Movement lately: my breakup with running

First off, I wanted to thank you all so much from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support I received from my last post. It filled my heart with so much joy. Thank you guys for reading my blog. There are days the devil tries to tell me that no one reads this but I know that God has called me to write in this space.

I was inspired to write this post by a recent post from The Real Life RD on movement. I had been thinking a lot about movement before reading this post. Movement has changed so much for me in the past couple of years. From under fueling for half marathons to running joyfully to not running at all. A couple of years ago there wasn’t a weekend I was not running a race. Flash forward to my dietetic internship where I learned about juggling a 9-5 job and completing my masters degree, running races took a backseat with everything else I had going on. I ran the Marshall half marathon that fall when I still had time to train before the internship got very busy. After that instead of being enjoyable, running became stressful and felt like it was something I had to get done to mark off my check list for the day. Thankfully during my internship I found yoga and barre which were both truly enjoyable for me. Yoga really helped me to connect to my breathe. Breathing is so powerful to combat stress. There’s been a ton of research to prove that. Being connected to God and remembering to breathe because God’s got this has truly helped me to combat so much stress and anxiety in my life.

After less than a year of working in the “real world” as a dietitian juggling three jobs, I thought I had a handle on things and could manage training for another race. I had ran the Charleston distance run twice before. The race was in September. One day I was training in August and felt a pop in my left knee. I took a break for two weeks icing and elevating it and tried to get back out there when the same thing happened again. I remember being so upset and frustrated. I remember praying “God I’ve been running for the past six years why am I having an injury right before  race now?” I truly felt like my body was failing me. Running had been my identity for so long. Was I going to have to give that up? I opted out of the race because I knew I would just hurt myself even more. My friend who is an athletic trainer thought it was issues with my IT band but because of insurance issues I ended up not getting an orthopedic doctor for a couple months. I ended up being diagnosed with petallofemoral syndrome and started physical therapy at Dynamic Physical Therapy in December. During those couple of months I tried to still do yoga but sometimes the pain was just so bad that I ended up opting out of exercise for about two months. It was hard. I talk a little bit about this in this blog. While it was hard at the time, now reflecting on it I am so grateful for the break with exercise. It’s helped me to become a better provider for my patients with eating disorders/disordered eating. For someone with am eating disorder they may have to go on a break with exercise too so that there body can become properly nourished before they start moving again. Also we want to make sure they are enjoying the movement and not the eating disorder. Is this movement being done to change their body shape?

It also helped me realize that running was no longer enjoyable for me at this point in my life. I found myself again stressing to get runs in before I went into work. It helped me realize the way we move our bodies should be changing throughout our  lives. It’s normal. The way we eat changes throughout our lives too. During college I lived 10 minutes away from a park to run at. I would also run from my apartment to downtown Huntington. After college moving back in with my family to save money on rent, the closest park for me is now 40 minutes from my house. I also lived 10 minutes from the Marshall rec center. I now live 40 minutes from IFITT24, the gym I work at. Life is different and that’s okay. Movement and nutrition are going to be vastly different throughout your whole life. Movement doesn’t have to be going to a gym. Movement can be doing some stretches at home. It can be cleaning the house. It can be walking your dog. It can be doing yoga. It can be doing yard work with your dad. I think sometimes we become preoccupied with what health actually means. As a society we are so stressed out about reaching our fitness and nutrition goals.  Should health be at the expense of your health? Definitely not. Often times less is actually more. There has been a ton of research to show that reducing stress responses that are unnecessary and unhelpful can lead to reduced cortisol. Increased cortisol can lead to increased inflammation, high blood pressure, and many other health problems. A friend of mine just recently took a yoga workshop on this as well and it’s so interesting. Definitely aligns with intuitive eating and HAES research.

A lot of the time my patients and clients are shocked to find out that the American Heart Association only recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. An easy way to remember it is 30 minutes five days per week. Am I an expert in exercise? Nope, I’m not. As dietitians we are trained to give only general exercise recommendations. Movement should be enjoyable though and not feel like it is a chore. Everyone is different. Not everyone is going to enjoy the same type of movement.

I still remember my physical therapist at Dynamic asking me if I was going to start running again. I said no. I don’t know that I will ever run long distances again and that’s okay. Physical therapy really helped me connect to my body and realize what actually felt good to it and what didn’t. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my team at Dynamic. I wake up every day with no pain in my knee. God healed my knee but God also gave me an amazing team to work with. I felt like I lived there for three months but it was so worth it.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a variety of different types of movement.





I love yoga and all forms of it! Aerial is so much fun. I also love yin yoga and getting into those deep stretches!

Strength training


Ever since being discharged my physical therapy, my coworker and friend Matt Carte who is a trainer at the gym I work at has been helping me transition from PT to working out again. Not to say that PT didn’t have me sweating and was not challenging for me. They had me do sled pushes there! I was kind of intimidated to get back into the gym again because I was afraid I would hurt my knee again. Matt has really helped me face that fear and transition into movement that feels good to my body and is making me feel stronger.



Have you ever tried pilates before? I took my first class when I visited my fiance Matt in Oklahoma at his university’s rec center. I loved how it was similar to yoga but had more of a strengthening aspect to it as well. I am looking forward to taking more pilates classes now that I am back in West Virginia.

We both really enjoyed it!


What movement have you been enjoying lately? I would love to hear about it.



Dustin Harper