I've had a very fragile relationship with running for the last three months. It mostly all boils down to a really fragile relationship with myself, I suppose.
Thanksgiving. That's exactly when it started. I remember. I came home that night -- after an amazing day of eating and laughter with a friend's family -- feeling more stuffed than I've ever felt. Just uncomfortable. That started the downward spiral of stepping on the scale every day and stepping off angry.
A few weeks later, I moved home with my parents for a month before venturing to Bend. Adding two hours of commuting to my weekdays all but killed by running mojo. Couple that with the holidays and the stress of packing up and moving 2,000 miles away, and basically my body became a wasteland.
I felt like shit. I looked like shit. My running was shit. I became shit.
Then I moved to Bend.
My first couple weeks here were ugly. Literally. The dry air wreaked havoc on my skin. I was bloated. I was tired as hell. I spent a week eating junk before fully settling into routine. Running was a struggle -- the elevation, the trails, the sluggishness. I became so wildly outside of my comfort zone, and here I sit.
I FEEL SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Everything feels a little more snug than it used to. My running is significantly less strong. My quick paces don't hold. My shorts feel uncomfortable. Where my arms used to feel toned, they now just... are there.
I literally could not feel more vain or self-absorbed right now. I never used to be the person who fretted so heavily over this shit. I was in the best shape of my life before the Boston Marathon last year. I see it in photos. Then I scroll back to photos that are a few years older, a few pounds fluffier, and I see me... NOW.
I hate it.
Mostly I hate it because it all started last summer after I took part in a clean-eating cleanse challenge. As much as it helped me clean up my eating habits and have a better understanding of what my body needs to feel good, it destroyed my mind. DESTROYED.
That is when I started paying attention to the scale. That is when I started noticing the changes in my body -- both good and bad. When the changes were bad, welp, it must have been that pizza, huh? I probably shouldn't eat that white bread. I could eat that ice cream, but I'll get bloated, the scale will be heavier tomorrow, and I'll regret it.
All the good the challenge did was reversed as soon as I started to slide. As soon as the scale crept back up. As soon as I stopped eating perfectly well-balanced meals. As soon as my abs began looking a lot less defined.
It's not that I don't want to eat perfectly well-balanced meals. I felt good. It was good for me. But I get mad at myself when I slip. I fall hard off the wagon, care more than I should, continue to stalk the numbers on the scale, watch my body morph into whatever it's becoming, and feel it all come together when I try to run.
It all materializes for me every time I put on my running shoes.
Would I feel better if I hadn't taken such poor care of myself the last three months? If I hadn't eaten so much on Thanksgiving? If I didn't spend the entire fall as a giant ball of stress? If I'd kept up with healthy habits and cross training? If if if if if if if if if if.
Every time I struggle during a run, I wonder, what if I never feel good about my body again?
But then I think, what if I just shut the hell up and be kinder to myself?
In the last six months, I said goodbye to a home, to my normal life, to my friends, to my family, to routine, to comfort, to normal. I threw all my normal into the breeze and let it scatter around so I could pick it all up and craft a new normal. An exciting normal. Brand new, happy normals.
I guess I can't expect for my mind and body to follow suit and immediately put themselves back together where they belong. But could they hurry up?
This me that nitpicks every inch of her body isn't me. This body isn't mine. Even if this body never changes, the way I feel about it isn't me. It's been good to me. It's done all the awesome things. It's got a lot more awesome things to do.
Why the hell do we care so much about how our bodies look rather than what our bodies are capable of doing? Sure, my body sure as hell isn't capable of running a 3:29 marathon right now, but it did just run 26 miles last Saturday. I just tackled it a little differently.
It's got a little work to do. It'll get there. And if it doesn't, we shall revisit this topic at a later date.
Until then, I WILL BE NICE TO ME. Probably.