A Runner’s Mind

Historical context for this post :

I started running about 8 years ago, and as the author of a blog about running, it’s probably time I disclose the sometimes ugly truth about what got me started.  

Confession Time:

I started running because I wanted a runner’s body. I realize how screwed up that could seem, and that’s why its time I tackled this topic.

Years, miles, and marathons later, I’m not appreciably closer to this goal than when I started.  Funny, no? Ironic, maybe more so.

I started running with mental images of my lean, leggy future self being so happy and satisfied with her ability to remain unselfconscious in a bathing suit, or some nonsense like that.  When I think about it now, I’m all shades of shame for how much I didn’t get it.

That part would come later.

Sheepish though I may be about sharing this part of me, I can’t be too hard on myself about the initial motivation that got me out on the trails. The reality is, that if not for that, I might never have discovered what it was I really wanted out of it:  A runner’s mind.

It was so superficial, so fleeting this idea I had. That what I would get out of it would be physical.  My body has changed, true enough, but  now I understand this is a side effect (albeit a pleasant one).  My legs are stronger, my lungs have been reinvented by the process, but I have fewer illusions about my body and its incongruence with the air brushed images from Runner’s World.

The magazines have you forgetting how fucking beautiful you are.

  -Dave Chappelle

It took me a few years before I abandoned pursuit of this unattainable image- And when I did, it was not for reasons I could have imagined.  I gave it up not perhaps because it was unattainable.  I’m sure if I were as rigorous with my eating habits and my weight training as I am with other parts of my life, I could come very close.  I happily let it go because running changed everything about the relationship I had with my body, and my brain.  And I can’t thank it enough for that.

Running helped me appreciate the body I have, as it is now, how strong and capable it is.  It made me smile at the junk in my trunk and laugh over dimples of cellulite.  No longer from a place of scrutiny, I came to revere these bones and muscles that support me day in, and day out. I care for them and I’m proud of them, flaws and all.  Lets not assume running is a cure-all for an epidemic of self-image and esteem issues, but for me, in many ways it was.

Beyond acceptance, appreciation, and even the quick breath of humiliation,  I learned when to give up the chase for something trivial, and begin the race for something substantial.

More than the revolutionized perspective it gave me about my body, it gave, and continues to give me, a deep admiration for my brain and the things its capable of.

I did the right thing, for all the wrong reasons, but it turned out ok.

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