Run With It: From the Highest High to the Lowest Low Why My Running Journey Is Currently on Pause

Running Woman

Introducing Maya Fitzpatrick (she/her) @mayahoodblog. Maya, a mom to three boys, writes candidly about the trials and tribulations she has experience during her running. She details the injuries and set-backs, and the good and bad in her running journey during the last few years of the pandemic. Maya has been running as long as she can remember and prefers summer running over winter running.

By: Maya Fitzpatrick

My running story began 20 years ago, when on a whim, I ran my first half marathon with my then boyfriend (now husband) and his family. With minimal training (if you want to call it that), and non-running, no-lace, Skechers shoes, I completed my first half marathon at 2 hours and 20 minutes. Nothing to brag about, considering it took me days to recover, but this one event propelled me into a 20-year running journey.

Although my running journey has been somewhat unconventional, it’s something that I’m very proud of; it defines a part of me. It’s what I do to release stress, get my much-needed alone time, and my favourite form of exercise. And while I absolutely love the running community, and have joined several running groups, I mostly run solo. I love races because it’s what motivates me to run more often, but I never worry about my speed or how I finish.

My goal is simple: FINISH!

I have since ran over 10 half-marathons, and several 10km races. My dream was to run a full marathon before I turned 40. I got myself a coach and followed the plan to a T. In October 2019, I completed my first marathon and swore that I would never run one again. Of course, that was short-lived because I’m currently signed up to run a virtual NYC marathon this Fall which would qualify me for the in-person race in the Fall of 2023 (another dream of mine).

Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of a kink in my plans. It all started a few months after I completed my full-marathon race. I was on top of my running game, in the best physical shape of my life and in overall great health both physically and mentally. But then covid happened. My mental health took a hit and for some unexplained reason, I stopped running and working out. In the summer of 2020, I realized that the best thing for my mental health would be to start running again. But when I did, I could barely manage running 5km. I went from running a half marathon ‘for fun’ to being physically incapable of completing a
short run. Every kilometer felt like I was dragging my feet, which felt like rocks, glued to the ground, unable or willing to move me even one more step. I felt defeated but I pressed on.

At first, I was against joining races virtually, but realized it’s the motivation I needed. In 2021, I found the strength to race again; albeit virtually, and it felt great. Although I never managed to get back to the same place I was in 2019, I found my NEW sweet spot, and I was in a good place. I realized that I just can’t compare my current best with my previous self and learned to focus on the NOW instead of constantly comparing to the past.

This continued through to 2022 until suddenly, I started feeling foot pain in my right foot. While I’ve never experienced a severe running injury, I wasn’t new to running pain. I just assumed it would eventually go away. So, I did what most runners do, and I just kept running. Except the pain never went away and in fact, it got continuously worse. To the point that it hurt when I was walking. That’s when I made the heartbreaking decision to stop running so I can let it heal. I have since went for an X-ray and bone-scan, with inconclusive results, except to note that there’s been ‘trauma’ to my foot.

It’s tough finding myself back to square 1, AGAIN, but I’m hopeful that once my foot is healed, I’ll be back up and running again. Slowly working my way up to running a half with ease and getting some training under my belt for a (slow) marathon. As always, my goal is never to be the fastest or the best, but just to finish. Although it feels like I’m so far away from where I need to be, I know that eventually, I will get to run again, and I will finish my next race!

It’s not where I thought I would be or where I want to be, but I guess that’s part of running. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions full of ups and downs and like most things, it’s not about the destination, but the journey that makes it all worth while.