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Dear Running…

December 12, 2012

Dear Running,

I hate to do this in a letter, but when I’m around you, I can’t trust myself. It’s not that I don’t love you – I do, I just need a break. No one ever said this would be forever.

I remember when we started – two crazy kids trying to complete our first 5K. We went to that Borders near Penn Station – remember Borders?! – and bought Runners World with a special 10-week run/walk program insert. I can still see those rock hard abs on the cover offering so much promise.

But it was supposed to be a summer fling – that’s all. Now you’ve got me reading Running Times cover-to-cover every month. What do I care about some high school junior who can run 14:45? I don’t even know what event they’re talking about! I bought a Strassburg Sock and I don’t have Achilles Tendonitis.

Sure, the honeymoon was amazing – I gaze at our finish line pictures on and can’t help smiling. We were young and it all came so easy. We notched PR after PR, but 5Ks turned into 10s, and half-marathons into marathons. What’s next, Tris? Tough Mudders? Ultras?

You made me feel I was never good enough. Even when I PR’d Ashenfelter, all you said was I should have kicked harder at the end. Really? No, nice job? No, you’ve really earned your turkey this year, or even, hey, handsome mug? Instead, the first words out of your mouth were, “You let a 14-year-old beat you? Lucky he’s moving this summer.” Really?

You’re like a Tiger Mom – always demanding more, but I’ve got a mom already and I don’t want to date her. Hate to break it to ya, babe, but we’re never making the Olympic Trials in Houston. If you can’t accept me for my 70-75% Age-Graded PLP, that’s your problemo, not mine.

And would it kill you to pick up the tab for a race now and then? I’m not talking about Boston – just like the Sunset Classic. You could at least offer to go Dutch on USATF fees. You’re bleeding me dry.

Honestly, I don’t regret a minute we’ve spent together, but if you said when we met we’d be going out 5 times a week for the next five years I’d have said you were nuts. I practically live on the road. Why do I even keep my apartment? I’ve got running clothes at work, at the gym – I’m like some gypsy doing the Jog of Shame every morning, my backpack reeking of sweat and Body Glide. I can’t live like this.

I realize it takes two to be co-dependent, but you’re totally smothering me. I never see my own friends anymore – it’s only your “running friends.” Not that I have anything to offer normal people these days unless they ask me for a great hamstring stretch or how to cook quinoa. (Walnuts and cranberries!)

Plus you’re so jealous when I do other sports. I got out my bike shorts the other day and you looked at me like I’d killed your whole family. WTF?! You used to love it when I cross-trained – said it made me friskier the next day. When was the last time you even looked at my glutes?

And when was the last time we went to a party together? I realize we have to train in the morning, but I think you’re ashamed of me. You’re embarrassed about my last half marathon, but I told you I was treating it like a long training run. 1:35 is not who I am. It doesn’t define me.

Frankly, you’re becoming obsessed. Last week you yelled at me for not folding my running shirts neatly enough. I felt like some emotionally battered spouse on a Lifetime movie of the week. Plus, you gotta admit, tech shirts are hard to fold. They have that slippery fabric so even when you do it right it’s a mess two seconds later.

I can’t believe I’m justifying myself to you. You’re the one with the unreasonable expectations. I’d have been happy just jogging a few times a week to the park or around the movie theater, but you’ve got me locked in to hills on Tuesday, speed work Wednesday, tempo Thursday, recovery run Friday and race on Sunday. How long till Monday and Saturday are co-opted, too, huh? When will it ever be enough?

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, you helped me get in shape. I have more energy and feel better about myself overall. You saved my life in a way – I don’t deny it, but you read that Wall Street Journal article. You’re scarring my heart! You’re not just breaking it, you’re literally scarring it! The price of loving you is too high.

Okay, look, it’s not you, alright? It’s me. I’m not strong enough. You deserve better. For all our time together, I should be faster at every distance. I’ve let you down.

Ugh, I hate it when we fight. Why do we torment each other so? Truth is, even when I hate you, I still love you. You’re the cause of – and answer to – most of my stress. What’s crazy is, as upset as I am right now, I’m thinking about lacing up my Brooks Racer STs and doing 10 x 800 at 6:25 pace with two-mile warm-up and cool down.

I’m sorry. I could never stay mad at you. Can you ever forgive me? Promise you won’t leave? Promise we’ll love each other always.


Your Adoring Sneaky Toes


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