Confessions of comparison.
Confession #1: The day after I ran my first 100-mile race, I was worried I had gained weight.
I ran 100 miles, and the critic that invades my near every conscious thought repeated, It was a fluke, you don’t even look like an ultra runner. This sounds absurd I’ll admit, but it’s my absurd reality. I struggle (constantly) with accepting what I look like. It’s much easier for me to wear clothing that hangs off my body than outfits that are tight against my skin. It’s easier to run long distances as a means of “purging” calories than running for less than an hour. And to this day the sight of a scale scares me more than I care to admit. So why am I admitting this? I’m human and I have a past. But it’s my hope that as a human with a past I can engage in honest conversations about these topics that other men and woman may feel as well.
Is endurance training psychologically healthy?
I feel really fortunate to not be plagued by those demonic thoughts every hour of every day. And while after reading the above you may be wondering, how on earth is it healthy for you to run such distances? trail and ultra running has actually given me much more peace than pessimism. The solitude of endurance training has a magic to it. It cultivates a drive that teaches me to be strong in the face of discomfort; the underlying premise of how I learned to overcome my eating disorder.
Why subject myself to the vulnerability?
So why am I admitting all of this? I want other runners, athletes, students and people to understand that being different is what makes us unique. I compete in a sport where the norm is to be rail thin. And that is really difficult to make peace with when you have a history like mine. Training for distances like running 100 miles breeds incredible strength, but it also makes room for immense vulnerability. There are many times that the value of my run has depreciated by the fact that I didn’t go as far as my friends on strava, or that for the life of me I couldn’t run below 9 minute pace; all of which I find ways to attribute to how much I weigh and that if I were a few pounds lighter perhaps it would have gone better.
Bringing those demons out of the dark!
I hope that by bringing some of these insecurities into the metaphorical light of the internet it demonstrates that we’re stronger than our insecurities. It’s okay to celebrate other men and women, to envy notable race performances, and to strive to be better yourself, but it’s not okay to diminish your self-worth because of it. What makes each of us as runners, athletes, students and people unique is because we’re just that, we’re unique. To be an ultra-runner doesn’t mean you have to be rail thin, much like to be in shape doesn’t require you to have zero percent body fat. Some days you go out and crush your workout, and some days the motivation simply isn’t there. And that’s okay! But don’t let that stop you. I beg you to lace up your shoes and try again tomorrow. Self-confidence doesn’t transform your mindset overnight. It takes practice and perseverance, and a will to want to see yourself succeed.
Eat the dang burrito, and ENJOY it.
The day after I ran 100 miles it was hard to convince myself that my performance had warranted eating a burrito. And while I made sure to indulge, like eating ice cream in bed with my boyfriend while watching, When Harry Met Sally, it was hard for me to be okay with the “junk,” I was putting in my body. It’s important to remember that life is meant to be enjoyed, and sometimes that means trying things that feel uncomfortable. I don’t often eat foods that are “unhealthy,” much like it’s difficult for me to take an off day. But I’m human and I’m trying and I suppose that’s all I can do.
Run Hapi and Healthy,