I recently saw the film “McFarland, USA.” It is based on the true story of the McFarland high school cross country team. Watching the film reminded me of how much I loved running. I felt like I should have been running while watching the film honestly. It’s an inspirational story. I was a dedicated runner in high school and was awarded for that dedication at the End-of-year banquet after every season.

When I got to college, I would wake up bright an early and take a run towards the beach. I took yoga to help me with my running. When I went through my master’s degree program I also ran. I ran around Balboa park and often squeezed in my runs in between my internship and class. I was such a dedicated runner I lost count of how many times I went to physical therapy for injury’s. I let nothing stop me. If I couldn’t run on asphalt, I’d run on the treadmill, but only if the physical therapist gave me the green light.

Running was my stress release and I continued to run until I couldn’t.

It was during my doctoral journey that I realized I had to stop running. When I see people jogging or running, I reminisce. I have great memories of my times on the cross country and track teams in high school. I also ran in youth track. At the same time, when I hear people talk about running marathons or running despite their injuries, I cringe. Stomping on ground can do a lot of harm to your body. There’s a reason most professional athletes have short professional careers. There’s also a reason why some athletes sit in tubs of ice after an intense competition. These athletes, however, often get all the professional help they need.

The thing is, there is a lot going on with our bodies that we can’t see.

It took an MRI for me to find out what was causing my pain. I found out I have a couple issues with my back. Some of it is hereditary, so I was told. If I really wanted to, I could run, but…I know I be in a lot of pain after. It was not worth it for me anymore. It became more important for me to prioritize my health over the sport. After all, running was a hobby for me, not my career. I have had the luxury and the ability to make the decision to retire from running.

There are other forms of exercise I have explored and adopted that I probably would have never done if I had not stopped running. I’ve done Pilates, HIIT, spinning and road biking. I even walk for exercise now. If I had known earlier what I know now, I would have left running a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I miss running at times, however, I’ve learned that taking care of my body is more important to me.

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