I love running, but sometimes it doesn’t love me back. Sometimes it seems like we aren’t even friends. What starts off as a great time turns into what feels like a march to my death—so I quit… sort of.
During every marathon I’ve ever run, I’ve waved the white flag at some point. Despite my love for the sport, it’s surprisingly easy to tell myself I’m never running again—just as soon as I make it to one last finish line.
In fact, I never even have to look for a reason to quit. Every excuse I could ever need finds me. These are just a few of my reasons for retiring from running.
It hurts.1 of 7
Something hurts every time I race. Sometimes it's my knee. Sometimes it's my feet. Sometimes it's my pride. Inevitably something starts screaming at me to stop. And, yeah, I agree—I should stop. In fact, I should altogether quit.
I can't finish—or, at least, I don't think I can.2 of 7
There have been races I genuinely did not think I could continue. I've considered getting an Uber or ducking into a McDonald's and hiding on the bathroom floor, likely curled into the fetal position, pleading with fast food patrons to take my place just as soon as they finish washing their hands. Instead—due to inconvenient factors like the cleanliness of public restrooms and the embarrassment of begging (literally) out of the race—I keep going. But I always promise myself I'll quit tomorrow.
I hit a wall.3 of 7
The wall is supposedly a point in the race when a runner feels like the degree of difficulty has suddenly increased tremendously. In reality, it's much worse than that. Sometimes you don't even hit the wall—the wall jumps out from behind a corner and hits you with a sucker punch. As a result, I feel winded and nauseous and can't even walk—let alone run. In these moments, all I can think about is staying down for the count. You win wall. I quit.
Spectators tell me I'm almost there—but I am NOT "almost there."4 of 7
This would not be a big deal to a sane, well-rested person with stable blood sugar. But at mile 21 of a marathon I am none of these things. When I'm hanging on to the last shred of energy left in my legs, I am vulnerable, you see? Seemingly insignificant comments like, "You're almost there," when, in fact, I have five miles left, absolutely wreck my brain. Each time, I want to quit—or politely explain to the spectator that I have 45 minutes of running left, and I'm on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
I can feel my toenails planning to abandon ship.5 of 7
They are plotting against me. They are turning black and trying to jump off my toes right this second. I need to stop them. I need to stop running. Forever.
Things are getting ugly.6 of 7
I don't mean metaphorically—I mean I am full-on about to ugly cry. Of course, there's no crying in running; not because it's an official rule, but because you can't afford to lose the moisture from your body. I've felt overwhelmed and tired and frustrated and been on the brink of crying before I snapped out of it. I can't cry, but I can quit. I'm never doing this again.
Except that I do. I always do. See, my biggest issue is not that I so badly want to quit at some point during every race. The issue is that I have a terrible memory. Somehow all of these thoughts and desires to quit disappear as soon as I cross the finish line. Once I'm done and have a shiny new medal around my neck, it's all rainbows and butterflies and I'm so proud of myself.
I can't wait to do it again.