When to Quit Running

[00:00:00] Never say quit. It’s a very common saying, right, never say quit. And I would be the first one that, well, why would I tell you to quit running? I’ve been doing it for 20 years, but there may be a time when it’s finally time to hang up the shoes.

[00:00:25] I’m Jesse Funk this is a show I call Runner’s High where we talk about everything running. So if you like running, even if you’re considering quitting, you should probably hit subscribe to stick around with me for more episodes so that if you decide not to quit, you get more advice. But if this is your final episode, well, you still want to stick around because I do another show called The Smart Athlete Podcast, where you can get broader perspectives about athletics life from some very great people, from amateurs to pros to world champions.

[00:00:57] In any case, we want to talk about, is it time to quit running? This is something that I think we all grapple with. And the first thing you have to know is that it doesn’t have to be permanent if it is time to quit running for most of us. If it is an injury, that just means you simply can’t run anymore and your doctor says Don’t run, then that probably is time to quit and you don’t need my advice. But often it comes from a place of burnout. And I saw this and have seen this through, I don’t know how many of my my teammates that I had in high school and college.

[00:01:39] You work out so hard for so long and you just you just need to quit. You just need to stop. If you find yourself in a place of burnout where you feel like life is coming at you at an unsustainable pace and you just simply can’t keep up with it. Running is no longer a source of joy or stress relief. It’s probably time to quit.

[00:02:05] It’s probably time to walk away for a while until you come back to a place where you feel more comfortable putting a little bit time. And I know if you’re like me, it’s hard. It’s hard to admit, it’s hard to say, it’s hard to think about. You feel guilty. You’re not going to get your run in. Gross! Gross! 

[00:02:29] Why would we not do what we have to do to run, you know, X, Y and Z? They’re depending on me. Who would I be if I’m not a runner? I’ve talked to a number of guests on the Smart Athlete Podcast over the years about this idea of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. The one one person that comes to mind. Professional cricketer from South Africa, Mangaliso Mosehle.

[00:03:02] We had a good conversation, intermittent internet connection about this story, about who who we are and a number of other people on Smart Athlete Podcast. So if you want to hear from really great people again, subscribe. But that’s one of the things that’s a challenge when we decide, Hey, maybe, maybe I want to quit. Because I’m a runner. I run. That’s what I do. Who would I be?

[00:03:28] But your identity is more than just a runner. And if your mental health and your physical health is suffering because you’re trying to cram in these runs amid all other kinds of things, then it may be time to quit. And it can be temporary. And that’s okay to tell yourself as well. It’s a temporary quit. It’s a pause. Maybe it’s not a quit, just a pause for now and then see how you feel.

[00:03:57] You may go through a period of struggle where you go again, Who am I if I’m not running? Who am I? And that’s something where I think I would encourage you to find other things that help you define who you are. Maybe it’s your family, maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s your hobbies. If you have other hobbies, you know, what are the things that the people around you would say about you that you wouldn’t say about yourself those characteristics? Are you dependable? Are you loyal? Are you strong? Are you brave? Are you courageous? What things define you? And sometimes those are your actions.

[00:04:42] For a long time it’s been running, but that’s not the only thing that you do, right? We don’t all run 24 hours a day. We do all the kinds of other things. And if you’re experiencing burnout, you’re probably doing a lot of things. So what characteristics are you exhibiting? That’s one way to think about letting go of running when you know it’s time to quit because you have this sensation of burnout, this unsustainable pace of work.

[00:05:09] Then dealing with that story of who I tell myself, who I am. You figure out all the other things that you are and it becomes easier to let go of that, “I’m just a runner” identity. Beyond burnout, though, it may be time to quit. If you find something else you’re more interested in? It’s not just burnout.

[00:05:30] Sometimes there’s the monotony of it, and there is actually a lot of solace and kind of potential uplifting attitude you can find in the monotony of running. But if you’re not finding it and something else kind of hits that thing where you go, I’m excited to do that. Maybe it’s pickleball. Everybody’s all about pickleball right now. Go do that. It’s okay.

[00:05:56] It’s okay to quit running and go play pickleball or whatever it is you want to do. Rock climb. It doesn’t have to define you. And though I obviously do a show about running and I’ve been running for a long time. That’s the thing that I do. But I always have to keep myself open to the possibility that that is not all of what defines who I am.

There are the things that define who I am and knowing that your main objective is to take care of yourself so that you live in a place where in the evening you go, I had a good day. I’m happy to be here. That’s probably more important than saying, well, I put in all my miles and maybe you don’t have that perfect day every day, but you want to have more of them than not.

[00:06:50] And if running is a source of stress instead of a source of joy, then it’s time to quit. My last thoughts here on this kind of esoteric video or I don’t have any hard and fast rules for you, is that again, if you take the idea of I’m going to take care of myself first, whatever form that comes in, be it meditation or a physical activity or eating well, the things that again, help you perform and function in your everyday life. If you do those things, then I think you’re going to set yourself up for a life well-lived.

[00:07:30] If that means that it no longer involves running, it’s been great to know you. I wish I could have you stick around for more, but you need to take care of you. If that means that running does is included in your self-care routine, then you’re in the right place.

[00:07:54] And I’m happy to talk about the nuances of that or whatever you’re struggling with down to the comments below. Leave me your story. If you need an ear to to be lent to you, somebody who will listen to know what’s going on with you when maybe somebody else in your life doesn’t understand. Let me know. Happy to help you out if you do decide to stick around. Please subscribe so I can give you more videos every week. I look forward to hearing your story and I wish you the best.

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