once a runner

Mary Dougherty

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I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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I’ve considered myself a runner for many years now. A consistent part of my everyday life, some days more willingly than others, I’ve never strayed to far before coming back. That’s why it’s so hard when running is taken away.

Two months ago I walked the last mile of a 4 mile run in such pain I could barely get around the house the rest of the day. Perhaps a combination of one too many ankle rolls, loosening tendons and ligaments, and inflexibility it took me out for 6 weeks. (I never definitively found the cause, it was so busy I moved straight to taking time off). This was right at the time when Matt and I started traveling, which was in a way convenient for taking a break from running. Besides being the longest break in a few years, it was also the point that things starting to look like “she looks out of shape” before moving on to “oh, she’s having a baby!” Naturally, it was a challenge to sit out and see my body gradually change – as it should – while taking a break from running to heal.

While it’s great to have things that define you as a person, it’s easy to get caught up in defining yourself by those things. Finding too much value in being a runner – or a photographer – can leave you feeling empty in those seasons of challenge or change. So, while those two things (running and photography) are big parts of my life, I’m always reminded that my value is not determined by how good, consistent, or popular I am in those areas. Hopefully it will be less about me and more about other people… and I’m pretty sure having a baby works wonders on any selfishness.

I’m happy to say that I’ve slowly been adding mileage and increasing my running now that my injury is 85% gone. I’m learning to be a different runner right now, and enjoying the challenge of staying in relative shape while pregnant. It’s the first week of Cross-Country preseason for our runners and for those of you who didn’t know I’m an assistant coach for the team. It’s been a great week so far of diving in to training, and if you need a jump start with your training take a look at one of the core routines we do, adapted from Coach Jay Johnson.

The plan for me is to stay healthy and run for as long as I can, while adding in some cross-training especially towards then end. If you’re pregnant too I hope you go look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re doing great. I say keep up the good work, exercise when you can, and enjoy the journey which is going to be as different for you as it is for me. For those of you interested in what I look like, here’s a “not trying to hide anything since running clothes don’t lie” shot for you, taken a few days ago at 4 months. Now, who’s up for a snack?

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