I’m really proud of myself as of late. There are a multitude of reasons, some of which are easy to explain and others which don’t really lend themselves to words that easily, but suffice it to say that I almost kind of like me right now. It’s a good thing to feel, that self-liking thing.
One of those reasons falls in line with the way I’m able to move and exercise and run since my back procedure. I feel more like me every time I get out there and run or have a good workout at the gym or
cuss at keep up with Jillian Michaels and her darn 30 Day Shred or hold a yoga pose that, just months ago, I wouldn’t have been even able to think about, let alone hit and hold. I feel amazing. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel like me.
And so, I’ve been talking about my return to physical health with people — friends, acquaintances and new people alike. Recently, I mentioned that I had been out for a run that morning and the sky had been beautiful. Someone whom I don’t know all that well — and now no longer care to — replied, “You run? Huh. I wouldn’t have known it. You don’t really have a runner’s body.”
On the one hand, I suppose I don’t have a runner’s body. I look nothing like the thin, svelte, lean-muscled females depicted in all of the running inspiration pins on Pinterest. I don’t. In fact, I created a board that specifically tries to keep the crazy thinspiration out that I see in so many of those pins — even though all of the photos of runners show, well, thin people. I’m not running to become the thinnest woman on the planet. I’m running to find my strength, my fitness, myself again. Yes, it’s nice that in doing so I have lost 21 pounds since January and 19 inches. That’s a bonus. But when I’m out there, feet thumping along the pavement of our neighborhood and its many, many hills, I feel like I can do anything, be anything, accomplish whatever I put my mind to despite my pants size or the measurement of my hips. So, no, I don’t have a “runner’s body,” if we’re comparing me to the Pinterest-pretty runners.
On the other hand, I sure as heck have a runner’s body. I have feet. I have strong legs that sometimes get tired while running but mostly move as I tell them to. I have hips that burn when I run up yet another hill, but carry those legs up the hill. I have a torso — and a functional back — that hold my neck straight, my head high, help move my arms as run. I have a mind that argues with me sometimes but often chooses the right thought process. “Yes, yes, rest of the body, it’s cold out but less than five minutes into this run all the parts will be warm and toasty and it will be fine. Now fingers, lace up those shoes and get out there.” Or even, “Well, yes, we could go the shortcut back to the house now, but you’re just feeling that way because you’re a bit tired since the kids were up and the dog is sick and life is never-ending. If you finish this run, you’ll feel better than you do at this particular moment. Keep going.” And sometimes even, “You know what, it’s the right decision to stop here today. Go ahead.” And so I do. I listen. I feel. I keep going and sometimes I stop. I have all of the parts necessary to have a “runner’s body.”
Of course, attitudes like this are what keep so many — including myself at various times over the years — from getting out and running or walking or whatever it is that their brain is trying to tell them would help them feel a little better. I am well aware that my neighbors must think I’m nuts, running to and fro in our neighborhood, especially those that live on our half block as I hit it about four times per two mile run. I feel uncomfortable running past teenagers, because I remember thinking and saying things about overweight people who “tried” to “run” without a “runner’s body” when I was young. You see, I had a runner’s body back in the day, before three children and a back injury and various health problems and fear of comments. And now, I don’t. But I still run.
All of these things ran through my head to say to this woman that day. I could have brought up my injury. I could have down-played it and said that I was just getting back into it after years off. I could have said, “Oh, well it’s only two miles at a time right now. Nothing big.” I could have been super snarky. I could have been downright mean. I could have said a million and one things. Instead I said, “Oh, well, thank you.”
I may never have a runner’s body. I may never be the size I was pre-kids. I may never run a half-marathon, and I certainly don’t imagine I’ll run a full marathon. I may never make it past three miles at a time. I may never look the way people think I should. I may never be honored as a Woman of the Year for my athletic pursuits. I’ll never be on the front of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. But I’m me. I feel like me. I look like me. And that’s pretty darn awesome, if you ask me.