If you’re a parent, how do you maintain your identity outside of parenthood?