Runfessions: Time to hang up the sneakers

In August I was full of both resolve and expectation. True, it hurt when I walked, but hardly at all when I ran. I committed to a few 5K and 10K races, and had 10 wonderful weeks this past summer spending time jogging along my hometown trails. Sure, in the back of my mind I wondered if it was really OK to keep running when walking was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, but what the heck. Whatever was wrong didn’t seem to bother me much when I was running.  However, the day after my first race in September (really a fun run rather than a race), the annual Terry Fox Run, my head won out over my heart – or maybe it was the ensuing pain that won out. At any rate, I knew it was time to go for full-time rest for a while. Now, after nearly two months of full-time rest I realize that this is more than just the usual running injury. It’s more of a “now I see why so many old(er) people walk with a limp” situation. It’s time to stop dwelling on when I can start running again. Instead it’s time to think about how fortunate I’ve been to have been able to have the past ten years of running. What a ride it’s been!

I started running longer distances just over ten years ago, as my heavy work schedule was coming to an end. I was blessed to have two of the most important people in my life join me on this journey, my husband and my brother, as well as our personal photographer and traveling companion, my sister-in-law.

Our initial goal was to try a half-marathon, so we went whole hog and registered for the Disney World Half Marathon in January 2010. I was just turning 64 and my husband had just turned 70. Yikes, we didn’t even think about that. We trained and we trained. We read book after book and article after article about training programs, rest days, cross-training, to stretch or not to stretch, staying hydrated, and on and on. It’s a culture unto itself. We were hooked.

In the past ten years we’ve done half-marathons in Disney World (on what had to have been the coldest January day Florida had ever experienced, complete with sleet and black ice), Ottawa several times, Moncton, Fredericton, and Saint John in our province of New Brunswick, and the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London. We completed the New York City Marathon (my personal favourite running experience) and the Chicago Marathon. And we’ve done numerous 5Ks and 10Ks, including one in Toronto that included 8 family members and one in Hamilton, Ontario that included 5 family members. As I said, it has been quite a ride.

Lots of family members at Toronto’s Sporting Life 10K, 2013

Younger son joins us for a half-marathon in Ottawa. I think he’s since decided that once was enough!

And so, as I hang up my sneakers on running, I am ever so thankful for having had these experiences. I am grateful that I will always be able to recreate in my mind the feeling of peace and well-being found in running along our beautiful trails, not thinking about anything in particular, simply moving. I have learned at a late age that your body really can do amazing things when you put in the effort, and when you train smart. I’ve learned so much in that regard. Don’t overdo, but don’t pretend you’re keeping up with your training schedule when you’re not. Don’t train injured. Rest and ice (and lots of ibuprofen) really do work for injury recovery in nearly every case. Until they don’t. That’s when you need to stop.

Peace and tranquility on a section of our local trail system

I’ve learned the joy that comes with achieving a tough physical goal, which is something that I hadn’t had a lot of previous experience with, to say the least. Crossing that finish line is an awesome, awesome feeling. Nobody could have described it to me; I had to feel it for myself. And, for anyone who’s thinking of giving this a try, remember that every single person who crosses the finish line is a winner. They got up, put on their sneakers, and gutted it out. Bravo.

I’ve gotten to travel to some very special places for many of our races, fitting in wonderful holidays around destination runs. And I’ve gotten to share all of these experiences with people near and dear to me. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially not as a retirement activity. But it has provided me with benefits I couldn’t have imagined when we started. I encourage everyone to find whatever it is that gives you similar pleasure, and then make sure you get out and do it while you can. You’ll be glad you did!

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33 Responses to Runfessions: Time to hang up the sneakers

  1. somekindof50 says:

    Wonderfully inspiring post Jane.

  2. iidorun says:

    Oh Jane! A true Runfession! I’m glad to know how much happiness and wonderful memories running has brought you! And also glad to know the that you are listening to and honoring the needs of your body! That is something I am learning to accept as well. I loved your recap of your running escapades and look forward to continuing to read about your next adventures! ❤️🏃🏻‍♀️❤️

  3. Jean says:

    Great memories. No definitely it’s not my cup of tea. Though never say never. When living in Toronto, Vancouver and now Calgary, I live very close to each city’s major long bike-pedestrian-jogging pathway that hooks into its major park system that goes…for long enough to design a true marathon practice/real run. We see them daily…the joggers.

  4. alesiablogs says:

    Great post and pics… It is good to see how you ID the issues that led to your decision and make the most of it. I luv how you share your heart. Thx Jane!

  5. A seasoned runner like you and a novice fast walker like me, I’ve just begun my journey. 😊
    You did well Jane and are now my inspirationn.🤗

  6. I just read all the comments here and wow they are great, lots of support. I have finally after 70 years learned to listen to my body parts and when it hurts I switch. So now I still get my exercise but less joint pressure with more gym time and swimming especially. Next year I think I will get back into biking but with electric assist so I can get back when I go too far!
    Good luck with your recuperation and the next steps.

  7. Paulie says:

    Great post. I can certainly relate. I’ve had a few instances in which I’ve called it quits due to pain and then managed to get going again. In my younger years I would get impatient, be miserable to be around and often re-injure myself. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to just deal with it and wait it out, hoping I would be able to hit the streets again. One layoff was for as long as two years. I guess I was in my forties and a primary care physician told me I needed to find a new form of exercise. At the end of two years I couldn’t stand it anymore and started running again – pain free. I just turned 66 (ugh) and I’m still running. The point of all this is to suggest that maybe your days aren’t done. Maybe you just need a longer layoff. In any case, you certainly seem to be taking this in stride (no pun intended). Saying goodbye to the running shoes can be like saying goodbye to an old friend.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks so much, Paulie. Yours is the kind of running story I like to hear. That has definitely been my philosophy: to rest, ice and bide my time, but for now I’ve got to concentrate on being able to get back to walking more than .5 km without pain. A more modest goal, but also more critical for quality of life. On the other hand, if I can return to pain-free mobility for walking, there’s no doubt that the possibility of at least the occasional jog will beckon! It’s food for the soul … when it’s possible. 😊🏃🏽‍♀️🚶🏼‍♀️

  8. Wow, you ran in some beautiful places. Good for you too, love how the whole family gets involved as well. Bet you had a lot of fun and wonderful memories to look back on. Have a great weekend.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Many thanks, Little Red House. In our corner of the universe this weekend we’re getting reacquainted with this white stuff called snow, which will undoubtedly be our friend for the next 4-5 months! 😊🍁🌬❄️

      • I can’t believe how early the snow came to some parts of the world this year. It looks beautiful but I know it gets cold. I love visiting snow but it nice being able to drive away too. I am such a desert girl. Stay warm over there and make lots of snowmen.

  9. swosei12blog says:

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Inkplume says:

    I’m sure there is some sadness as you close this chapter but so glad you are listening to your body and looking back with gratitude on the good times you had while running. Looking forward to hearing what comes next!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Linda. What a nice message. You’re right, there is sadness, but it’s definitely time to bend to the inevitable and just appreciate what we had. Now to investigate new, gentler options. Stay tuned!

  11. I can identify with all of that Jane. Some great memories and advice from the body.

  12. I am glad that you found it all worth while, now I expect to see you and Howard out on the Folks on Spokes next season

  13. LA says:

    Onward and upward to new and different adventures!

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