“My weight was an obstacle.”
This sentence stuck with me as I turned the pages of my Runner’s World. How often had I mumbled, grumbled, and groaned out the same sentiment?
Years of dance classes gave me a pretty flexible body. Yet, as each year passed, a few more pounds snuck in around my stomach and thighs. Soon I found that the stretches that came so easily in the past were now a struggle. My body yearned to be fully stretched. But this barrier had built up between me and my toes. I leaned, I pushed. Nothing helped. Despite all of the feelings in my body and thoughts in my head, the barrier was real and it was in my fucking way.
Growing up with the same struggles as many girls my age, I was very insecure about my body from the moment I learned it was a large percentage of my personal value. So much seem to depend on this outward being. I tried all sorts of things to fit my body and appearance in to the box that society and my peers presented me with.
I never quite felt like I fit in that box. As an adult, I now suspect all my peers felt that way.
For years I took up sport after sport in hopes of finding The One. Considering myself an Academic of the Non-Athletic variety, I stopped trying team sports in high school. I kept off the weight using many of the usual teenage girl techniques (primarily working out at the gym which rather bored me).
Finally, I started to run. Running outdoors was the closest I ever came to finding that one sport I could call mine. I was never particularly good at it, but the rush from moving fast through the fresh air was incredible. Then, in college, my shins crapped out. I pushed myself harder, berating my body for giving up and being weak. I ran faster and more, often without enough nutritional support.
I followed the advice of strangers: push beyond the pain, they’ll go away. The advice of doctors: Stop running, then ease back into it slowly. The advice of fellow runners: ice your shins and stretch more.
The shin splints would go away every time I took time off from running. Easing back in was difficult. Each time I had gained a little more weight. Each time I would relish the short periods where shin splints seemed to no longer exist. Then they’d be back, a little at a time, until I was lying in tears on the dorm room floor after a mere mile.
I tried to get enthused with other sports – crew, kickboxing, yoga, softball, volleyball, roller derby, even working with a personal trainer. Nothing satisfied the way running did.
Today, I walked – the first day of my training for another 1/2 marathon. Last year I walked this one with my mom, but this May I am determined to run most, if not all of it. Doing so will require interval training, lots of mileage, and, above all else, patience.
The miles today were okay. The usual boredom set in at the start of the last mile. I’d finished my magazine and had only techno music to console me. It’s hard not to bop along to the beat as you. Soon I was dancing – full on, embarrassing 90’s pop moves mixed with a couple from my summer hip hop class. Suddenly the last mile felt harder but a million times more fun.
There was a time when my younger sister and I would walk the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon’s 5k simply for the chance to spend time together. We’d put in our earbuds and dance the whole route much to the amusement or our fellow walkers. This workout felt almost as fun as those times with my sister.
I don’t know that I’ll employ that method of ‘surviving the last mile’ when I get off the treadmill and hit the streets. But on those freezing days when my treadmill is my only friend… maybe those ridiculous moves will be enough to keep me going.
As for that obstacle… I’ve a new attitude, a set of rewards for hitting weightloss goals, and a new training program. I think this year will be my year.
“My weight was an obstacle.”