In July, I decided I had to run at least 100km. Over the course of four weeks, it doesn’t seem an impressive feat but between work and travel, a bit of rather serious health stuff and trying to have some kind of social life, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. But it was good.
The truth is I’m exhausted. I’m stretched too thin. Worn out. Work has been stressful and I miss F. I miss our routine. My body hasn’t been cooperating with my life or my plans, and I feel the betrayal bitterly.
I’m so hard on myself. I’ve been so hard on myself. But running made me stop. Running let me forgive myself.
Ironically, running let me slow down.
You see, I look in the mirror and I see flaws. Loose skin and stretch marks; that 10lbs I’d still love to lose. My once perky but now saggy breasts; wrinkles where my skin was once smooth and taut. That weird squish of Mummy Tummy I don’t love, but wouldn’t trade because it’s the price I’ve so happily paid to be F’s Mama.
I look in the mirror and I don’t feel like I’m enough.
My insecurities scream in my head as I dress in the morning. You can’t wear that. You’re too old. Your belly looks big. Look at those wrinkles; god. Oh, look, and a pimple. Put some concealer on. Your thighs are jiggling. Have you gained weight? Is that cellulite?
I forgot about the wrinkles and the wiggle and jiggle with every kilometre I completed. Not once did I wonder if my stretch marks were visible or if anyone see how poorly toned my triceps are. It was freeing.
I often zone out when I run: entire sections, kilometres are missing from my memory when I get home. I know I ran through areas but I have no recollection of it – it’s both therapeutic and terrifying. Before each run this month, I promised I would be kind to myself on every step. I would do it for me. And I would enjoy it.
Fast or slow, the same route over and over or different, it didn’t matter. There was no pace to match, no time to beat. Just steps to take.
I didn’t care if my 100km took seven runs or 26. I didn’t care if I did three runs in a row, or 12 – as long as I ran. As long as I ran. As long as I ran.
Running used to be almost punishment. I did it to be thin. I did it to justify what I’d eaten. I did it to undo what I’d eaten. I did it for everyone else. But then, something shifted – I’m not sure when, but it did – and one day I woke up craving the movement. And so I ran for me.