So I want to talk to you about your image. So maybe you have been running for years like me. Maybe you are just starting out and only run for a minute and then walk five minutes. Maybe you run 5K's with a friend or you are a competitive marathon runner, its not hard to pinpoint a runner. THEY RUN.
Let me give you a little background on myself. I have always been the "tall" girl. I was always the "tall" girl in the class. Sometimes I was the chubby girl, sometimes I was the skinny girl, sometimes I was the pregnant woman, sometimes I was the mom or the sister, or daughter. I am 42 years old and so I have had a lot of different looks and LORD, a lot of stupid hairstyles.... I grew up in the era of Whitesnake, AC/DC, Kiss, Cinderella... you get the point. Anyway, in 2006 I decided to lose weight and walked on the treadmill. I walked slow and I read a book. I did this daily. I didn't lose weight. One day I was in a hotel fitness room and the guy next to me... (who I would have thought looked like a middle aged guy who had business meetings, went home ate his supper and watched television the rest of the night) came in and got on the treadmill next to me. I felt good doing my walk. Before I knew it, the guy next to me, who wasn't a muscular powerhouse, just a regular guy started to pound out miles on his treadmill. He ran with a nice pace and enjoyed it. He got in more miles than me and left happy. I tried not to stare out of the corner of my eye, but I did. To be honest, I was damn jealous. How did he do that? He didn't look like a runner? If he looked like a runner, my 30 lb overweight frame could be too..... That's it. I am going to run. After that, I spent a year doing run/walk routines and ended up losing 60 lbs! I did some 5k's and loved every minute of it! Then, I got bored, caught up in my kids, school work (as I was going back for my doctorate while working full-time)... I let myself go and I stopped running. I actually thought I wouldn't get back into it, but I did. I haven't lost 60 lbs again... BUT, I run a lot farther than I used to. A "small" run for me is 5 miles... I generally do around 40-60 miles a week. I am not super thin. I am the tall girl that runs.
So where am I going with this? Over the past few years I have felt sooo great. I love running so much! I love the feeling it gives me. I feel powerful, I feel happy, I feel refreshed, its the best antidepressant I have found. I seriously look at myself in the mirror regularly (even though I am overweight per the BMI chart...) and think I look good and I am happy. But recently I felt that feeling waiver. That feeling I had almost changed because of a few simple and INNOCENT words.
Thinking back over your life, I bet you can think of random things people have said to you that at the time... just seemed like plain words, probably not important, but how many years later, you can still remember them for some reason? Why does that statement, or those words stick in our head? I can remember a girl saying to me on the first day of Kindergarten, "Look, I can cross my fingers, I am going to do great!" I can remember my dad telling me once: "Stay out of the refrigerator, you are going to get frostbit" (which mind you, led me down a spiraling path and period of unhealthy eating my 8th grade year.)
Sometimes we remember silly things and sometimes we hear things that at the time we do not think are significant... but somehow they creep in. Not too long ago, I had two such incidents in one month occur. The first incident I had was someone looked me over and said to me, "you are a runner? you sure don't look like a runner?" I really laughed it off, because if you are thinking of the guy from Kenya who trains daily for marathons, "NOPE, I am not much like him." A few weeks later, I had a close friend tell me in a store that "NO, I couldn't get the size large leggings, I had to get the extra large." There was NO WAY I could fit into the large. (Even though I had worn large for years..... once again, I thought that was silly and blew it off. BUT a week later... I noticed my runs were tough, my legs felt tired, my mood was grouchy. What was wrong with me? I will tell you.... I let the words slip into my brain and eat away. They slipped in under my radar and started to eat away. EVEN though I had been feeling great for years, running ultra-marathon distances on a regular basis, all of a sudden a few statements that were not meant to hurt me, actually started to hurt me. This made me really think how strong words can be. As a runner, I LOVE fellow runners. I am someone who never got the "don't call me a jogger" joke. Why not? Sometimes I am a slow jogger? I have seen people run/walk, I have seen some people sprint like a deer. All I know, is when I know someone runs, in any form, I want to talk to them. I want to talk about our commonality. I want to know what drives their run, what fuels their run and how they know when its time for a break.
So here is what I am getting at..... I believe in my heart and soul that I am a runner. Why? Because I LIVE for it. I love it. I breathe it. Not because I run a certain race or pace... because its part of who I am. I also feel healthy. I feel healthier than I have been for years. I think its a strong mental well-being that I have acquired. Running has saved me from something... I am not sure what that something is yet, I will have to get back to you.. but its there somewhere. DON'T let someone's words determine your mood or your well-being. If you run, even just a little... you are a runner. Be proud. We all run our own pace and place. We all don't look like the model showing off the new spring running capris and bras from the fabulous bra and undie store. Nope, we don't. We all don't look like Meb either. Nope, not today. Be your own runner. Be Jill or Dan or Steph or Alayna... just be yourself and run proud. 💚💚💚💚 That's what I am going to do today, and tomorrow and the next day.