Friday, 7 June 2013

I accept that I’m a runner, and any other label I am given

I remember 2 years ago walking into a Lululemon store and looking at their running section. I had just started working out – this was at the beginning of my weight loss journey and joining BDHQ.  I was with another girl who had just started working out at BDHQ too. An employee approached us and asked, “Are you runners?” At the exact same time she replied “yes” and I said “no.”  I remember thinking, “I am not a runner…yet. I admire those that are, but I’ve just started, I still don’t look like someone who does any form of exercise at this point, and I don’t deserve that title.”  I felt like if I said yes to that question I opened myself up to being judged based on my physical appearance. I created in my head an image of someone who was leaner, faster, and more hard core than I was, whatever that means. Today, that just sounds so totally dumb when I write these words.  I think back to 2 years ago and realize it was safer and easier to be self-deprecating and think, “Oh god, I need to be so much thinner before I go about telling people I’m a runner.”  The truth is, I saw myself as this overweight inactive person and equated that with a feeling of inferiority.  It had nothing to do with running but that’s where the conflict with perceived self-image and reality first came up for me.
I forgot about this incident until this week when at baby bootcamp class we had to run a steep hill which is about 5 or 6 blocks long pushing babies in strollers. I finally ran the entire hill pushing Alex; this only took 5 months of classes to get it done!!  As I was relishing my small victory, one of the other girls reached the top of the hill and asked me, “How long have you been a runner?” I looked at her and was about to say, “Oh, I’m not a runner,” but stopped myself. What am I thinking? Hells yeah, I am a runner!  I just ran over 60K last week, including my second half marathon (which, by the way, I completed in 2 hours 7 minutes, which is 2 minutes faster than my first). I have about 4 running injuries including a stress fracture in my foot from pounding pavement.  I even have a hat and socks that I only use for running long distances.  But, you know, it’s not the gear I own, or the distance I travel each week on foot, how many races I enter, or how fast my pace is that puts a tick in the “I’m a bona fide runner” box in my life.  It’s really about my attitude towards myself and whether I allow myself to be ok with how I look.  Never mind if I deserve any kind of title; there is no such thing as “deserve”.  It just is what it is.  I like running, I look the way I look, and if you want to label that or not it doesn’t matter.  I don’t have a problem being called a “professional” at work or a “good mom” at home, so why should I beat myself up over this area of my life?
I know there are a lot of people out there who think running sucks.  My answer is yes, yes it does.  It feels uncomfortable for the first 20 minutes or even the first 5K for everyone. It’s easy to get injured if you don’t stretch or run properly. But I promise you it gets awesome once you push through that.  Out of curiosity I read a Harvard University health article today to see how running shapes up to some other activities I’ve done in the last year. In half an hour, a 150 pound person burns 150 calories doing yoga, 170 walking at a 4 mph pace, 225 swimming, and 370 running at a 6 mph pace. One pound = 3500 calories.  It just makes sense to me that running is the best use of your limited time for exercise in a day and it’s the best form of exercise to drop weight efficiently.
I’ve got my name down for a run clinic starting in a couple weeks, I entered the registration lottery for San Francisco’s Nike Women’s Half Marathon in October, and I have plans to run another half marathon this fall in Victoria.  One of the best things that’s happened to me since I started running long distances was proving to myself that I can do something I never thought I was capable of physically doing. My mindset around running for 2 hours or more and 20K or more at a time is now, “yup, it’s totally doable, and even a little fun.” So onwards and upwards for me and running. 

At the Goddess Run in Victoria, smiling because we just passed the 20K marker

Meeting up with friends after the race. These two sisters are so inspiring...I think this was their 14th half marathon and they  finish 10-30 minutes faster than me! 
My training and race day partner, and fellow momma of a 7 month old. We pushed our babies 14K  on some days to train for this half marathon. Well done my friend!!

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