I’ve avoided running for the last 7 years of my life. In late 2010 my friend Simone asked me to train for a half-marathon with her and I agreed to do so. It was a total flop consisting of junk food at the starting line and ending up with us at a bar drinking bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. A disappointing return to running to say the least. From the age of 16 to 22 I loved running. I would run after school before starting homework when track season wasn’t in session. In college, I decided to try my hand (feet?) at long distance. I ran in the rain, sleet (rain + snow for those of you who have never experienced such thing), snow and woke up early before the onset of the typical Midwest blistering, humid summer day. After tackling a full marathon and a sprinkling of halfs, injuries started to pile up. Shin splints followed by stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. My body was not subtle in telling me to find a new form of exercise.
Hello, group fitness!
The control freak in me (most of the time I keep it under wraps!) wanted to lead classes, not simply take them. I started with my Spinning certification and added a few more along the way, enjoying the learning and creativity, not to mention the community, created through group exercise. I was went steady with my-post running-lover, group fitness for seven years. I worked with a great fitness production company for most of 2010 and 2011, believing I wanted to be one of their lead instructors. Something felt off about wanting this goal. Signs of burnout were already settling into place.
I went from teaching a few classes a week for fun to teaching 6-8 classes a week as a necessary part of my income. I started to grow resentful of having to schedule my life AROUND exercise instead of enjoying it as part of my day. Teaching in L.A. studios meant filling large studios and popularity contests in order to be paid well. Women with 0% body fat complained to me on a weekly basis about their “trouble spots”. Serious cyclists called me out for not being ”serious” enough. The fun factor was rapidly diminishing with each passing week.
Burnout can happen in every career type and field. After 2 years of politics, a legal dispute and the “L.A. fitness scene”, it was time for a break (such an advocate for vacations!). I asked my group fitness managers to take me off the regular rotation and place on their sub lists. I have not been on a schedule with my fitness since September of last year and have not subbed a class in 2 months. It’s been glorious. I’ve tried new workouts, spontaneously busted out my jump rope while working at home and said “yes” to being outside as often as possible.
A “duh Erin, life is teaching you a lesson” moment, to say the least. Keep the fire fueled for your passions over a lifetime by maintaining perspective and balance. I had a hard time letting go because I had turned my passion into part of my identity. Is that healthy? Maybe. Maybe not. The danger lies in becoming dogmatic or a zealot, allowing your passion control your life. Keep the crazy in check, okay?
On a happier note, after keeping my distance from gyms and routine for the last few months, I’m looking to rekindle a relationship. Your wisdom in answering my burning questions about gym memberships (here’s looking at you Equinox) on Facebook ROCKED! Last night I went to my first Spinning class in over 2 months. I had fun. I let go. I felt a tiny spark of wanting to be the teacher, but reminded myself to keep it in check.
I’m also giving running another chance. On St. Patrick’s Day it was raining in L.A. and I felt compelled to lace up my beautiful new Pumas and hit the pavement. I ran for me and because it felt good – no big goals or objective. I leave you with playlist love (links provided; d/l’ed from iTunes if there’s no link). I’d LOVE to hear about your experiences with exercise – what do you love? what do you not-so-much love about exercise?
Paradise // Coldplay
Paris // JayZ & Kanye West
Money Grabber // Fitz & the Tantrums
Cinema // Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go
Flaws // Bastille
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