• Michelle Howell

Running: I've been on pause

Pause isn't a term that applies to who I am.

If anything fast forward is more like it.


Since 2013 I've been playing the tight rope artist balancing athletics, academics (yep, I'm still technically a student with one MBA class to go), real-world positions (from internships in college to my now somewhat big-girl jobs= coaching high school and working with Outdoor Voices) and personal ambitions like my now growing personal coaching business (*pats self on the back*).


Leading up to April 1st I hadn't run more then two days consistently since February 8th. My cardio had been coming in the form of endless laps in the pool and impatiently sitting on the spin bike where an hour worth of rotations became the norm.


Being away from running has got me thinking about identity and how much running whether I like it or not does play into my own. When I can't do what I love apart from being crankier (according to Max), I feel like the things I do are less meaningful, like I've lost my purpose. It's a feeling I think many other athletes can relate to, specifically when what they do is taken from them. This unfortunately isn't my first rodeo on the subject. I've got a knack for odd, drawn out injuries so this time around I made an effort to focus my energy on the things in my life that aren't on pause.


1. Worth👏 isn't👏 measured 👏in👏 Miles

I think this is the hardest thing to realize when running's not in my life because a lot of my confidence, my joy, my reason for being so to speak comes from getting out there and putting in work on the track, the road, etc. When I can't do that it's tough to get out of this funk, but the most important thing to realize is that my worth is based on more than just running, however much it is a part of my life.


2. A necessary break in disguise

As I've gotten older I've realized more and more the benefits of taking some time away from competing and training, which can be hard to do when you're on the type A side of the spectrum. A physical and mental hiatus from the sport though can be hard for me to muster up on my own so even though injuries suck there is the plus side that they do offer some time to stop, reassess, and regather/ remember all the reasons you love (or maybe you don't love) the sport. Self-Reflection is never a bad thing.


3. Re-direct your energy

When I'm training full time my day looks a little something like this:

7:00 am wake up, yoga, pre-workout light breakfast

8:00 am commute out of the city for practice, morning news podcast*

9:00 am practice

12:00 pm commute home on the metro, catch up on emails, down some protein concoction

1:00 pm brunch**

2:00 pm stretch, rehab, therapy session if I've got one scheduled, do some work from home

3:00 pm off to coach the kids/ clients

6:30 pm head home, read on the metro

7:30 pm dinner/ prep for tomorrow

8:30 pm pass out


*so I can pretend I know what's going on in the world

**this could easily be called linner- lunch/ dinner- but for all intents and purposes in my book I eat breakfast-esque food so it's brunch


With a schedule like this, when I no longer have running in it, I end up having more time on my hands than I know what to do with. I think the same holds true for most of us who devote a large portion of our day to day training. To fill this void I need to put my energy into other things that give my life purpose verses sitting around feeling bad for myself. In the past this has meant focusing more on school, friends, or making sure I was doing everything in my power to be the best at my rehab exercises. This time around I've put my energy into coaching, finally kicking my private business off the ground, something I wouldn't have done without this time on my hands.


Being on pause isn't fun, but it's not always a bad thing. There is always some good to be found in the bad. Needless to say I'm happy to be back running and training where I left off.


Fingers crossed I'll be keeping on track to debut my outdoor campaign in May


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