Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Crisis of Identical Proportions

Dear Abby,

I’m writing to you today because I fear that I’ve recently fallen out of love – with running. Yes, we’ve had some good times in the past - a nice race up Pack Monadnock, leisurely runs in the woods, one or two fast 5k’s, and a few good marathons. But, a recent string of physical setbacks has left me feeling defeated and uninspired. What once was great is now painful & joyless. And, I find myself asking the same nagging question: Is this relationship worth saving?

What makes this realization all the more poignant is that it seems as though I’ve found a new love – biking. This new relationship is fresh and exciting. And, we’ve been seeing each other quite a bit recently. Riding my road bike makes me feel fast, wild & free – just like I used to feel while running. To be honest, I’ve had bouts of biking infidelity before (during previous breaks from running) but somehow this time feels different.

Now, I know that we’re still in the early stages of our affair and that biking can be a high maintenance relationship to be sure. What with all the equipment upgrades and new fangled gadgetry that I’ll no doubt be encouraged to purchase. But, it’s certainly a much less abusive relationship than running and it doesn’t beat me up like my old lover used to. Plus, I know that I can last a whole lot longer on the bike than I can on my feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I still care a great deal about running. We’ve had a long and storied history together. It got me into shape and brought me great joy over the years. Many of my best friends run and I still spend a good deal of my free time in and around the running crowd. But, after everything I’ve been through (and the new love I’ve found) the thought of going all the way now makes me feel nauseous.

So the question remains: What should I do? Is there any way I can re-ignite the passion I once had with running? Or, after 14 years, has our relationship just run its course (so to speak) and it’s now time for me to move on? Should I add swimming into the mix (a manage-a-tri?) or will that just lead me to hating all three disciplines? Any advice you could give me in this area would be most appreciated.


Mixed-Up Multi-Sporter


  1. It depends. Are you looking for a new relationship with competition and intense, focused training? Or are you looking for a relationship that simply keeps you healthy and active. Cycling can serve both purposes, but you will find that if you go the competitive route, you will long for the days of the simplicity of 5k - marathon training. Training for running in infinitely easier than training for bike racing, and it goes beyond just the expensive gear. (And don't let anyone tell you that you "need" any of that stuff...because you don't). I turned to cycling when I was injured from running because I needed to fill the competition void left when I had to stop running. When I made a return to running in 2005, I realized how simple and easy it was and how little time it took. To be even remotely competitive in cycling, you must commit about two - three times as much time per week to it as you did for running. But, you can do more and it's not hard on your body, and it is a nice feeling to know you trained for 2-3 hours and are not destined to spent the next 45 minutes sitting in an ice bath chasing ibuprofen with Diet Coke. As for the whole multisport/triathlon thing - don't go there. You are far better a runner than most triathletes can ever dream of, and you will quickly find the whole sport to be infiltrated with people who are into the "lifestyle" of triathlon and not so much the head to head competition. That's why it did not appeal to me. I want to know exactly where my opponents are on the course and I want to annihilate them. I can do that in running and cycling (with the exception of those who annihilate me). In triathlon, it's more of a mob-like experience, and you will not be able to gauge performance by things like PRs or anything, since there is no standardization or regulation of events.

  2. Kerry - Like anyone who finds themselves in the throes of a new relationship, I'm not really sure what I want. I just know that I'm enjoying biking a whole lot more than running. And, right now, it's not even close! Who knows what the future holds. Knowing me, if I keep on with the biking, I won't merely be satisfied with beating my own course PR's and will eventually be looking for someone else to beat. :)

  3. No one says you have to fully commit to just biking or just running. It sounds like your body is telling you take a break from running. You've made the investment in a bike and running is easy in terms of equipment to maintain. Enjoy the biking - the season is way too short (at least for me it is). Tri's are fun - though they usually start much earlier than any road race and are not as plentiful and cost a LOT more.
    - Beth (a fair weather rider for sure)

  4. If cycling doesn't beat you up as much as running, why do you wear a helmet?
    We all know the real reason why you love biking. You want to shave your legs.