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Have I Run My Last Marathon?

As we deal with this current injury, I am confronted with the question of if I will ever run a marathon again.

The marathon. 

The great love of my running life. 

Lucky to be a Runner @suzlyfe

I love the marathon because it has changed me so profoundly. From healing my relationship with my body and improving my relationship with food, to giving me the strength to get through infertility treatments, to teaching me lessons that I take with me into becoming a parent. It has brought me friends, embued me with a pride in myself that I could never have anticipated, and given me peace when my life felt like it was spiraling out of control.

Marathon training and marathon running has given me such great happiness. 

And yet now I may need to say goodbye to it.  At least for my own running–I will still coach others and cheer on my friends. 

Remember that post I wrote, Running is a Bad Boy? I have to face facts; running and long distance running are my bad boy. I may love it/them dearly, but for now, and for the sake of my and my family’s future, I need to give them up.

I have a predisposition for stress injuries stemming from steroid use to treat my Crohn’s Disease as a young teenager. The weakness in my bones is made worse by a family history of osteoporosis and hormonal deficiency. As I told you at the beginning of my infertility treatment, I have never had normal hormones or a normal hormonal cycle. That plus my lower BMI thanks to periods of illness and a family history and past steroid use…. even with normal bone density markers, I am still at risk. 

This particular injury combines that predisposition with a job that kept me on my feet all day and the very commonplace risk of osteopenia during pregnancy, and there you go. Perfect storm. No one thing to blame; everything to blame. 

As we look forward and try to figure out how to proceed, Alex and I both agree that next time (if there is a next time) I get pregnant, we will have to change the way that we do things. No back to back running days and possibly no running at all.

Voldemort Boo You Whorecrux meme

I have to consider that my long distance running days are over. My love for the marathon and my desire to run Boston one day cannot and does not outweigh my love of my family and a happy and healthy home life. As I learned during my first major stress injury: I can live without running, but I cannot live without activity, and these types of injury take both away from me.

Some may say, “well, you can just come back to it later!” I guess that is true. However, my propensity for stress injuries will only become greater as I age, and the risk for injury to my home life and happiness that would be brought on by a significant injury also will increase. 

Ask others the same question I'm asking myself.Click To Tweet

But I am so much more than a runner. I am more than a marathoner. I want running and fitness to continue to be a major part of my life, I just need to figure out the way that makes the most sense for my body and my family. 

Today is National Running Day, but running is about so much more than putting one foot in front of the other. I run to believe. Why do you run? @Suzlyfe

Marathons taught me to believe. Running any distance reinforces that.

So adieu, marathons. Adieu, long distance running. We may meet again in the future, we may not. And if we don’t, know that you have made my life better, but that we just aren’t right for each other at this time in my life. 

But let’s stay friends–you are great at a party.

I am linking up with myself, RachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

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  • Reply Allie

    Ugh. The struggle is so real!!!! But, this is everything – – “my desire to run Boston one day cannot and does not outweigh my love of my family and a happy and healthy home life” Boom. Done.

    November 8, 2017 at 5:20 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Exactly. Can’t really argue with that, can you?

      November 9, 2017 at 11:18 am
  • Reply Alicia

    I know this must be such a hard decision Susie. I hope once your injury heals, you can find other activities to keep active.

    November 8, 2017 at 5:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’ll be happy. I have too much good in my life!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:17 am
  • Reply Lacey Balliet

    You have to do what is best for you and your family. Even though you are saying good bye to marathons, you are still a runner regardless what distance you run.

    November 8, 2017 at 6:07 am
  • Reply Michelle

    I’ve missed blogging and am glad I decided to make time to read this so I can offer big hugs. It’s hard having to let go of things we love.

    November 8, 2017 at 6:43 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It is, but it isn’t so hard when you are “running” (or crutching) towards another of the great loves of your life!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:16 am
  • Reply Cora

    One of the hardest things in life is letting go.

    Yes, we can’t see into the future and things we let go may very well return to us. But we can’t say that for sure, and that is the acceptance we have to sink into. Get soft with. Continue to give yourself grace. One day at a time, my love. You, as you are, are utterly and completely more than a runner. That being said, running will still always be with you. Just in a different form, in this new phase of your journey that you are MEANT to be on. Love you.

    November 8, 2017 at 8:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And if Alex has to push me in the stroller while holding the kiddo…. ;D

      November 9, 2017 at 11:17 am
  • Reply Wendy

    I’ve been asking myself the same question lately. Just like infertility made the decision about how many kids I can have–it wasn’t my choice to have 2, I wanted more– RA seems to be dictating whether or not I get to run another marathon. Wouldn’t it be nice if WE could choose when to call it quits?

    November 8, 2017 at 8:19 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Autoimmune diseases and chronic conditions suck because you can only plan so much, but you can always be scared that they are going to crop up. We walk a tenuous balance beam, you and I.

      November 9, 2017 at 11:15 am
  • Reply Sandra D Laflamme

    You will do what is best for your own health and for the health and happiness of your family and if that means no more marathons then that is ok. You will find your new groove and rock on doing whatever you do and whatever makes you the happiest. xo

    November 8, 2017 at 8:21 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And if I need to become a professional glucose test taker.. I can do that 😀

      November 9, 2017 at 11:09 am
  • Reply Emily Swanson

    Susie, I treasure your honesty and humility in this post. God has really humbled me in this area, because I have wanted to do a marathon again, but right now it just seems like my body won’t let me. I do want running to be a part of my life for a long time, and I know it’s not worth it to push my body past a limit that I can’t handle. I really appreciate you sharing this; I know it was not easy, but I know you are sooo much more than a marathoner. You are a precious human soul created by God, created for so much more than just being a runner! Running is still a HUGE part of you, and I know you will continue to teach and share so much with others about it.

    November 8, 2017 at 8:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      As we’ve all been saying, there are seasons of life, and like the seasons, these periods of life have the potential to come back around if you give them long enough, but they are unlikely to ever be the same, even if they take similar shapes. But when you get hypothermia and SAD every winter, it might be best to take a hint and move somewhere a little warmer and brighter. If that makes sense!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:08 am
  • Reply Suzlyfe’s mommy, Clare

    I have to say it-
    I have never been more proud of you.

    I’m always proud of you, but seeing you “put it down on paper” like this—
    You aren’t admitting defeat or quitting, you are admitting acceptance — and that is perhaps the greatest lesson that running has taught you.

    To accept those things you can not change and to be open to accept new challenges you may not yet know.

    I am not a runner, I’m no longer even a walker, but I know what I can do, I’ve done it, I’ve accepted it and I’ve found new challenges that I’m not afraid to try.
    I see that in you, and I watched you grow in ways you’d never imagined before you found out the test was “positive”

    ……and although running was not my sport of choice, I learned to run very fast when a certain young lady decided to dart across the parking lot!

    I love you,

    November 8, 2017 at 8:36 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hahaha and that is the thing: I need to be able to run after the next round of certain young ladies when they take off like crazy!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:02 am
  • Reply Rae

    Oh man, what a difficult decision to have to make. Sending all the love your way <3

    November 8, 2017 at 8:39 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m good, thanks love. But the love is always very uch appreciated!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:01 am
  • Reply Sam from Grapefruit & Granola

    Suz- wow, my heart breaks for you reading this post. Accepting things that we know we cannot change is so, so hard, and I think this post speaks volumes about your character. I know this will be inspiring to so many other women who are struggling with something similar. For what it’s worth, I think the seasons of life brings new and different passions and focus. You are a wonderful person and I know something amazing is waiting for you to take the place of marathons!

    November 8, 2017 at 8:59 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m curious to see what it will be. I think it will be being a parent. Marathon training can be super selfish, and I think that I needed that. But now is not the time for me to act that way.

      November 9, 2017 at 11:00 am
  • Reply Julie Running in a Skirt

    I so feel for you Susie! I know how hard this was for you to write.
    As someone who’s had to back away from distance running too I promise that running can still be fun and bring joy at shorter distances! Even running every other day still feels good and allows so much room in your life to find new loves.
    It’s hard to evolve and change but sometimes it’s the best thing for us.

    November 8, 2017 at 9:05 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I had a great time this summer running my 5 milers–I would love to do that regularly!

      November 9, 2017 at 11:00 am
  • Reply Deborah Brooks

    As someone who has also had stress fractures and running injuries for different reasons, I feel you. As you say, you can live without long distance running but cannot live (happily) without movement. You have a lot going on right now and maybe you don’t have to decide now but see how things go.

    November 8, 2017 at 9:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m ok with making the semi-permanent decision now. It gives me the closure I need to focus on my family for the next few years.

      November 9, 2017 at 10:59 am
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    You had to watch me walk away from one of my great loves–our Howell Mill house.
    It was HOME.
    It was home, and I can now completely say it “was” home. When those who made it our “home” no longer lived there, it was a wonderful, old, beautiful house.

    Its taken me a long time to let it go, because, when we moved, I had no idea where or what HOME would be.
    I’ve found that place now, it moves with me because I can make any place HOME. Its where those you love live.

    You are making the change from running a marathon to running your home. The marathon races will always be out there, or the 5Ks or Halfs, or what have you, if you decide to run again.

    Being a walker for the TeamChallenge Half-Marathon, in July 2009, was the first race I had ever done. I didn’t run it, I walked it–for you. It was my marathon, it just took me a lot longer to reach the finish line than it took the elite runners. It was still the same distance and I had a chance to enjoy the scenery!!

    One day, perhaps you and your daughter will talk about that race your mom did “so long ago” and why she did it. You understand it now, better than you could have then. The mom in you will know!

    Lets walk a 5K next summer, together, with the baby jogger and Alex!

    November 8, 2017 at 9:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would love that. And I can’t wait to tell Yoshi about what a great runner I was, just like I will tell her how awesome Alex was in high school sports and how strong he was, and how great our horses were. I have to give her legends to live up to, right?
      And yes, let’s do that.

      November 9, 2017 at 10:58 am
      • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

        Legends to live up to…….and a pony!

        November 12, 2017 at 6:02 pm
  • Reply Danielle The T-Rex Runner

    Obviously, I completely understand this! I don’t know if I will ever run another marathon again, either. I have found, as you probably will too, that some days it is easier to accept that fact than others. Unfortunately, we only get one body, and there’s no one else to take care of it but us. That doesn’t make it fun, though!

    November 8, 2017 at 9:47 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Amen to that. I, and I think you as well, don’t find it difficult ultimately to choose between chronic pain and something that gives us pleasure.
      I’ve got chocolate for that 😀

      November 9, 2017 at 10:57 am
  • Reply Kim G

    Oh I’m so sorry 🙁 I can only imagine how frustrating this can be.
    I think you said it best when you said you can live without running but not without activity. If your long distance running days are over, I have faith that you can find other activities to fall in love with.

    November 8, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’ll just run shorter distance! I don’t know if a kid can take more than that, anyway, lol

      November 9, 2017 at 10:56 am
  • Reply Pete B

    I’ve been having similar thoughts regarding running another marathon. I was lucky enough to run 10 of them and they were all thrilling, but the intensive non-stop training started to drag me down. I knew it was time for an extended break and luckily, a year later, I am starting to feel normal again. Just like everything in life, we have to know “when to say when” and maybe I’m at that point now. I had a fantastic time racing shorter distances before I ran my first marathon and I will have a fantastic time once again focusing solely on shorter distances. Maybe someday I’ll try another one, but maybe not. Either way is okay with me.

    November 8, 2017 at 10:53 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Same here. I just want to get back to a point where I can run regularly with confidence. Much like where I was with my last major injury. I found that balance, but somehow I lost it in the shuffle of pregnancy etc. I just want to feel happy and confident out there again. And recalibrate my mileage settings, lol

      November 9, 2017 at 10:55 am
  • Reply San

    I know this might sound like I am brushing this off as if it is nothing (and I swear, I am not, beccause I know personally how hard it is to let something go that you really wanted), but as long as you can get out there and run, that is the greatest gift!

    Your health and well-being of your family comes first and if that means giving up long distances, then that is what you have to do.
    I sometimes run by this (young) woman on a stretcher (on wheels) at the park and every time I feel so thankful that I can get out there, that I can run. It reminds me to be thankful for that, even if I don’t run as fast or far as I’d like to.

    All the love to you. I know this is not easy, and never say never, but do what’s best for you and your body.

    November 8, 2017 at 11:03 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      No San! I totally agree with you. I’m not sitting over here crying my eyes about it, but it is something that I’m coming to terms with. I would love to go out and run Boston someday, but you know what? Having a family and a healthy body that allows me to enjoy my days is SO much more important. I just need to give myself a little bit of an ultimatum or I will keep pushing the issue!

      November 9, 2017 at 10:54 am
  • Reply Katie

    My boyfriend ran 1 marathon and when training for his second got injured. He’s now at a point where a full marathon could injure him to the point of no longer being able to do anything or EVER run, so he’s reduced his distance (though admittedly, I still consider his 8 miles run significant), but has found his love for strength training and hot yoga so he doesn’t quite feel that void. If marathons are out of the question, maybe you’ll find a new favorite distance or activity that fills that space for this point and forward of your life.

    November 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Being broken in the rest of your life just isn’t worth it! At some point, I will fall back in love with these other old pursuits of mine. Or maybe I’ll become a power walker 😀

      November 9, 2017 at 10:52 am
  • Reply Jamie King

    You have to do what’s best for yourself, your body and your family. And there is life beyond running. You are strong and amazing, just keep that in mind and keep pushing on! XO

    November 8, 2017 at 3:10 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Push on I shall! I’m not letting the fact that I can’t run 26.2 hold me back!

      November 9, 2017 at 10:51 am
  • Reply Erica A.

    I cherish our amazing Marathon day in Phoenix when we crushed our BQs. No one can take the experiences and bonds you’ve made. Those are yours forever. And running will be there when and if you want it again.

    November 8, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree. It may not be there in the 26.2 mile version, but I will never lose those 26.2s I did run (and the awesome people I shared them with!)

      November 9, 2017 at 10:50 am
  • Reply Hannah

    It sucks when things you love can no longer peacefully coexist. But of course when family happiness is one of the things, the other thing has to go. I am sure you will find exercise that lives in harmony with your growing family <3

    November 8, 2017 at 8:18 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’ll figure it out. But that is the thing with aging–you really aren’t invinsible! You also learn periodically that some dreams are just that. Like winning an Oscar ;D

      November 9, 2017 at 10:49 am
  • Reply Lisa - Mile by Mile

    I sometimes question if more marathons are in the cards for me as well. I feel like I haven’t even reached my full potential with running, yet Im just tired of getting injured. Im sorry that you are facing this. I hope that you can find a way to safely include running in your life without risking any more serious injuries.

    November 9, 2017 at 3:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And what a road you have been on, my dear Lisa. You have done everything right, as have I ostenstibly. But is being in pain and questioning every step worth a momentary high? No. We just need to find the safer high.

      November 9, 2017 at 10:47 am
  • Reply The Chi-Athelte

    The truth is that we all want for you to continue to run; it’s difficult for anyone to not say “just wait and see”. I *still* want to say it, even though I’ve heard and read the list of *very good* reasons why you’re looking and crutching (I’ll edit when you can walk without those things) down this path.

    You have a process that is very particular to you, my Uuuuzie: You are a straight-up realist as well as a dreamer. You know when the realist has to check the dreamer, and vice versa. The reality as of this moment is that you are growing a beautiful little girl and trying to heal your own structure at the same time, and that far outweighs dream of rocking the hell out of another 26.2. For now. For a while. For forever? Who knows. Regardless, that’s a tough pill to swallow, and we’re all here for you.

    I know like I know that you don’t need this validation from me. It definitely beats me saying “just wait and see”, which I still want to do but am refraining like a mofo.

    I love you. Let’s get something non-noodles soon.

    November 9, 2017 at 5:46 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I never thought of myself as a realist but also a dreamer. But you are so so right. That is exactly what I am. That is why I like hearing both the positive and I always want to defy the negative, but I also usually agree with the negative.
      What a mess is man.
      LOVE YOU and the noodles weren’t so bad 😀

      November 9, 2017 at 10:46 am
  • Reply Katie

    Such a tough decision but it definitely sounds like the right one for you. Family and overall health and well-being are so important, no matter how much we love distance running. Sending hugs your way ❤️

    November 9, 2017 at 6:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I mean, seriously, is running really worth it? Is ANYTHING elective worth it?

      November 9, 2017 at 10:44 am
  • Reply Laura

    Family and health always come first. At least, like San said, you can still run – which is a huge gift and a passion you can pass down to your children. Even if you don’t run any more marathons, no one can ever take the ones you did run away from you.

    November 9, 2017 at 7:53 am
  • Reply Annmarie

    As many have said, health always comes first and it is a lesson that I learned quite quickly this past spring. While I am still dealing with some issues, I am trying to come to terms with how to stay active and fuel my body properly without triggering episodes. My struggle is no where near as difficult or as long as yours but I can certainly relate on some level. You are already a (very accomplished) marathoner and runner at heart which can’t be taken away from you <3

    November 9, 2017 at 12:59 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I agree–and don’t ever belittle your journey, you have been through plenty!

      November 9, 2017 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply Kat

    This is such a tough thing to come to terms with and I’m really proud of the way you are handling it!! For me, giving up soccer has created a sort of identity crisis. I just really don’t know who I am without it, which is probably why I’ve been going so crazy in the gym lately trying to find a substitution that gives me that same rush. The truth is though, nothing ever will. There will however, be something else that comes along and gives me that same kind of joy – we’ve just gotta be open to all of the possibilities!

    November 9, 2017 at 4:57 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I so understand you. SO understand you. But I think it also shows just how much you have grown–you are opening up to possibilities that you would have been TERRIFIED of before!

      November 9, 2017 at 5:23 pm
  • Reply Megan

    I hear ya on this. It was something I had to go through when I went through my hip replacement at 38. It felt like a death, but then with new life. On the one hand I was losing running, but on the other hand I was gaining my life. For so long I couldn’t do anything without being in pain. Now I can do so more than I could have ever imagined. You don’t know what life has in store for you. Don’t give up, but also don’t be scared to look ahead.

    November 9, 2017 at 6:50 pm
  • Reply Erin

    I can very much relate; I’m scheduled for labral tear surgery in my hip on Monday. It’s hard not being able to run and accept that running may not be what it once was but it is an opportunity to explore other types of movement. Best wishes in your healing!

    November 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    Change can be so hard to deal with – but at least you know your next chapter will be filled with so much joy and discovery! Who knows, you may be running a marathon in the future with little Yoshi cheering from the sidelines!

    November 13, 2017 at 6:53 pm
  • Reply Debbie

    Ugh, I’m so sorry you have to make this decision, especially when you’re so young. I have faith though that you will make the right one for you and your family. Sending lots of love! ❤️

    November 14, 2017 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Clarinda

    What a beautiful tribute to long distance running and the happiness you received from it. “We may meet again in the future, we may not. And if we don’t, know that you have made my life better…” Just beautiful. It is so hard to say goodbye, but it sounds like you are somewhat at peace with it. Best of luck healing from your current injury and finding the next thing. 🙂

    November 14, 2017 at 5:36 pm
  • Reply Janelle

    I’m sure this had to be really hard to post. You are always so open and brave to share what you’er going through. I hope you can continue to heal and keep your head up as you grow your family.

    November 15, 2017 at 9:16 am
  • Reply Montana R Ross

    As we enter different phases in our lives, different things take precedence. At this point, for me, nothing outweighs my goals of pushing myself in my sport, but it’s good that you recognize that your goals are different now. And it seems like you’ve made peace with that decision. I think you’ll make a great mom!

    November 15, 2017 at 8:31 pm
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