Miracle Cat and Why we can still rock with 3 legs

I want to expand beyond what I thought I was capable of. I want to stand up, not shrink behind the allusion that pain is a bad thing, therefore giving me the right and duty to quit. I want to do distances that scare me, because bravery is cultivated in the trenches. I want to push past those limits I thought were there, because allusions are best debunked with science and a whole lot of faith in the methods.

My cat is a huge inspiration.  He is also a jerk.  But let’s talk about the former, shall we folks?

But first, some background on my miracle-kitty:

2 months ago, my cat went missing.  A coyote was spotted in our neighborhood, so we were certain he was puppy chow (not to be confused with the powdered sugar-crack that one nasty friend brings to sleepovers…you, missy, ruined any self restraint I thought I had).  Anyhoo, we thought the cat was dead, sad.  My grandmother, who was a big advocate for animal rights (as she fostered not only children, but animals as well, throughout her life) died on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day, someone found our cat.  As we were heading to my grandmother’s funeral, someone called, saying that they found him (place a chip in your animals, people!).  He had been hit by a car, leaving one of his hind legs hanging off of his body like tacky-dangly earrings.  But he is alive.  3 legs, 2 eyes, and one pissed-off expression.

Miracle cat, am I right?  Thanks grandma.

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^he does not want to be hugged or photographed but here I am, doing both. 

Anyway, my cat is a huge inspiration.  Sure, he survived being struck by a vehicle, but there is something even more astonishing about him.  He has maintained his athleticism.

Today, I did a treadmill-workout where I did 1 up-4 at goal marathon pace-1 down.  In a former, more scary running life of mine, this workout would have been considered a “recovery run” for me.  But alas, this workout kicked my bootay; I wanted to quit a million times (but didn’t) and had some major heat-issues (that basement gets steamy…carpets.). I felt good about myself, toughing it out and investing in the run, but afterwards I felt a bit sad/peeved.   I feel like a shadow of my former self, the person that had her self-worth in running and as a result, ran 100% of her runs off of sheer adrenaline and fear.  Not a sustainable way to live, but boy, could I cook it.

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^a conversation I have with my legs when we are taking a nice trip on the struggle-bus

I thought about this and reminded myself that I have to be kind to my brain and my body, trusting in the process and not comparing two different versions of myself without considering the full story.   The full story is, I was unhappy, too thin (for me), too overworked, isolated, and petrified of running, back then.  Now, I am happy to run, and still investing in tough workouts, scary races, annoying recovery runs, and proper fueling.  But still, the competitive part of me wants to know I will still be able to game when the time comes.  I don’t settle, I just don’t.  Even if I nailed some nasty workout or ran a great race, I would still never be satisfied/think I am that great.  But that is another blog for another time…

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^me, when I am writing…what was I talking about again?

Anyway, I thought about this want and then I thought about this amazing thing my cat did the night before.  You see, my cat in his time away from home, got super thin because hello, he was in the wilderness.  Bear Grills style, folks.  Well, now he is always hungry and would eat the bowl if he could.  So, my mom decided to place it on a high shelf because we thought hey, 3 legged cats can’t jump 3 feet in the air anymore.

Wrong-o.

That little guy jumped up onto the ledge, with 3 legs and one victory meow.  He is definitely not in the same cat-shape he was in the past, but he still did that amazing thing.  He really wanted that bowl, guys.

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^this image has nothing to do with the post but it is funny so there we are, there we are.

Guys, I really want that bowl.  Not a time (though certain times would be nice), not a mileage (though time on my feet is important), not a pace (though I still want to know I can drop it like it’s how from time to time), but a journey.  I want to expand beyond what I thought I was capable of.  I want to stand up, not shrink behind the allusion that pain is a bad thing, therefore giving me the right and duty to quit.  I want to do distances that scare me, because bravery is cultivated in the trenches.  I want to push past those limits I thought were there, because allusions are best debunked with science and a whole lot of faith in the methods.  I nailed a workout today that was void of my self-worth, pushed me past my perceived limit, and will only make me better.

I may be a different version of myself from almost a year ago, but my cat showed me that you can still get that bowl with 3 legs.

Maybe that 4th leg is fear.  Maybe it is placing my self worth in anything but who I am.  Maybe it is getting unsustainably light.  Maybe it is resisting rest.

Whatever it is, we can drop that leg we thought we needed and still get that bowl. 

We just have to want it enough.  

 

How to get through the holidays like a runner:

I am not the first person on this planet to recognize, talk about, and now, write about how rough the holidays can be.  There are a laundry list of things that trigger myself, and the rest of the population, around this time of year.  I could write out the list, but I don’t feel like inducing myself into hyperventilation (or you, dear reader) at the moment.

For one, I have to (scratch that-get to) go running in a bit, and I would prefer to keep my workouts to 3 (and yes, I count my part-time job where I dead lift trays of bread for 3 hours a workout) for the day, not 4.

So, in honor of keeping the panic attacks to a minimal level, I am going to write about how I plan to survive these next few weeks.  Scratch that, I am going to thrive.  Smackdown time, Turkey Tom and Christmas Elves- Kaytlin is in the house and she isn’t afraid of you. She is actually terrified of you, but also, is exceptionally brave.  

It is like that marathon I signed up for- I am sitting here, sucking my thumb in panic but also, memorizing that race course, training hard, and planning my attack strategy like a MOFO.  Bring it.

And so I continue… (if you have stuck with me this long for this post, God bless).

This year, I have fallen down on my face like one of those weeble wobbles; I keep getting back up, but I am praying for someone to give me some legs.  Some legs, please, falling hurts!  As it is a part of the process and a part of life, I am embracing the lessons along the way and one of those lessons has been “play your game”.  And so, I will use what I have learned and apply it to the holidays.  Because, folks, failure is not learning from your mistakes and momma didn’t raise no failure.

So: How to Survive the Holidays Using Running Strategies: Aka, How to Play your Game

1. Sign up!  Mark your calendar!

Like any major part of our lives, the holidays require intense plotting and planning.  Being a Type A personality, this falls right into my “happy zone of comfort”.  Oh, how I love a good calendar.  And, just like signing up for a race that terrifies us, the first step is to sign up.  Pick your poison, the kind of race you can handle, and hand over the moolah and the next few months of your life!

As it goes in signing up, one must really consider what they can handle/what they would semi-enjoy.  For me, hills don’t really bother me that much.  So I figured, when at mile 22 , a speed bump feels like Mount Everest, I can remember my happy place and crawl into the warm pain cave of “hill climbing” that I love so well.  Around the holidays, this concept can apply to virtually anything!

a. When choosing holiday parties, our obligations to friends and family are something we have to occasionally grin and bear- but, we can still pick our poison.  Rather than spending the whole party swatting away the judgy, annoying comments from those we “cherish”, take at least 5 minutes, every hour, to go hide in the bathroom and numb your mind by playing your favorite game on your phone.  Mark it on your mental calendar to remove yourself once in a while.  Mine is “find the most obscure friend from high school that you can on Facebook, and imagine a beautiful life for them in your head”.  Then, meditate after.

So far, I have married 3 people from my geometry class and one cheerleader has won a trip to Norway!  What a blast!

b. Another way to plot and scheme, is to attend parties you ABSOLUTELY MUST ATTEND.  As in, someone is going to cry or be/continue to be passive aggressive to you if you don’t go.  For most of us, these are the times that try men’s (or women’s) souls.  Mark these events on your calendar, and utilize the strategy I listed above.

c. If all else fails, sign up for a holiday fun run on that same day.  One that benefits charity.  “Sorry, I can’t go to your party (aka sit there while I listen to you talk about your life for an hour then judge mine, leaving me crippled and very aware of every flaw I have ever had)…I have to do a charity run for the Zoo. Harambe needs me!”

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2. Study that course!

Figure out your triggers! The mile markers where you predict, you will need some assistance or a pep talk.

“At mile 8, there is a turn, so look for the turn and you know you are at mile 8″= “whenever it is darker out, you know you are low on vitamin D and need to listen to happy music and drink herbal tea and pray and meditate like a woman on a mission!”

“At mile 22, you are going to be really emotional because you will see your family there so recognize that feeling and keep running”=”whenever you smell maple syrup and biscuits together, you are going to want to cry because it will remind you of that one time you were knee deep in anorexia and lost control and ate like, 10 rolls with maple syrup.  So, go smell your dog or something.”

“At the start line, you are going to shake with fear and doubt yourself, so remind yourself how far you have come to get here and remember you are enough to do the dang thing”=”Right before you go to see certain family members, you will be petrified and afraid of getting hurt, so remember how far you have come and remember you are enough to stand without their knives holding you up”.

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3. Fuel!

This isn’t diet season.  For those of us coming out of an eating disorder, holidays centered around food are reminiscent of making someone afraid of heights to go stand on the Sky Deck and smile because “You should be happy, this is fun!”

No, this is not fun.  I am anxious and now I am sad that I am so abnormal and can’t be happy like everyone else.

When you feel your mind “bonking” on you, remember that food doesn’t have power nor does it have symbolism.  For some people, it may represent the holidays- it doesn’t have to be that way for you- it is okay to be different!  Just like those nasty GU packs that everyone “loovvveessss”- no, those things are gross.  But they are necessary and are fuel and we NEED them.  Maybe practice fueling- buy one of those mini-pumpkin pies and retrain your brain to not want to vomit upon sight.  Have a little date night, where you eat one anxiety inducing food at a time, with someone you trust, and rename them to something less scary.  For me, rolls were named “fat inducing, hell fire storm” but are now named “Mitch’s love child and they kinda taste like heaven”.

On “game day”, take your time.  Smell the food.  It doesn’t represent failure nor does it represent how “good or healthy you are”.  It is a representation of your grannies passive aggressive attempt to piss off your grandad as she puts those pecans in the stuffing that she KNOWS he hates.  Laugh at this fact, then eat.

Kinda like the GU’s, your stomach just has to get used to it.  It will get better.

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4. Enjoy the process

I could end this with a speech about how people in other areas of the world have it much worse than us.  I could, because they do, and I will never understand their lives.  But, that doesn’t make this situation suck any less.

It is kinda like asking someone when they are going to do a full marathon after they do a half.  What do you mean?  Do you know what 13.1 miles even feels like? WHY are you not considered a “runner” unless you run a marathon?  News flash- if you race it right, they all hurt like being stung by 1000 bees, so don’t call it “only” a 5k ever again.

Now, I will end this post by saying, positivity is KEY.  Not ignorance, not saying “oh, this won’t be bad at all”.  Because really, I am predicting a pain train of wonder and fun for this marathon; but, I am enjoying the process because I am so lucky to be a sentient being.  To have people that love, support, and cherish me like I do for them.  To have food on the table.  To have the privilege to experience a whole range of feelings and emotions (pain included). 

Does it have to feel good all the time?  No- neither does training.  But at the end of the day, when we put on gratitude and remember the REAL reason why we do it all, our load gets a bit lighter.

I am enjoying the training and I am enjoying the holidays.  My calendar is marked, I have my strategies, and I have put on gratitude.

Now, time to go run.

One time I was called a…

Wink

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

So, my grandpa turned on the heat in the house today.  My running motivation was right above “no way” and just below “apathetic” (is it just me, or the days we have shorter runs planned are the days we have the hardest time getting out the door?).  At the 2.5 mark of my run, I let the heat get into my head and I wanted to quit out of panic/overheating/boredom.

I love running on treadmills because they force us into a place of mental toughness that a sunny, beautiful day outside can’t replicate.

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I thought about quitting and tried to coax myself back in, digging in the well of past sources of motivation.  Fear.  Shame.  Self-loathing-induced running.  A chip on my shoulder.  Something to prove.  Anger.  Upon deciding that these sources are nothing but dirty dishwater, I sought cooler and more sanitary waters.  This journey has been difficult for me.

When you are used to doing things one way, un-training yourself from these patterns is a two part process: defining what are lies and rediscovering what is the truth.  Finding my truth requires some confidence that I am currently still forging.  Since I don’t run out of shame or fear or anything listed above anymore, I have been having trouble committing and believing that I am worth “the try”.

And then I had a thought: I might not have the exact answer or confidence to define why I need to keep going.  Why I am worth it.  What it all means.  But I won’t find that answer if I refuse to believe and commit to myself when it doesn’t count on a scoreboard.  If I can’t find it inside when there is nothing on the line, there is no way I will when it matters.  And maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to justify anything right now.  Maybe I keep going because that is how you forgive yourself.  Figure out who you are.  Maybe I keep going because I can.  Because somewhere inside of this soul of mine, is a fire that can’t be defined or justified.  It burns because it can.

I finished the run, with a 1.5 mile hill in there.  Because I could.  And I freaking love hills.

As I turned on my favorite trashy t.v (this time it was “The Talk”) the ladies were discussing a recent essay written by Nicole Richie.  This is the part that they quoted and the part that hit me so hard in the chest, I felt the dull ache spread from my heart into my shoulders.  Here it is:

“I’ve been given many titles: Wild child. Reality star. White-washed black girl. Skinny. Rich. (I guess the last two aren’t so bad).

Now, at 35, the only titles I am taking on are the ones I give myself.”

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She is pretty funny. I like her reality show.  That is all.

The ladies on “The Talk” talked about labels we have been given when we were children and which ones we believe now.  I got hit in the chest now, the ache turning into a racing heartbeat.  I had to write.  And here I am.  Writing.  Or something like that…

I thought about labels and how for most of my life, I have believed and lived by those labels like the obedient girl I am.  Sometimes, I am too obedient.  Sometimes, way way way too obedient.

I have been called fat, so I kept eating junk to prove them right.

I have been called lazy, so I thought “why try”.

A slob, so I let everything fall apart.

Weak and crazy, so I continued to starve my body and brain.

Slow, so I slowed down.

Manipulative, so I put up more walls.

Of bad character, so I became terrified of standing for anything.

Not a runner, so I stopped.

On my run today, I thought about how I used to run fast, faster, and fastest, pushing my body past its warning signals every day, just to prove those voices wrong.  I would stop trying because eventually, I got so worn down from running from the labels, that I decided to lie down and let myself be caught by them.  But maybe there is nothing to run from.  Maybe, just maybe, the minute I stop running from things, justifying who I am in relation to who I am told that I am, and finally forgive myself for my mistakes, I can move forward to define who I really am.  I can either be the victim or be the student.  Learn.  Grow.  Love.

I love, run, serve, pray, believe, nurture, grow, show up, push, protect, because I can.

I will.

I am.

Label that. 😉

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Wink.

Part 2:The Science

Based on the science, my take away for both males and females is this: improving body composition has its place, but it is low on the totem pole on the road to getting faster.

First, I wanted to thank everyone who reached out to me – privately or publicly – after yesterday’s post.  It is freaking scary to talk about topics that hit so close to home, but support makes the load a little less back breaking.

Second, I wanted to spend this post talking about science, our perceptions of “race weight” and what it all means for runners.  There will be some sections that are specifically meant for female runners, but male runners can definitely benefit from some science class as well. Links to my sources are given.

Okay, so I am not going to sit here and lie to everyone/jumble the science and say that lighter does not equal faster. Because technically, it does.  One main component of increasing our speed is increasing our VO2 max, or how much oxygen we consume while exercising.  Oxygen use is essential to go faster, because that oxygen is delivered to our muscles while we run (source).  Our muscles love that oxygen and the higher we can get our VO2 max, the more oxygen we can feed those hard working muscles of ours. VO2 max is measured in mL Oxygen/ kg body weight consumed; therefore, lighter bodies equate to more oxygen pumped to our muscles (source).

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Well, that’s it folks. All you need to know. Shed those pounds because nothing else matters.

Kidding.  Anyway, it is true.  To an extent, our bodies just perform better when we are lighter.  But there is a cut off.  This is not an all or nothing thing.  And I think we (or at least I do) forget that in running and in life sometimes: the answers are never that simple.  Let’s discuss further.  In a study by Samuel Mettler, Nigel Mitchell, and Kevin Tipton, they found that as runners were shedding fat, athletes were shedding muscle as well (source).  Now, marathoners are not known for being built like body builders but also, lets take a minute to consider how FAST those elites are going (thus, how strong they have to be).  The world record marathon for men is a 2:02:57 set by Dennis Kimetto, which in case you were wondering, is 26.2 miles ran at a 4:41 minutes/mile pace (source).  You don’t do that with little muscle on your body because *cough, clears throat, shakes head* THAT IS SO FAST!

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Dennis, if you wanna send some of that speed my way, I would greatly appreciate it.

Also, in a study by Cathy Zanker and Ian Swaine, the researchers found that if athletes were taking in less calories than they were burning, they  had lower levels of blood markers of bone and collagen synthesis (aka an athlete is at a risk for more bone and tendon injuries). (source).  So, periods of dieting/fasting for a while can lead to muscle loss (slower) and bone and tendon injuries (more time on the sidelines and less time training).

Now, science says athletes aren’t banned from losing weight and I totally agree; there are some instances where shedding some unnecessary fat could help (as body composition is a better indicator of health anyway)(source).  But, there are two important things to remember:

  1. Sports health professionals have provided guidelines for how much body fat a person should have or shed and that line should NOT be played with(source), as it puts an individual at risk for cardiovascular disease (your body can start to eat your heart) and muscle loss.  If you want to improve body composition, seek a medical professionals help first.  If you don’t trust your regular doctor, sports doctors or dietitians can be more sympathetic to the special needs of athletes.
Body Fat %
Age Women Men
General health <55 20-35% 8-22%
>55 25-38% 10-25%
Physically active <55 16-28% 5-15%
>55 20-33% 7-28%

2. Losing 0.5-2 pounds a week is okay but any more than that, and you are setting      yourself up for burnout, injury, or can slow your metabolism for the long haul                (causing you to put that weight right back on) (source).

Bottom line, for both male and female athletes: losing body fat is fine, but in a controlled way with the help of a medical professional and good support around you.  Furthermore, fat loss is not the complete answer for faster running: smart training, playing your game, proper nutrition, sound recovery methods, sleep, and God given talent all play a role in performance.  At the end of the day, it is the well trained (both physically and mentally) athlete with muscles that fire, passion, and miles of hard work on and off the roads that create the champion.

Finally, let’t talk about female athletes.  First and foremost, I think it is so important to educate ourselves on our unique physiology and if you want to do so, I highly recommend listening to THIS podcast and reading THIS book.  Dr. Stacy Sims puts it best when describing female athletes:

“Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one.”

This blog would be 2000 pages long if I went into all the science and differences between male and female athletes, but I shall just write the Cliff Notes version here (based on the lessons I learned from the podcast and book).

  1. Women do not shed weight like men.  When in a famine state (aka dieting) our bodies tend to hold onto the weight, shift our metabolisms, and shut down our periods.  Our hormones go out of wack and our performance suffers.
  2. Women have a lower VO2 max than males because we are fat burners during exercise (as opposed to carb burners, a more efficient fuel, like our male counterparts).  Inefficient fuel= less oxygen getting to our bodies = slower times.  We also have smaller lungs and hearts which means less oxygen is getting pumped through our blood.
  3. Women have a harder time holding on to muscle than men and have less type II, anaerobic muscle fibers than men.  Our bodies are more prone to break down muscle post exercise because post exercise, women start to burn carbohydrate for energy.  Which would be fine, except female hormones prevent women from storing carbohydrate very well.  SO, the next best source of fuel= our muscles.
  4. Having a period is not something to be afraid of and neither is puberty- sure, our bodies shift in weight/proportion and such but females (on their period) perform more like their male counterparts because while on a period we are in a low hormone stage.

What does this all mean for the female athlete?  Well it means that proper and sufficient fueling is essential.  Don’t fuel properly after exercise, and we are at a risk for breaking down muscle that we don’t hold on to very well to begin with.  Less muscle= you have less of a chance to “chick” some dudes in a race 😉 Not fueling enough= ceased menstrual cycle, low energy availability, and a jacked up metabolism.  Not to mention, you miss out on that peak performance time= our periods.

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Paula Radcliffe broke the marathon record for women in 2002 in Chicago while suffering from period cramps.

This is also not to say that females cannot lose fat if they want to increase performance- but they should seek out a medical professional first, develop a good support group, and have a end goal in sight (not one that keeps getting extended).

Based on the science, my take away for both males and females is this:  improving body composition has its place, but it is low on the totem pole on the road to getting faster.

Training hard matters

Recovery matters

Eating well/ nutrient timing matters

Strength and flexibility matters

And mental strength DEFINITELY matters

 

I hope this was informative!

Anyone else have some good info about science and training?

 

Body Talk (part 1)

The same goes with life; there is no upward curve. No magic path. No perfect person. No “one way” to do anything. Some call that a “roller coaster”.

I say, what a ride.

I have talked about this topic previously on my old blog, but I wanted to address it here today because I am in a lot different of a spot than I was a couple of months ago.  Some may say this topic is over discussed, over hyped, or overshared.  But like Lauren Fleshman and Dr.Melody Moore discussed on their highly insightful podcast (one you can listen to HERE) this stigma/disease/what have you FEEDS off of silence.

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So I am here to talk about eating disorders, athletes, and the female body (but this talk definitely pertains to males though!).  This post will be in multiple segments, as there is so much to cover.  Today I start with my story and what I am in the process of discovering:

The Cliff Notes version of my story is this: I developed anorexia the summer before my freshman year of college.  It was my way of seeking control for a life that I felt I had no control over.  It spiraled, I came home from a semester at Saint Louis University, and started attending therapy.  I thought I was done with it when I was able to move out on my own.  I was wrong.  I started to hear rumors that I was being called “too big” to be a runner.  “I am surprised to see she is running so fast, considering her body”.

That wrecked me.  So I developed a a binge/purge cycle that caused me to stop running (my body couldn’t physically take all that stress and run at the same time), make silly life choices, and reach an all time low and uncomfortable weight.  If I couldn’t be the perfect standard I had starved myself to reach, I was going to light myself on fire and let the flame burn wild.

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Unlike the girl in this song, who is fun loving and free. What a good song. Gavin Degraw…sorry Mitch!

Fast forward to when I reached “the bottom”.  I rediscovered running and fell in love.  Not just with my main man (bae), but with running, the freedom, and getting my life back together.  I saw a direct correlation between me dropping weight and me getting faster.  All I wanted was to be fast, and I would prove my loyalty to the sport by staying unhealthily thin.  That turned to me running more and more miles, faster and faster, speeding out of control.  I thought I was doing okay, as I was getting help from a sports dietitian.  But my mind wasn’t right- my self worth was in running and I did everything I could to prove to running that I was loyal and wanted to be the BEST (in a way I thought got you there- more mileage, less weight, more sacrifices).

Being at race weight is such a tricky subject to discuss, as it is semi-true. Lighter equals quicker.  But what they don’t tell you is that more miles, less weight, and more sacrifices can only last for so long.  For some it lasts for a week- for some, a couple of years.  For me, it lasted about a year.  And then I got hurt, over trained, and I was mentally all out of sorts.  I was a slave to running.

Running, food, weight, TV shows, relationships, etc all have a place in our lives.  When they begin to choke out other passions, problems arise.   My relationships were suffering, my period didn’t come back, and my depression was at an all time high.  Thank God for positive influences around me to snap me out of it and therapy.

I discovered I was numbing my feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, pain, anger, and other unresolved issues I had with another addiction; one of the loves of my life had been injured, by my own hand.  Poor running had been used as a coping strategy, a proving ground, and the only solid evidence I had for myself that I “had my life together” and I had talent.  That killed me on the inside.

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Being afraid of our past or unworthiness or the example of others only is a blindfold.  We cant learn if we are scared all the time.  Ignorance attracts our biggest fears because we never see them coming.

Running and I are back to building a positive relationship together.  It is taking me being kinder to my body to realize how far I was pushing it.  How much running controlled me.  The same thing has been happening to my relationship with my body.  Since dropping the training volume now and eating more (to nourish, HEALTHILY and balanced), I have noticed my hips more.  They are bigger.  I am more muscular.  My thighs are like rocks.  I have a non-sunken in six pack. My arms are more muscular.  My butt is bigger.Not to be TMI, but my chest is a tad bigger too.  Some of these things I have in my head as positives and some make me really uncomfortable.

I would be lying if I said this doesn’t wreck me on the inside sometimes.  I go back to thinking “you are less dedicated to running because you are letting this happen to your body”.  “You look BIG and not like a runner”.  “You are slower/hurting because you are losing control of your body”. Or an old favorite “you are just going down that slipper slope of your old party, imperfect ways when you let yourself get healthier”.  What all of these thoughts don’t realize is that I am a runner, because I run and love it.  I am fast because I said so and I am not afraid to hurt.  I am healthier because I can eat dinner until I am comfortably full without wondering if people are staring at me, purging or restricting later, or just not eating until I am full at all (which really hinders our running at the end of the day).

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Being afraid of unworthiness and shame numbs me to the amazing things happening around me, the amazing things my body can do when I treat it right, and a God that loves me.

I have to think about it, I have thought about it, and what I have come to decide is this:

We aren’t defined by our mistakes, our positive aspects, our weight, our size, or our speed.

Our dedication to our sport, ourselves, or others isn’t defined by how much pain we can put ourselves in, how much we can sacrifice, or how much we can numb and pretend not to care.Our dedication is not based upon some obscene standard which we have devised, based upon an absurd concoction of all the things we “should be” based upon what every person on this planet has defined as “worthy”.

We are defined by our connection with one another- how openly we share our stories, how well we listen, and what we do to move forward.  Some call that love, I call that our duty.

Our dedication is defined by our recognition that “love” grows with patience, adaptability, self awareness/refinement, and a whole lot of heart.  I call that “healthy discipline”.

What I have to say is this: running fast isn’t an upward curve based on the following: low weight, more miles, more speed work, more strength training, less time with friends, less time on our other passions.  Running fast (or just running in general) takes balance and dedication to not only the craft, but a relationship that is supposed to last us a lifetime.

The same goes with life; there is no upward curve.  No magic path.  No perfect person. No “one way” to do anything.  Some call that a “roller coaster”.

I say, what a ride.13724984_1126848990708982_8879520798330204111_o

FYI: If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating or disordered body image, please feel free to contact me or a health professional.  I have some resources at my disposal (contacts) for anyone who wants help.  Or if you want someone to listen, I am here for that too.

If you are struggling, know that I may or may not know you, but I love you and am here for you.  Do not be ashamed.  Do not hide. Talk about it.