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Thoughts on Running

April 18, 2009

After our discussion yesterday about exercise, I’m starting to revisit my own relationship with the topic, particularly my relationship with running.  I’ve started getting back into running again after a pretty long hiatus.  It has been the source of a lot of emotions in my life, which is why I can’t fully decide whether starting again is a good idea or a bad one.

I started running my freshman year of high school.  Back then, it was definitely a positive body choice because up until that time I had been taking ballet.  Ballet was terrible for the way I viewed my body.  I can still remember the teacher telling me to consider working my legs with machines so I could “be a better dancer.”  Fed up with the comments, I was ready for a change.  Since I was in no way coordinated or familiar with the rules of any of the other fall sports, the cross country team seemed like my only option.  I remember being scared of having to run so many miles.  I anticipated all of the pain I would have to go through to get myself into shape and just cried and cried before that first day of practice.

The first day was not as scary as I thought it would be.  Was I slow?  Absolutely.  Was I out of shape?  Absolutely.  But I found that I wasn’t alone and that there were others like me who just needed their darn sports credits.  We developed a sense of solidarity.  Even the faster runners never judged us for being slow.  They were just happy we were out there running and trying.  I discovered that I loved the runner’s high and the feeling of a really good workout.  Also, our coach was amazing.  He was so supportive and really led the others in the spirit of “Hey.  We’re out here to get in shape and have a good time, and it’s not about winning.”  I finished last in quite a few cross country races, so that was a great attitude for me.

What ruined running for me was how other people reacted to my body once I started.  I dropped a ton of weight.  People noticed.  They told me I looked great.  Once the compliments began, all I could think about was how I needed to keep off the weight because if I didn’t I would go back to being the fat kid.  Not that I was ever hugely fat.  It just felt that way with all of the attention I got when I was suddenly “skinny.”  The fear of becoming fat again made me paranoid.  When I started cross country I ate pretty much whatever I wanted.  I distinctly remember going through an Annie’s mac and cheese phase where I would eat a box a day.  I ate what I craved.  But once the fear of fat set in, I started controlling what I ate.  I ran every day once the season was over not because I wanted to but because I felt like I had to in order to keep getting noticed.  I ended up breaking down right before spring track started and told my mom I wanted to play softball instead.

I played softball and it was fun but I felt guilty the whole time.  I put on weight.  I hated myself.  I started running again.  I lost some weight.  But it was never the same.  For the most part I kept running.  Freshman year of college, I was running 4 miles a day 6 days a week.  I was not doing it for me.

At some point, I stopped running and started walking.  That was good.  It helped me slow down and think about what I was really doing to my body.  But now that spring is upon us, I find myself craving the wind in my hair and my feet pounding on the pavement.  The runs I have been on have been lovely.  I want to keep going, but knowing what running has the ability to do to me, so I’m a little scared.  Right now I think I can do it as long as I’m careful.  Staying grounded isn’t easy but how can I deny myself the sensations of running that I love because of my own fear?  I won’t do that.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lotus permalink
    April 20, 2009 2:59 PM

    Running is a wonderful passtime. I’m not sure I have much else to add, but you should try to rediscover your positive reasons for doing it.

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