When I was in college and during my twenties, I was a runner. I ran almost every day—participating in multiple races and even training for and successfully completing a marathon. At the time, I self-identified as a runner, and others often referred to me this way. Friends would ask for my opinion about things like the best sneakers and good training routes.
My twenties turned into my thirties, and time once spent running a 10K road race was replaced by different day-to-day priorities, like keeping up with my three young children. Without much conscious thought, I eliminated “runner” from my self-definition, since it was no longer a part of my daily life. When I did make it out for the occasional run, I would say to others that I was, at one time, a runner.
Until last year.
As I stared down my 40th birthday, I decided to prioritize running again, and I committed to getting out once a week. I quickly reconnected with my love for time alone with my thoughts—and certainly appreciated it more than I ever did in my twenties.
I began to question why I abandoned “runner” as a part of my personal story. So I consciously gave myself permission to reclaim it, even though it looks different now than it did when I was 23. I have discovered that I’m not alone.
Take a Moment to Remember What You Enjoy
Working women have a tendency to become so absorbed in the chaos of daily routines—focusing on what we think we should be doing, and not pausing to notice the parts of our work that we enjoy the most.
I’ve heard many women leaders dismissively categorize their love for writing or research or connecting with people or (fill in the blank) as something that’s not integral to their role. I wonder—why can’t it be? And more importantly, what would the impact be if it was a part of your role?
Yes, circumstances change, and we continue to evolve over the course of our lifetime. This doesn’t mean that we should abandon what’s core to who we are and what we’re passionate about. It’s up to each of us to create the space that we need to think about this.
Make an effort to hit pause and give conscious thought to the things you’ve eliminated or dismissed. Ask yourself:
- What is one activity or area of interest that I’ve lost touch with?
- What would today’s “2.0 version” of this look like for me?
- What is one thing that I can do in the next two weeks to get one step closer to making this a reality?
- How would this help others connect and understand who I am and the value I bring?
Bring Back the Present Tense
If you are missing something meaningful, revive it. Allow yourself to reclaim it—perhaps in a new package that’s compatible with your present life demands and job priorities. Commit to reconnecting with it and claim it with pride and without apology—you just might find yourself a bit more joyful and fulfilled.
I am a runner. Share with me who you are.