Long Way Home

This fall, a ton of us in the blogging industry got sucker punched in the gut with a Google algorithm update. These updates happen often, multiple times per year, so the update in and of itself was not a surprise. What was a surprise was how the update massively – and negatively – affected the blog traffic of so many content creators. Those who had long since ranked on the first few spots of a google search (for those not in the industry – this is a coveted spot to be in) suddenly disappeared, only to be replaced with large corporations and posts with low quality content. It made little sense, and has left so many of us scratching our heads.

But it also left many of us – myself included – realizing the importance of diversifying both traffic and income sources. Personally, search traffic had been my number one referral source by a landslide, so much so that I considered everything else to simply be a bonus. I gave up sponsored posts, and stopped caring so much about social media, all while enjoying the fruits of passive advertising income. But when the update happened, and my stats crashed (my top two posts plummeting from atop the Google podium)…so did my income. So after a few days of utterly freaking out and trying to explain it away, I realized I had zero control over what had happened. Instead, I could only reevaluate my approach for the future, and ensure that I didn’t keep “all of my eggs” in one proverbial basket from here on out.

Today, I realized I should apply that philosophy to the rest of my life.

It’s no secret that I’m passionate about running. Some would say obsessed, and I wouldn’t argue. It is more than a hobby, it is my life. It has consumed almost every ounce of my being for the last decade. It is my career. It’s my husband’s career. It’s what we do in our spare time when we aren’t working. It’s what our friends do. It’s not everything – but it’s pretty close.

In 2017, I had my second hernia surgery, and it left me emotionally in a really unfortunate place. I essentially couldn’t keep my shit together because I couldn’t run. It didn’t help that at the time, I was working in a running store where people would come in every single day and talk to me about their running. I really struggled with feeling any sense of self worth when I couldn’t run.

Which in retrospect, is an utter shame.

Fast forward two and a half years. While running still is – and always will be – my passion, I’ve also found joy in learning to move my body and test my limits in other ways. I’ve slowly eased from being fearful – to tolerating – to almost enjoying (I said almost!) my mountain bike. The same goes for yoga. And I’ve always really enjoyed strength training, but over the last years have made it a five day a week regular activity. None of those things have ever been a priority, but they are slowly becoming a part of my life.

As I mentioned on the other blog (look at me and my split personalities) my body is currently putting up a fight with an unexpected prolapse, and I’m sidelined from running until further notice. Which honestly, should be the least of my worries right now, but when I have ever been logical about anything?

Instead, it is a huge worry. I’m mad. No, scratch that – I’m pissed. Pissed at my body for failing me. Again. Pissed at the health care system for being so freaking hard to navigate. And I’m scared, honestly. Scared as to what sort of battle I suddenly have ahead of me, both from a physical and logistical point of view. Advocating for your health, when a situation arises that isn’t life threatening, but is threatening to your way of life (and you don’t have unlimited funds to throw around to make things happen) is often an uphill battle. Our system is broken, but that is an argument for another day.

In short, I’m sort of overwhelmed with a million questions that leave me feeling like my life, as I know it, is perhaps starting to crumble around me.

Does it feel that your life’s become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be

For you to grow, boy…

I’m learning – through trial and oh, so much error – that when shit hits the fan, it usually means there is something much bigger to be taken from the situation. A struggle to overcome. A lesson to be learned. And eventually, clarity to be found.

Though I’m quite hopeful that my running career is simply on hiatus, and not over, despite a ton of negative feedback in a recently joined support group (that name is a total misnomer, turns out it’s more of a “let me tell you all about the horrible things that happened to me, and probably will to you too, you better kiss running goodbye” group. Oye. ) it has certainly made me stop and think about my running “career” if you will, thus far. And while it would absolutely break my heart and take some serious soul searching if my running days were over…

…I’ve still accomplished some really incredible things. Things that Heather from a decade ago would have never dreamed of. From both finish lines to incredible experiences, trips, and opportunities that my involvement with the running community has brought me. Those things will never be taken away from me.

I guess my point is: right now, in this moment, running is gone until further notice , and I’m realizing I need the ever elusive backup plan. Because putting your whole EVERYTHING into one thing is amazing, and satisfying, and terribly risky, but in the best way possible. Until one day that “thing” is gone, or isn’t what it used to be, and then what?

To put a more positive spin on this: I truly believe there are so many amazing things that make up who we are. Idiosyncrasies, habits, quirks, passions, dislikes, peculiarities, that all blend together in different quantities to truly define who we are as an individual.

We are not one dimensional. None of us.

This is essentially what I already wrote about, in the very first post on this blog, 2.5 months ago. But I suppose sometimes it takes something more to really drive your point home…for yourself. (Man, I’m stubborn).

My passion for trail running has revealed is how much I love being in nature. This is something that has been ingrained in my being since I was a little girl. But I don’t think I’ve really consciously acknowledged how important being outside is for me, until recently. Trail running, specifically, ultra running, has put me in so many scenarios where I’m in the middle of nowhere, practically alone, with nothing but my thoughts and mother nature’s amazing beauty. And in those moments, I’ve felt nothing but gratitude – both for my surroundings, and the ability to recognize how happy these surroundings make me. So many people walk through life with their head down or their mind distracted, and fail to even see these sights, never mind truly appreciate them.

More and more I have begun to run simply to be outdoors. And it’s pretty cool to realize that while I love running through nature more than words can describe (trust me, I’ve been trying for over a decade now) – I can do other things out there too. Bike, kayak, camp, hike – the possibilities are endless.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be back to running – eventually. I know it. I’m positive that even though my body has temporarily failed me, this is not beyond fixing. I know how to put up one hell of a fight.

But also: maybe this is the universe’s way of reminding me that there is so much more to ME than just running. And maybe it’s time to explore those things a little more.

Maybe it’s time to diversify.

About Heather

Hi. I'm Heather. Exercise physiologist by day, adventure seeker...also by day, and sometimes night. I like: mountains, running long distances, rabbits, sleeping in tents, poking at campfires with a stick, and Gordon Lightfoot. I dislike: peanut butter, bent tent poles, sitting still for too long, and writing "about me" sections.