Thursday, February 7, 2013

Running is like Brussel Sprouts

I started running for all the wrong reasons. I’m not proud of it, because it reveals some of the many flaws in my character. I do not, however, regret running. Not once can I recall a workout I regret doing.

I used to run before class in high school. Technically that’s when I started running. I would either run several miles in my neighborhood or be waiting outside the  local YMCA to fight the grandmas and grandpas for a treadmill. I ran then because I thought I was fat, or something ridiculous. Again, I was in high school.
Me in high school, not being fat.
A few years later, I vividly remember where I was and whom I was with, when someone in my life said to me, “You have big legs. Naturally, like, they’re just always going to be big.” Well, challenge accepted. Unfortunately, I had fallen for all the Victoria’s Secret commercials and thought that to be attractive was to be skinny, and “naturally big legs” did not have the same ring to it as skinny. I have since learned healthy and skinny don’t have the same ring either, but I’m much older and wiser now that I am 23 and a half.

So, I decided that runners have good legs, and I, in all my stubbornness and pride, will train for a half marathon and get “good legs,” too. Running wasn’t natural for me (unlike the natural bigness of my legs). I could enjoy it at times, but when your motivation is only coming from spite and a longing for approval, there’s not much satisfaction in waiting for a compliment that never comes. But I did it. I trained and ran my first half marathon at the St. Jude race in 2009. I do remember feeling proud of myself, but I learned many very important lessons as I trained.  For one, I was introduced to the incredibly knowledgeable and supportive Memphis running community. I also learned about how what you eat affects your ability to run well. I learned about health in real, applicable ways. I also realized I am the one in control of my body. I have the power to change it, shape it, tone it, or loose it, depending on how I see myself.

After that first race, of which I am very grateful to have experienced, running had become a habit. I can’t say I magically matured into the self-confident, independent, strong, determined woman I am still becoming, but I knew I had to keep going outside to log some miles. I had to keep running, because it made me feel good. There is satisfaction in knowing you are taking care of your body, and that’s ok. You don’t’ always have to run because it’s totally your most favorite thing ever.  Running to me is often like brussel sprouts. No one eats those because they want to, but the benefit always outweighs the sacrifice. Always. (Except, I’m learning from my fiancĂ© not to say always, so 99.9% of the time).

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