Quick backstory here:
I started running in middle school because my dad ran and it looked fun. I enjoyed the challenge and stuck with it through varsity cross country and track in high school and then three years of division one college cross country with Niagara University. It wasn’t until seven years after I started running that I took a year off for my thesis. That’s a long time.
Naturally, not running felt weird. I rarely ever took more than a single day off during a week, and even then I usually still did core exercises and short runs on my off days just to stay fit. Most mornings I woke up early to do workouts and long runs and I raced once, sometimes twice a week for long stretches of time. Not running was relaxing and it gave me vital time to work on my massive thesis paper, but something felt like it was missing. A big part of my life was just gone.
Now that I've graduated, reclaiming that part of myself has become something of a project for me. Job searching is still my primary focus so competition is no longer on my mind at the moment, but the need to stay in shape is something that doesn't disappear after a collegiate career has been completed.
That's what it's about, really; not just being healthy, but feeling healthy as well. Sometimes, too much competition can be mentally draining. Too little activity can make one feel lethargic though, so there's a balance that I need to learn to strike through trial and error. I've never had to learn how to do this until now because I've always had a constant regiment to follow, so figuring myself out has been something of an adventure in itself. Learning to read the signs my body is showing me and slowly work back to where I once was in terms of physical capability has come in fits and starts, but I know I'm far from the only one who has had to do this. I feel confident, and I look forward to a life with running for me and no one else. That's the beauty of being free to run what feels right for myself.
And who knows? I might end up taking on the marathon some day. Today though, I feel just fine writing and relaxing, and that choice is mine and mine alone. It's liberating.