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Why I Gave Up Running

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while…

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

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.

why I gave up running

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

 

5/5 (3)

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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 
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ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day!

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248 Comments

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  1. Chef Amber Shea says

    So proud of you for listening to your body, Katie! And for talking about it, as well – exercise isn’t ALWAYS the healthy outlet it’s made out to be; it can run already-ragged bodies (often of type-A personalities – me!) into the ground. I’m happy to hear you’ve found balance. 🙂

  2. Jordan Younger says

    Katie- thank you so much for sharing this post. It’s such a beautiful reminder that we should never feel like we HAVE to do something just because we once loved it and because its supposed to be good for us. The much more important thing is to listen to our bodies and pay attention to how they evolve. I so needed to hear this right now!!! Thanks lovely 🙂

  3. Allison says

    Sweet Katie,
    I laughed reading this because after 12 years of faithfully running, I just took a year off. It was so incredibly liberating. I found I had so much more time in my day. I’ve tell my friends, I’m not suggesting you all quit exercising because it’s good for you, but allowing your body a break when it needs it is FABULOUS and should be done with NO guilt. You go girl. Loved this.

  4. Tami Vigil says

    🙂 you go! I did the same a year ago. I still workout like a crazy person. Many ways to exercise and get that inner glow. Changing up your routine helps and gives new life to your body. Loved the post and love the recipes thanks and hugs.

  5. Susan says

    Katie, I think you’ve learned some very valuable lessons here. I’ve found that if I let myself get really burned out on something, it’s difficult to get back to doing it at all. Sometimes that’s okay, sometimes I have to persuade myself to go back. I think we all handle life better when we don’t increase stress by forcing ourselves to do things we really don’t need to do. And all of us are complex people – there is way more to us than our work or a hobby, even if we are not aware of it. 🙂

  6. Cassandra says

    Thank you for sharing this! I pretty much gave up running a year ago (aside from the occasional the-weather’s-too-perfect-not-to jog!) & I was so scared to lose some of my identity too. But the choice has helped me be so much healthier mentally and physically. I’ve actually lost weight focusing on lower impact exercise like walking and yoga. It’s amazing how our bodies seem to know just where they’d like to be! So glad you’re feeling better!

  7. Talia says

    When I was trying to lose weight I would do Pilates or run about 4-5 times a day and I felt really energetic and slowly I plateaued and felt burnt out by the exercise and really dreaded doing it. But I forced myself and it seemed like a chore. And when I finally listened to my body and stopped I actually started losing weight again! It’s amazing how well you can do if you just listen to your body!

  8. Kenzie says

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been experiencing the same thing with my running the past few months and have been feeling extreme guilt over it. It’s so glad to know that I’m not the only one! I’m confident I will get back into it…but right now I feel no rush. Thanks again!

  9. kaceyjt says

    Such a great post! I, too, have struggled with where running fits in my life. When I was injured about a year ago from over-training, I thought that I would die without being able to run 5 times a week. However, I think my body was telling me I needed to slow down. I still run, but instead of 5 times a week doing a high mileage, I run when I feel like it and for as far as I feel like it! No more obligatory running!

  10. Joelle Gilmore says

    Well said. I enjoy all of your posts, and this one is particularly timely. I thought Running and strenuous exercise in general were central to my being when multiple sclerosis dropped me on my butt, and made me realize I was so much more. I still swim and do Pilates reformer when it is right, but I feel free somehow knowing I don’t HAVE to run.

    Thanks for sharing

  11. Sarah says

    Thank you for sharing this Katie. I’ve had a similar experience. I used to run every day for long distances. It started out as a way of relieving stress and I really enjoyed it but then I started to fixate on the amount of food I was eating and whether or not I was running long enough to “burn it all off”. I got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying running and would nearly have panic attacks if I didn’t go for my daily run.

    I’ve stopped running now, initially due to an injury, and am working on finding a balance between not over exercising and having a more healthy mindset towards food.

  12. Valerie says

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been missing running so much since the weather has cooled down too much to get out. But I’ve been lifting weights and hating it. I hope to follow your example and do what makes me feel best, not just because I “need” to do it. 🙂 Thank you.

  13. Jen Leppert says

    Good for you Katie! Sometimes the added stress of feeling like we “have”to do something, just makes it worse. You need to enjoy your “Me” time, change it up, take a break, whatever you need.
    I’m so glad that you have found your Zen again! You’re blog is one of my favorites! I always share your posts!
    Thanks for your honesty!

  14. Douglas Anderson says

    Katie, You have my sympathies. I am probably one of the worst readers of your blogs despite being a passionate vegan and always looking for new ideas, but time is always of the essence.

    Know that you have people in this group who will support you no matter what happens. Take strength in knowing that their are people out here who admire all that you do and will always offer you the proverbial shoulder should you need one.

  15. Jill says

    Thank You for sharing this with all of us, even tho you normally dont want to share much of your personal life. I am glad you listened to your body (and soul) and did the right thing for yourself, and were not afraid to let everyone know! Women so often fear not being “perfect” (which there IS no perfection) when it comes to food, body, and exercise. We need to give ourselves a break – the stress and anxiety of trying to do it all will make people just as sick as unhealthy diets. I know this!

    You look amazing, and i hope you continue to be well. People need to not worry about gaining weight if they stop running – if they eat healthy their body will find the right weight for them, and they can find other exercises if need be. Be healthy, everyone!

  16. Alanna says

    So sorry to hear about the breakup and other life stressors! I’ve been dealing with a number of them myself the last few months and gave up calorie counting back in August when it started to feel like just another thing stressing me out. I plan to get back on track with healthier eating after the holidays, but sometimes your brain and/or body just needs a rest. I hope things start to look up for you soon!

  17. SparkleDust says

    Wow thank you for sharing this Katie! That was very brave of you, I never would have guessed it. I completely understand the running thing, I had to take a (quick) break from it too. I was running like 6-8 miles and it was getting really boring without someone to run with (i recently moved too!) so I decided to do Crossfit instead.

    Best. Choice. Ever.

    Seriously! You should totally try Crossfit, I bet you’d love it! Anyway, now I’m back to running, but only 2-2.5 miles once or twice a week. I still have a goal to run a half and full marathon, but not until I take a longer break and find a running group! 🙂

    Anyway, once again thank you so much for sharing this, I’m so glad you’re taking a breather from running and not just miserably forcing yourself out there! So sorry about your break up too, i hope you feel better, love. <3

  18. Michelle says

    What an awesome post! I love this and I did notice is a recent picture that I thought you looked even prettier! I couldn’t tell what the change was. 🙂

  19. Fran says

    Hi Katie,
    What a brave and thoughtful post. It can’t have been easy to write but I hope that it has helped you to put it down on “paper”, and I’m sure it will strike a chord with others. In fact, I found it surprising that it made me start thinking along the same lines about my driving commute- ok not the same (for one, I’ve never enjoyed it) but maybe elements are-I know when I’ve had a break I have felt happier, calmer, had a lot more energy and looked better and less tired. I have been pondering giving it up for months now..Maybe it’s about time I bit the bullet and be brave enough to make the decision that I can longer continue doing it.

  20. Megan L. says

    Thank you for posting this. I had a similar experience only I started out playing softball and running cross country (to keep me in shape for softball and help my speed). After running for what seemed like my whole life, I stopped enjoying it when I got to high school. I found other outlets for my energy that make me as happy as running did. When I quit, that was all people would talk to me about when my next race was or how training was going. I felt like maybe I should still run. I kind of had the mindset of once a runner, always a runner. Mindsets, like societal molds, are made to be broken. So I just let my foot off the gas until I simply stopped. I still do the occasional 5K with friends or for a good cause. Now running has become social to me and not an everyday need. Glad to know I’m not the only one! Thank you.

  21. Kate says

    I’m a longtime reader and wanted to say thank you for this post! I actually went through the same thing – after years of running 6-10 miles everyday, I had to quit because of plantar fasciitis in my feet. This was at the same time as graduating college (and freaking out about the future), a breakup, and moving back in with my parents – horrible timing. Running always helped me with anxiety so having to stop because of an injury was hard. I worried that not running would cause me to gain weight, and I did gain a few pounds at first from stress-eating (about not being able to run!) but soon I went back to normal, and overall I do feel better now even without running. And now almost two years later my feet are finally better (for the most part) and I am slowly starting to run again, and it’s something I look forward to! I think hurting my feet was my body’s way of telling me I was burnt out, and although it was stressful at the time, I think it made me realize I’m not “just” a runner. I wouldn’t wish plantar fasciitis (or a breakup, or any other stressful events) on anyone but sometimes it works out for the best in the long run. Anyways thank you for sharing!

  22. Livi says

    you are so courageous for sharing so much of yourself! I think that our lives and our routines go through different phases and it’s really important to listen to what our body is telling us. good job listening !

  23. michelle says

    That is so awesome. After being a competitive runner in cross country in college and playing sports my whole life, I twisted my ankle and wore out the disc’s in my back. I can relate to your post and hope that one day I can run like I have in the past.

  24. Angie Dye says

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. You are a wonderful example to so many young women and what a fantastic message to share about the importance of listening to your body!

  25. Emily says

    Hey Katie,
    I just want to say I am also very proud of you. I know how hard it must have been to listen to your body and let go. I know you must have felt out of control and scared, but I am certain it was the right thing to do. You needed to gain weight and your body will be so much better off. Exercise is always a fine balance between not over or under doing it. I hope you never beat yourself up for not working out. I hope you continue to eat and not over-exercise and let your body go to where it wants to be. As long as you eat a balanced diet and just go for a walk every day, your body will stay in a healthy range. I hope you continue to trust your body and get to a healthy weight that will make you feel so much stronger. I know you can do it. And as others have said, try not to worry too much about the future. I am in the same boat as you, but I try to remember to just take it a day at a time. You don’t have to have everything figured out right now. Just go where your heart leads you. I have no doubt that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to! Trust your body, trust yourself, and trust the process of your life! Sending encouragement and support!

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Thanks, Emily :).
      Just to clarify so no one reads this and gets the wrong idea, I wanted—not needed—to gain weight. I was healthy before (despite what the mostly-untrue internet rumors say about me), but am much happier now!

  26. miriam says

    Ah, I love this post…I recently had to stop running due to a stress fracture, and a big part of my fear was “who was I going to be when I couldn’t run?” As my friend best put it “you are so much more than just a runner” and it’s taken me three weeks to fully embrace that.
    And just doing weights/the bike/elliptical means that I’m way stronger and have noticed, ahem, improvements in the chest area now I’m not running. This is totally a bonus 🙂

    • T says

      Hello fellow stress fracture injured lady!

      I had my stress fracture two summers ago. I am basically healed physically, but mentally I just don’t want to do those long runs anymore. I am getting into boot camp and HIIT fit classes and they kick my butt every time. Running is easy compared to those classes!

    • Letitia says

      I had a pretty bad calf tear that I had to rest. That was such a hard time. I also had to love myself as I rested and not beat myself up. I’ve since been walking and watching my calorie intake. I also took your blog as a metaphor cause sometimes I need to hang up my “shoes” and stop trying to do everything and be ok with it. I love your blog, girl!

  27. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun says

    wow love this post! Thank you for your honesty! While I still love running it isn’t for everyone and each person needs to find what makes them happy. This is what my husband constantly tells me! I am injured so have had to take a break from running, but I can’t wait to get back out there. Each person is different and I think that is what is important to remember – you have to do what is best for you!

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