why I run: then and now
I started running years ago as a part of the weight loss trifecta : running, weights, and calorie counting.
I ran to look better, to fit into smaller jeans, to be a different size. It worked. I lost four pant sizes my sophomore year of highschool. I ran because of the way I felt afterwards – strong, fit, and happy. I didn’t care about how fast I ran. I plugged my calories into a chart, with little regard to the quality of the food that I was eating – if it was under my daily limit for weight loss, then I considered it success.
At some point, I started to like the running part of running. Then I started to get better at running. After years and years of running for fun, I started to get faster. I will never be a competitive runner – but thanks to the beauty of chip timing I can tell you that right now I can run ten miles as fast as I was able to run my FASTEST MILE two years ago. I don’t really know how that happened. Years of running, I guess?
I love to run. I love to run so much that I treat my body differently so that it can run like I want it to. I want to fuel it well, so I make choices that will replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates. I plan sleeping, and drinking alcohol or coffee, and hydrating around my running schedule. I ice my legs, and stretch my muscles. I care for my body.
A year or so ago I had an accident that disfigured part of my body. Last October, I had surgery to reconstruct that area so that it would have more ‘normal contouring’. The surgery was not successful, and the recovery was long and uncomfortable. When my doctor told me that I would need to have more surgery in hopes of a positive result, I was devastated. I came home and cried to my husband because I couldn’t bear to spend more months of recovering and building back up to the fitness level that I was before. It took me so long to get here, I am enjoying it so much, and the idea of stopping it all just to correct a cosmetic issue didn’t seem worth it to me. (Uh, I am actually having the surgery. Tomorrow!).
I don’t really know what I hope to accomplish by telling you all of this. Still, tonight I was sitting in the bath tub, and I was thinking about how much less attractive I must be now than I was back when I was so carefully tracking the input and output of everything that went into my mouth like a bank ledger. I am ten pounds heavier, even though I run twenty to forty miles per week. My thighs are thicker now, as the muscles have grown and I am covered in scars from tripping over roots on trail runs. My stomach is soft and my skin is thin from years of stretching it out to grow three children. I have a c-section scar on my abdomen from the birth of my son and eight (EIGHT!) scars on my back from reconstructive surgery. I have stretch marks on my hips and thighs, and callouses that make all of my toes look squared, and one of toe nails doesn’t really grow quite right anymore after my marathon. Still, man, I love my body so much. It feels sort of awkward to say, and maybe even more awkward to see written there, but I just do. I love it so much more because of all these things it has given me, and all the things it can do.
I guess my point is just that when I started writing here I had this list of things I wanted to accomplish, and tonight I realized that, although I am still very much a work in progress, I am also sort of there. It doesn’t look quite like I thought it would, this illusive healthy/balanced place, but it feels damn good to be in it anyway.