In 2017, at the height of her elite running career and with a marathon time of 2:36, Tina Muir decided to leave the sport to rest, reset, and have children. Now, the mother of two and host of the podcast Running for Real, Muir is dedicated to finding ways to bring sports and social justice together.
In 2016, I achieved my ultimate goal of representing Great Britain in a World Championship; five weeks later, I ran a personal best at the London marathon. But after fulfilling these dreams, I noticed that my momentum and motivation had slowed. As an athlete – or really as anyone who commits to something – you want to always give your best. Today, we’re told to practice self-care and compassion, but during the years of my elite running career, the message was to dig deeper, put your head down, and grit your teeth.
But nothing was getting me going anymore. I had this sense of, “Wow, is that it? Now what?” I felt lost about what the future held for me. I set out to do a race in Australia along the Gold Coast thinking maybe I needed another goal, but that didn’t help. Then, I signed up to pace the elite group at the London marathon, but that didn’t do it either. My inner narrative became very negative. It was like I was crying on the inside. My heart was telling me it was time for a change, but I hated the idea that people might think I wasn’t mentally tough enough to handle elite running.
Then, my sister had a baby, and I saw this other life purpose that seemed so much more meaningful than just train, race, rest. I always knew I wanted kids, but I also knew that I’d need to have my period to make that happen. The last time I got my period was nine years earlier, when I was 19. My doctors said this was due to my running, so I just wrote it off each month as something I didn’t have to worry about.
By the time I was 25 years old and engaged, I started to become very aware that society expects a certain timeline: people get married, then have kids. My husband is also eight years older than me, so I thought it was probably time to move in that direction. I started to dig around to figure out how I could fix the problem with my period. I went to see an endocrinologist and spoke with a nutritional consultant, who suggested adding more fats and proteins into my diet. I started to make all these tweaks and changes hoping that one of them would work and I could avoid stepping back from running. But nothing happened. Then the disenchantment came, so it was almost this perfect storm of things that pushed me to quit the sport when I was 29.