Wednesday, December 21, 2011
NaBloPoMo Round 2, Day 21:Born (Not) to Run?
I have had a dysfunctional relationship with running for most of those years. Running has gotten wrapped up in my quest for thinness, beauty, and unconditional acceptance and has suffered as a result. I have always, in some way, bought in to the idea that if I could just train enough and in the right way, I would be effortlessly thin. This has led to some very bad behaviors. Sometimes I have overtrained to the point of being sick. Other times, I have refused to lace up my shoes because I wouldn't be fast enough or good enough.
The other day my physical therapist said that he wasn't sure I would ever be able to run without injury, that maybe I should consider other activities. He knows that running means a lot to me but also thinks that I'm causing problems for myself by continuing to run. I was dressed to run that day, but went to the park and walked instead, trying to consider what a life without running would mean to me.
The first thing, of course, is that I whipped myself into a frenzy of fear. I am already heavier than I want to be and I have the deep fear that if I don't run, I will gain more weight and end up back in the 200s. This is a very unhappy story, but logically I know that it doesn't have to be true. Every reputable source seems to indicate that dietary management is the key to weight management, not activity. Even if I need to burn calories, there are a lot of other things I can do: Spinning classes, swimming, weight lifting, hiking, yoga, incline walking, sports.
It takes a while to get past that huge fear and consider the loss of the activity itself. The way that I can lace up my shoes and go to the park to meditate on my feet, to outrun anxiety, to just enjoy watching the scenery change with the seasons. I know I could walk instead, but it isn't the same.
I would also lose part of my identity, the part that is a runner and a triathlete. I have never been a superstar at either of these activities. I came to them both late in life and at first, was just happy to be able to participate. I still have that part of me that is surprised and delighted to be an athlete of any sort. I'm not quite ready to give that up. Even when my races are disappointing, as they have been lately, they still mean a lot to me. I have a t-shirt that declares "I run therefore I am." I bought it as sort of a joke, because I thought it was an arrogant, annoying sentiment, but a part of me believes that it is true. The times I have not been able to run have been unhappy times for me. It's especially hard because my husband is a runner, and we would lose something we have in common.
I am still hoping that the physical therapist is wrong, that I can find a way to run again. Maybe it's the excess weight that is causing the injury, and not so much the running, and if I could find a way to lose it, I could get back to running. Maybe I need to run differently, or wear different shoes, or inserts, or something. I have an appointment with a podiatrist today and I am still hoping she will have some good news.
If the worst happens and I can't run, I have to find a way to make a non-running life work. Lots of people do it.
I just don't want to be one of them.
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07