Monday, April 25, 2011

My Deep Dark Running Secret

I have a secret to share with you.

A secret you would never guess given that I have a blog with which I talk at you about my running.

For a very, very long time, I Kept Running a Secret.

Where to begin....

I first began to run purely for pleasure -- rather than for soccer or track -- immediately after high school. 

Throughout my 4.5 years of undergrad at UCLA, and through all 3 years of law school in the Bay Area, I kept up a consistent routine of 40-90 miles per week (injury periods not included).

It became a secret almost immediately.  I had two roommates in my tiny little freshman dorm, and the lack of privacy made me feel as though they were tracking my every move. 

I woke up to run the perimeter of campus every morning (4 hilly miles), and every now and then would run some laps around the track in the late evening as well (late, as in 10:00 p.m. -- it helped me fall asleep). 

For some reason, I began to think of my daily runs as a source of shame.  It was too disciplined and regular for someone who should be wildly and chaotically enjoying their freshman year.  (Although, I did spend plenty of time being wild and chaotic). 

To appease my roommates questions of "You're running AGAIN!?  Didn't you run Yesterday!?!"  I started trying to hide it.  I would claim I was going for a walk, or I would pack gym clothes in my backpack and shower at the gym before coming home. 

Then, as running became easier and I became stronger, I added distance -- my daily 30 minute run became a daily 45 minute run.  A year later, it became a 60 minute run.  A year later, 75 minutes.  Etc etc, until my calorie intake wasn't able to keep up.

And so I looked like this:

no. comment.

Then it became more important than ever to keep running a secret.  It was much, much too important to me to let go, but I knew in my skinny state, people who cared about me would advise (or beg) me to give it up.

This is really cutting a long story short (maybe one day I'll devote a full post to these years), but with the help of some Athlete Nutrition books, I learned how to maintain my milage and some meat on my bones (short explanation: eat constantly.  every hour).

Yet still, even in my healthier body, I couldn't get rid of my inclination to hide my running habit/passion.  When I began dating cutie-pie-panini in 2007, I kept the extent of my running a secret for at least a month -- mysteriously only coming over after noon, mysteriously leaving his place before 10:00 a.m. (I'm strictly a morning runner if you didn't know).

Then two things happened.

1) I found the running-blog community.

There were people equally nuts online! 
People who wake up at 5:00 to run double-digit miles! 
People who think it is admirable rather than disordered to run 70 miles a week!
People who understand an obsession with the marathon distance!

I quietly read for 3 years.

2) I became friends, through Panini, with a fantastic woman and die-hard runner, Lesley.

Lesley lives, breathes, and talks talks TALKS running!  She does a significant amount of socializing while running.  She is, in short, the opposite of who I was: NOT SHY about her running :)

When she found out I had a few marathons under my belt, she asked questions -- what times do I run?  How far did I run today?  I would shrug my shoulders, not really knowing how to share something that I normally never talked about.

Throughout the last 3 years, I have grown more and more comfortable talking "runner language" with Lesley, and have admired how much passion she has for the running community -- for the act of sharing the love of running with others.

She showed me how nice it would be to come out of my running shell.

Something has been lost now that I have opened by running mouth.  It's less personal now, more shared.   Less humble, more bragadocious -- and probably to some, annoying. 

Time to Spill: do you keep the extent of your running a secret from people in your life?  Any other spicy secrets harboring inside that you suddenly HAVE to get out right here on the internet in the comments below?


  1. Oh I am sooo happy you learned how to eat right and be a runner! It would have been so sad for you to have to give up this passion.

    I hike every morning at 5:30, but I tell anyone who will listen.

  2. I don't talk about running that much in regular life because I always think people will think I'm boring. But sometimes, people (especially my co-workers) will ask me TONS of questions, and always seem surprised by my answers. I don't think I run that much, but I guess inactive people think it's a lot.

  3. Love this post! I'm happy that you are in a better state of mind now!! :)

    I love to talk about running to the ones that have questions or want to know more about it. My husband doesn't run so he doesn't quite "get it" and think marathon running/training is extreme. Since I've found the blogging community it's been a great outlet to share with others that have the same obsession.

    Yay, for LA marathon!! What year did you run?? I ran 2004,'05,'07,'09,'10,'11 (year 2006 & 2008) I had my two boys. (2004 was my 1st marathon)

  4. Great post! I'd love to ask you a few questions about it, so if you could send me an e-mail, that would be awesome! : )

    Happy Tuesday!

  5. Wow I can't believe you kept it a secret for so long! I don't think I could have run any marathons without the running community. I get a few crazy comments every now and then "you're addicted. Oh, you must be sick because of all that running" but most people are supportive. I can't keep secrets, I'm terrible at it!

  6. holy sh*t. No wonder you kept it a secret, I bet b8tches were whispering sh*t cause of how skinny you were. At least you own it now and you are HEALTHY. Even though I am not "skinny", a few girls made rumors about me in high school cause I ate a ton and wasn't obese...sorry I work out!

  7. I keep my running pretty public through my blog (but even then I don't really talk about how much I run. sometimes I elude to mileage, but most of the time I just mention that I did run). My closest friends (and obviously the hubs) know how passionate I am about it, but I get really uncomfortable talking about it with people casually - a lot of times I feel judged and like they think I'm weird for loving to run.

  8. I've made all of my friends here through running, so I don't hide it at all. I don't really talk about it to non-running friends, but for the same reason I don't talk about my baby to friends without kids, I assume it would bore them.

    I'm glad you've learned the pleasures of constant eating :)

  9. Great story! I'm amazed that you were able to keep it a secret for so long! One of my friends went to UCLA and also did laps around the school - I think it was called "Bruin run". I visited him once when he was there, and went on the run with him, it was a nice run. Glad that you are now public with your running hobby!

  10. This is interesting..I can see why and how you could keep this part of you a secret. I get it. I don't hide my running but I don't discuss it with my family and close friends anymore. At first I did, I was so proud of what I could do but when I started adding miles ( nowhere near your mileage!) and doing longer distances in training and also races I stopped because I got mostly negative comments. I lost a lot of weight (70 +) most of it due to health issues and then of course some because of running and my family thinks I should stop running so that I can "gain weight". they dont get it. they dont get I feel better now. I started running at the ancient age of 41 so they think I am in a mid life crisis. Anyway sorry this is so long all this to say now I hide some of it and I am so grateful that I can share this part of my life with other people online who get it.

  11. People have always known I run, but I didn't share details like weekly mileage. I'm pretty small, so I didn't want people to think I have some sort of body image disorder.

    Now some of my coworkers and friends know about my blog. Some have even started running or working out because of it. Sometimes I will get an odd comment about how so-and-so can't run because of size or knees, but no one has said anything negative about running itself.

  12. Thanks for sharing your secret. I bet a lot of people in the running community can relate. I know I certainly can. When I began waking up early in college to either go to the gym or run or swim laps and made it apart of my daily life, roommates and friends would make comments like "you're so obsessive" or "do you have an eating disorder?". Neither, I just really liked the release of running and fitness. It was my hobby and my break from college life.

    Thanks for writing about this!

  13. I am a new runner, but have never kept it a secret. I know that I'm in that obsessed new runner state (it's so fun, I love it, it's changed my body, I feel fantastic, life is grand!), so I try not to talk about that part too much and not sounds like an annoying lunatic. That said, I've never done anything like the miles you do, & I'm actively trying to lose weight, so I don't really have any secrets.

    So happy you found a way to satisfy your love of running & maintain your weight & health!

  14. First of all, you're too generous with the shout out, but I'll take it. I love that I helped you. Now I've just got to get fast again so I can go on a run with you!

    Second of all- HURRAY! I knew you were a closest runner (what I call someone who is as obsessed as I am, but pretends not to be)! I am so happy that you are able to be you and talk about something that defines you.

    Thirdly, I know people who log more mile and are much crazier than you (and I'm related to some of them). So, don't be shy about your mileage or running habits. Running is both perfect for self therapy and group therapy- so take advantage.

    Finally, you're going to kill Eugene this weekend, so I wanted to wish you all the best. Enjoy yourself out on the course!

  15. I loved your post. I can't wait to stalk your results this upcoming weekend. Sometimes, it is really frustrating being a woman and a runner because people often tell me I should stop running because I am skinny and don't need to lose. Running has nothing to do with losing weight! It is about something I love and trying to get faster and faster. If just wanted to be skinny, I would be wearing makeup to the gym and putting in half an hour on the elliptical three times a week, not running 20 miles in a snowstorm!

    I feel better now. Haha.

    Good Luck!!!

  16. Wow, thank you for sharing your story. and in fact, I can relate. A LOT! Luckily I am married to an endurance athlete, so he puts me to shame. haha. But working on calories is the hardest part. But in order to run, we must eat, and eat WELL! Amen to that!

  17. Wow, what an amazing post. Had I seen you during those skinny years, I fear that I too may have jumped to conclusions about what was going on... And I feel horrible about that! Being a non-runner myself, I'm afraid that I can see how it would be easy for people who don't run to not understand it. I'm so glad you've found a community that gets it though, and that you're putting out posts like this that will help explain it to those of us who may not understand it otherwise.

    Love you KK!

  18. I kept running a secret for a long time for a few reasons, one no one seemed to understand why I ran for fun, it was if exercise (or running more than 15 mintues) was the strangest thing in the world. Also I had a little problem so obviously I couldn't go to the gym with my friends and stay there for hours and then let them know I was going runing right after they already thought I was nuts for working out so much.

    Now that I've registered for a marathon I feel comfortable telling people about my running (plus I live in a small village now and people see me running a lot so no hiding it) because I'm working towards a goal, a concept most peopel can understand.

    ~ H

    Thanks for this personal post. i have so many questions but they are probably none of my buisness so I'll keep them to myself!

  19. I'm so sorry that you felt the need to hide your running :/
    But yes, remember that so many of us are crazy and love running just as much as you! ;)
    I love this post. Thanks for sharing!

    My secret- not really a secret.. I'm recovering from anorexia & now bingeing now and again. And I'm doing well! All the while running 65 miles a week. I am so blessed. I have the support of you and so many others. Thank you. :) <3

  20. I've never thought of keeping running a secret. I'm pretty open about it and share it with my partner, but don't always talk mileage on social networks.

    By the way, I'm also a UCLA alum. I've run the perimeter once (never as an undergrad, I was much too lazy then) and am at the track once a week trying to get faster. I'm still on campus daily for work/grad school.

    Congrats on your huge PR at the Eugene Marathon. That's amazing.


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