The post in which I realize I don’t actually *have* to keep running

Yesterday I was stretching after a run with my dear co-worker and running partner, Pat. And after our half-marathon that we (or at least *I* feel like) miraculously pulled off, I asked him,

“So, you want to do another one with me this summer?”

And he said, no, not really, because he had a lot of other things he wanted to accomplish this summer and he couldn’t devote the time to train to do it.

As I listened to him give his very thoughtful reasons why not, I realized something I hadn’t thought in the four years I have been doing distance running: I don’t actually have to keep racing.

So today Felicity is nine months old. I have had an entire pregnancy’s worth of time to recover from pregnancy. Let me tell you that before I had her, I thought for sure that by now I would be 154 pounds again and training for a marathon in the summer. I thought that I’d have to take this brief rest period to complete this very taxing physical task (childbirth) and then I’d be right back to where I was before.


I haven’t gotten on a scale in months, but judging by how my clothes fit, I know I’m nowhere near where I was before I was pregnant. It was not lost on me that I ran that half-marathon two weeks ago at least 10 pounds heavier than I have ever run a half marathon.

Also, training for that half-marathon? I didn’t. I never ran more than 6 miles at a time. I would not recommend any reader of this blog do that. My right hip flexor bothered me for two weeks after that race. It wasn’t used to that kind of stress, even if my legs still knew how to keep running for 13 miles, and that’s the risk you take running untrained.

I still love running. I love the feeling I get once I’m done, when I have the time to do it. I knew I wouldn’t need to worry about getting back into running the moment I laced up my running shoes again six weeks after giving birth — this is my happy place.

Me at my best, circa summer 2013

Me at my best, circa summer 2013. At the time, it wasn’t good enough — it never is, is it?

But Pat saying that? Gave me permission to think that this doesn’t have to be the thing that defines and drives me right now. And honestly it can’t. The theme of my life for the last four months since I got back to work has been S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D. I feel stretched out in every way. There is no longer enough of me to pour my heart into everything so I ration myself out in little pieces and have little left over for myself. I saw this essay this morning about how much chronic sleep deprivation hurts you. Hah! I’ve been operating this way for months.

But it won’t be that way forever.

But it feels really nice to give myself permission to take one thing easy right now.

But I’ll keep running. A few times a week, a few miles at a time, just I’m going to do it because it restores me, until I can grow back into what I used to be able to do.


Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.