Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I'm a Runner

The week after a marathon is always surreal. Your body isn't quite sure what to do with itself. It is simultaneously exhausted but energetic, fatigued and sore by dying to run.
The week has been spent letting my muscles recover, which means only walking, no running, eliptical-ing, zumba-ing, yoga-ing, and stretching daily (+ a trip to the hot tub. best.decision.ever). This downtime, on top of the recaps and responses to friends, family, professors have given me time to reflect on why I do this. Why run 26.2 miles? Why do I enjoy it so? What is this runners high? and more importantly, how the hell did I get to this place??

I know that I think clearest on my long runs. I know the beauty of self-reflection that comes during hours on the road. I'm the driver of a vehicle that sails along at a reasonable pace, allowing me to keenly observe the world around me while learning about my true self. 26.2 is a long ways, mentally and physically, and every time I do it, I feel like I can truly accomplish anything. Running clears my mind, soothes my soul and makes me feel ALIVE.

I'm reading
Once a Runner, and while it is a good read, i was never a runner. In highschool i was on the debate team. I never considered myself athletic. I danced seriously from age 3 to 14. Once that had to come to an end I took up 3 mi runs to get "in shape" for a month-long backpacking trip. I enjoyed waking up early to get a run in before school. I begin to see myself as fit, but even as my mileage increased I've always had a hard time identifying myself as a runner, that elite class of individual, who finds joy in mile repeats, hill workouts and waking up before the crack of dawn to get a long run in. I may not fit the body-type stereotype for a runner. I'm not willowy. My race photos are not graceful. But I'm persistent. I go out there and try my best. And that's what makes me an athlete. I may be 7 minutes away from qualifying for boston but I am still a runner.

This transition hasn't been the easiest one. I find myself wallowing in self-doubt and negative comparisons. "oh I don't want to run with her/him, I'll feel slow, and I don't want to drag them down." In the middle of the race I had to shove these thoughts away. Put them on a far away shelf and dig deep into the strength that I know I have. Because I have no "baseline", because I'm never searching for that "oh well, in 8th grade i had a 5 min/mi" I have to continuously surprise myself by what my body can do. The mind can not comprehend that what it has not yet experienced, and my 10 minute mile jogger self had no idea what it felt like to run 4 miles in 28 minutes. But now I know I can do that. I know that I can finish a sweltering marathon in 3:47 minutes, and not feel sore 4 days later. So what's next? I know qualifying for Boston is right within my grasp. I want to push my boundaries, I want to run faster I want to run further.

Change is a the only constant in life. What changes are you going through?

ps It's Fat Talk Free Week, and next Sunday is National Love your Body day. I would love for you to join me in some self love!


KC said...

We never know what we can do, until we really get out there and try. You tell a great story.

Lots of changes happening for me, but the most important is learning to embrace each moment, rather than always trying to look ahead.

Brent said...

Once A Runner is a good read. Great mary time. Keep up the good work!

Jess said...

Very awesome and thought-provoking. We're always comparing ourselves and putting ourselves down, when all the while there's so much to be proud of!!

@iRun2BeFit said...

I love everything about this post! I love the intro quote.. I can relate with the weird negative thoughts that try to bring you down, and shoving them off.. it's amazing being a runner!
I love your ipod case!! I need that!
Ooo la la, training to qualify for Boston is an amazing goal! I can't imagine ever qualifying. I say go for it!