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Why I Gave Up Running

I’ve been meaning to write this post about why I gave up running for a while…

Exercise Addiction

Although it’s completely unrelated to healthy desserts or recipes, I wanted to publish in case it can help someone out there who might feel like I did a few months ago.

If you were to stumble upon my blog without knowing anything else about me, you might get a picture of this crazy-enthusiastic girl who is always happy, completely carefree, and whose life revolves around food and chocolate and dessert 24/7.

In reality, “blog Katie” is only a very small portion of who I am outside of the computer world.

You might be surprised by how much of my life is entirely unrelated to food and cooking, and I’m definitely not completely carefree.

Related: How I Started Blogging Full Time

Chocolate Covered Katie Cookie Recipe

Because I choose not to talk about my friends, relationships, or personal life on the blog, most people would’ve had no idea I was anything less than my usual upbeat self early this year…

Yet even as I continued with the cheery chocolate posts, I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted thanks to moving twice, going through a breakup, sorting out issues with the book, and worrying about the future.

In the past, I would have leaned on running to get me through.

It was in college that I first fell in love with the sport, waking up each day excited to get out in the fresh Pennsylvania air before classes. Running provided an outlet for the pent-up energy I was no longer expending on soccer and tennis (sports I’d played almost from birth all the way through high school), and I could think about everything while I ran: school, friends, guys, the past, the future… or sometimes nothing at all.

Running’s meaning in my life would change over the years; when I moved back to Texas it became a comforting source of stability in my crazy and uncertain post-high-school life. Four or five times a week, sun or rain or snow, I’d be out there running, 7 to 10 miles each time. I loved it.

But somehow this past summer, I lost energy and motivation for something that used to bring such joy and excitement. For the first time in eight years, I found myself dreading the idea of going out for a run.

I would drag myself through the miles and arrive home feeling completely drained. Running had never been something I wanted to force myself to do, so one day in early July when I was “supposed” to go out, I just didn’t.

Girl Eating Cake

That one day turned into a week.

The week turned into a month.

Then two months.

And I was surprised to find I didn’t miss it. I had much more energy throughout the day, felt happier and less stressed, and even my hair—no longer breaking off from much-too-tight ponytails—looked healthier.

As people have pointed out in a few of my recent posts, I’ve also gained weight, which I’d been trying to do for awhile (I always wanted curves). Not going to lie, I am pretty excited about this.

(To ease your worries if you want to give up running but do not wish to gain weight: I don’t think quitting running directly caused me to gain weight. My personality is such that I naturally tend to lose weight when I’m stressed and overwhelmed, so the change is a physical manifestation of feeling happier and more relaxed.)

Will I ever go back to running?

Maybe someday in the future, but much more recreationally.

If running works for you, that’s great. Keep doing it! But if you’re feeling burned out by running—or any exercise—it might be a good idea to take a step back for awhile. You can always pick it up again if the desire strikes.

That’s not to say I’m advocating giving up exercise completely: I still walk every morning to get out in the fresh air, and lately I’ve been going with a friend to the gym a few times a week (basically he lifts all the heavy weights and I stand there with my 10-lb dumbbells and exercise my mouth!).

When I first gave up running, I feared losing a part of my identity. But the truth is I now have so much more.

2014 Edit: Part Two: Why I Started Running Again

Recipe Of The Day:

flourless banana pancakes

Flourless Pancakes – 3 Ingredients, NO gluten, soy, eggs, or refined sugar

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Published on November 20, 2013

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
featured on The 
Today Show, CNN, 
Fox, The 
Huffington Post, and 
ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

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  1. Maggie says

    I was training for running, and I had targeted a 5k. I’d be done with the running program by the time the 5k came. I was good at running for the first few weeks, until I became de-hydrated and got side aches from running. On running days, I’d forget to drink water until I’m about to run, then I gulp down bottles of water and start to feel sick. I don’t know why that, though. Recently, I got really far on the weeks, and I was able to run 8 minutes in a somewhat cold weather and it was fine and perfect. Note: this was a night run. I was running, and out of the blue I tripped. My knee began bleeding and I had to walk to the car. I waited for my knee to heal before running again- but I didn’t actually go running again. I kept putting it off. Then it started getting cold and I didn’t know what to do. This has helped me SO much. I’m going to take a break from running. Thank you Chocolate Covered Katie!

    • Christine says

      When I read this two weeks ago, I was struggling with trying to exercise despite worsening leg pain. It was a routine I had followed since I was a cross country runner in middle school. The pain became unbearable and I went to the doctor’s office, where I was diagnosed with a stress fracture and received a walking boot. Most of my running friends would be devastated with such news, but I was relieved. It gave me a much needed wake-up call: why was I continuing to exercise at such excessive levels in the face of fatigue and pain when there was absolutely no reason to do so (I’m not in college competing for a team, and I am not a professional athlete)? I feel like a burden was lifted from my shoulders. I have more time during the day to study (medical school can be demanding) and relax (cooking tasty vegan foods or going to bed early). When I am allowed to walk without the boot, I won’t worry about resuming running any time soon. Like you said, it will always be there.

  2. Ilana says

    girl, I do the same thing with my almond butter…and seriously at least a third of a jar. I just discovered this insanely good date syrup they sell at a few places here in the city and my latest routine is almond butter (or tahini) mixed w/ date syrup and cacao powder.

    I’m glad to hear you’re doing well, my love.

  3. Cait the Arty Runnerchick says

    so i’ve adored ur blog for a few years but life’s been kinda crazy on my end so i’m just reading this post and wanted to leave a comment. as u can tell from my name/website/blog i do have a passion for running and think it’s awesome, when i first read u were a runner i thought, “cool beans.” but u know what? i STILL think you’re amazing and incredibly creative and talented at wat u do. and even though for ME running remains a passion i’m the FIRST person to say you should never force it on yourself or anyone else.
    if you passions change, you should be flexible enough to follow that change. just wat u explained, mentally with exercising and such people can start to feel like they ‘have’ to do things and feel ‘guilty’ for ‘cheating’ or skipping the run. but u force something on yourself long enough and it will only cause you mental torture.
    so i just wanted to commend you for listening to your passions and personal instincts and giving up something that turned into more of a burden to you than a passion.
    keep up the wonderful baking, blogging, cooking…i SUCK in the kitchen and seriously have so much awe over what you’re able to create. annnnd u always make me drool. 🙂

  4. longtimelurker says

    I’m really proud of you, Katie! It can be so hard to change things that play a big role in your life but you did just that! Not many people are able to change those energy sucking parts of their lives like you did! I hope you keep feeling great and I hope you stay healthy and strong through the hard times. I wish you the best girl! x

  5. Carrie Lonsdale says

    I just stumbled on your site. I am trying to go gluten free and experimenting with everything love your recipes just made the nutella with almond butter my 13 year old made. Does this need to be refrigerated or room temperature like the original. Thank you any good rolls or bread recipes?

  6. Ana says

    I understand exactly what you’re talking about! I found that I was much more energetic, happy and peaceful when I stopped stressing about exercise. The best piece of advice I got from my doctor was: do what makes you happy! If you want to dance, dance. If you want to go for a run, run. Eat to feel good, because healthy choices make you feel good, but also don’t skip the chocolate cake if you really want to have some! Doing what feels good is what’s best for you. I really love your blog and your recipes, thanks for taking the time to create healthy alternatives so I can eat to feel good 🙂

  7. Pamela says

    Just saw this. After many years of loving it, I just came face to face with “I don’t enjoy running anymore!”, too. First, I panicked. Then, I actually allowed myself to relax and let new motivation/inspiration come. That’s where I am now. This post feels great on my brain. Thank you.

  8. Pamela Haley says

    I’m sorry about all of the stress you’ve experienced. We all have to go through that from time to time to grow. I’m actually happy for you that you got to dump the chump. Honestly, I would read a blog about a recipe… the simple fact that he refused to try things or refused to share in your passion for foods just by giving them a taste, that you had to pander to him by making 2 meals… told me it needed to end sooner than later. Little things like that say a lot about the overall person and, I was reminded of someone I blew too much time on as well. Hoping it would get better and, some people are so settled in their ways (or psychotic) they are unable to grow. NOW YOU CAN! 🙂

    As for running, maybe a nice mile or 3 will be enough if you ever want to get back into it. 7-8 is impressive but, it’s too much for many people. I think my max was 4.5… it’s good but, maybe too much exertion and stress in the long term.

    You’re a strong woman and I know you will get through whatever ails you… even if it sucks for a little while. The best thing we can do is just keep doing… but take a nice break once in awhile!

  9. sherri says

    I’m glad you posted this. I have read some rather ‘unkind’ and I believe inaccurate things regarding ‘you’ on Calorie Count and on MyFitnessPlan. Some people on the forums forums DID peg you as a young, food obsessed individual with a massive ED – someone who ran and was far too skinny and is anorexic and/or bulimic!
    Anyways, keep the faith! I think you’re awesome and love your site.
    p.s. your peanut butter/coconut butter mix would be too dangerous for me…I’d most likely eat the entire jar…not just a 1/3!

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Thank you so much, Sherri. I think I’ve unfortunately seen a few of those posts (although I’m sure there are many others I haven’t seen… and don’t care to see!). Negative people will always exist, especially on the internet where it’s so easy to be anonymous and say disgusting things you’d never dream of saying to someone’s face. At the end of the day, I just had to learn to live my life and ignore it. By now, I’ve heard so many crazy conspiracy theories about myself that I just roll my eyes at mean comments and move on.

  10. Christina says

    Hi Katie,
    I was wondering with all the peanut butter you eat, have you considered organic peanut butter? Do you know anything about the differences. I’m always debating whether to buy organic. Not sure if it’s worth almost double the price. Just wondering.

  11. shannon says

    hey there. just playing catch up on your blogs bc i haven’t been reading them as regularly. sending out a hug to you! I know the blog game of really wanting to seem like this healthy writer who’s got it together and posts tons of positive stuff, and it’s easy for readers to think that’s all there is. i feel for you katie! tough times suck, but writing about them is good and you’re just giving your readers a more honest understanding of who you are. and that’s great 🙂

  12. Kirsten says

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I quit running a year ago–I had loved running, putting in 10 miles every weekend. It helped de-clutter my mind, and made me feel like I could accomplish at least SOMETHING when there were so many never-ending tasks. But running started becoming a chore, I went through a break-up, and a few other disappoints… so I just stopped. Thank you for articulating your own experience. It helped me understand mine!
    What you do here on your blog is important.

  13. luce says

    This is a really thoughtful and beautiful post. I certainly know what it’s like to get into a pattern where suddenly keeping something up (even a seemingly healthy habit) can become limiting, even imprisoning. It’s inspiring and moving to read about your decision to listen to intuition, be gentle with yourself, and let go of old fears. It’s scary to let oneself change, to release oneself from an idea of “identity” when that identity’s boundaries don’t fit anymore. Bravo girl — thanks for writing this!

  14. Halle says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been forcing myself to run ever since I started, and though I do enjoy it, I don’t like feeling as though I HAVE to run. It’s nice to hear someone saying it’s not the only convenient way to stay fit.

  15. Heidi says

    Was glad to read this post. I had to give up running completely about 18 months ago because of major problems with my knees and hips… am still working on finding a good, low-impact exercise that I like that helps me stay on top of things. It’s a work in progress. But it’s nice to know that others have gone through the process, too.

  16. Susan says

    Hey, I know this is an older post but I just found your blog 🙂 This is an awesome post and I have found other sports besides running, too! I love riding my bike, swimming and lifting weights. I still run/walk but not very much. I think moving your body every is key and as you get older (I am 42) it really is important to be gentle (which running too much is not, IMO). Also, I love how you embrace eating fats. I have a degree in Nutrition and it drives me crazy how people are fat (and carb) phobic! I go through a jar of nut butter about every 4 days. My hair, skin and nails love it and it won’t make you gain weight. I can’t wait to sign up for regular updates and to try some yummy recipes!

    P.S. I think you look wonderful with some extra weight. Your skin glows!

  17. Kara says

    Hi Katie, this post is completely relating to my life right now. I’m not sure where you are at mentally, but I know for me, running was a method of control. My life has been so completely out of control for the past 3 years (finishing up high school, being let down by friends and a boyfriend, having my mother pass away, my father drinking, financial problems causing us to lose our vehicles, our house, twice, and many of our friends) and running was the one thing I could control – or more so I could control my body. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa June of last year, and I was utterly terrified.
    I have been to hospital, treatment and therapy and I would definitely say that i have had a lot of freedom come back into my life. Running is still something I struggle with from time to time: when I have a difficult day (or week) I will turn to running to numb everything out. I do have a good relationship with running too though. On really good days, I can listen to my body and what it wants and what its limits are.
    I guess I’m telling you all this because I understand where you’re coming from. And it is really reassuring to me to know of someone else that has had the same struggle. So thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart. xx

  18. Cecilia says

    I strained my back about 6 months ago, and had to give up all my usual forms of exercise. Running, spinning, weightlifting. All of it, gone! After 10 years of constant workouts! I panicked at first, but have come to realuze that I do fine without logging all those hours in the gym and out on the trail. I eat better now, since I’m not constantly starving due to long and tedious workouts, and my bodyweight has actually stayed the same! My back is still in recovery, and I’m in pain most of the time, so I’ve actually quit the gym (!)… That alone will save me 700 dollars (4000kr) a year:) So it’s win-win fir me too!

    • Cecilia Arvidsson says

      I’ve experienced that exact same thing. And it really is true about the nutrition-part of the equation. When I did 5-8 hours of workouts every week I was constantly hungry and always had to watch what I ate to not overdo it. I craved carbs! PASTACARBS:D But now I can eat much more fruit and veggies without feeling like I’m missing something. And my shape has improved A LOT by only lifting weights for a total of 90 minutes per 7 days (!),

  19. Ashlie says

    I’m going through this right now. I ran 7-10 miles everyday for the last year…not missing a day even when the wind chill was -20. I knew it my head it was crazy and I am so happy I didn’t injure myself. I’ve cut back to 3-4 times a week, with shorter runs. I however am starting to feel anxious about the weight gain…really anxious. I am also vegan and feel though I eat not refined sugar or grains I do eat too many fruit based carbs and too little protein. I really struggle with figuring out how to get in more protein…my main sources are nuts, beans, and seeds. Where do you get most of your protein?

  20. A says

    Katie, I so appreciate this post and absolutely identify with all that you wrote. I love(d) running too until I realized it was something I “had” to do. It was a trap and so far removed from the reasons why I loved it in the first place! I appreciate your transparency and pray that you will continue to find freedom and peace in your decision to run or not to run.

  21. Rose says

    Katie, thank you so much for your blog and recipes. You look great, by the way! I kept beating myself up for having lost the love of running, I once had. As got into my 30s, I seemed to get slower and slower and more and more drained. It helped knowing that I am not the only one who no longer runs, even though at one point it was what brought me so much joy. You mentioned you go to the gym…Have you tried biking or rollerblading? Sometimes switching things up makes outdoor excersing more fun. Thanks for all your desert recipes! I have been sharing them with my brother and sis and can’t wait for my nephew and niece to try your healthy fudge recipe– delicious!! Thanks for sharing your easy recipes, and your experiences with running.



  22. em says

    I’m giving up extreme walking in hopes of it helping my fertility (I currently am experiencing ammenohrea)… it is SO challenging for me but I can relate to you. I’m only on day three, but I am so much more ME with the extra time I have in my days now! and my body is so much less sore! you rarely, if ever, read a bout anyone giving up exercise so I’m so glad you wrote this and I came across it when I did. thank you for the inspiration!

  23. Tara says

    OMG so I just stumbled upon this.. while searching pb and molasses which is something I enjoyed as a child and was lookig for recipes… anyway the real point is are you the Katie who loved vendetta red in college? I followed a Katie on something like myspace or one of those online forums back in 2002ish… abyway she ran, like I did and loved baking, like I did, and I’m pretty sure she was in pennisylvania cause she was all about the fall weather and running in it.. what stuck out most tho was vendetta red because I became a fan …anyway…let me know if you are her that would be insane. Hahah.

  24. Amanda Haselden says

    I don’t know HOW I’m just coming across this post, but I had to laugh out loud at the “third a jar of peanut butter mixed with coconut oil.” I thought I was the ONLY person to do this! I am a crazy runner as well, and am constantly, voraciously hungry. I LOVE good, healthy fats, and sometimes tend to go overboard. My obsession is actually cashew butter with coconut oil, but same idea, right? 🙂 Thanks for sharing and helping me know I’m not alone in that lol!

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Haha this made me smile to see your comment too. My current favorite is peanut butter mixed with sunflower oil, cacao powder, chia seeds, and a little salt and maple syrup. Or Trader Joes mixed nut butter with carob powder… an attempt to try and add variety to my diet.

      There’s just something about eating straight from the jar… 🙂

  25. Secret says

    I love your honesty! You look great and I’m glad you took care of yourself and listened to your body. I love all your recipes.

  26. Kim says

    Hi Katie!

    I love your blog, and have been a fan of your recipes ever since trying your black bean brownies. Didn’t know we shared this obsessive exercise thing. I still love exercise, but it is not connected with self hate, punishment, body hatred, or inability to express emotions. I am really grateful. This obsession was brutal. And not many people get it bc « exercise is good for you ». Anyway thank you for sharing!

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