August 19th, 2012

What lessons has running taught you?

I love Jen’s reflective personality. She is often sharing life lessons she learns through running on her blog, and even has an entire tab detailing her reasons for running, so I was excited that she agreed to write a purposeful running post. She shares an important body image lesson that running taught her.  Check out her blog for more life running lessons, trail running and gorgeous pictures!

My name is Jen and I’m an addict.  I’m addicted to running.  I wasn’t always like this.  I didn’t do any sports in high school.  I never considered myself an athlete in any shape or form of the word.  It all started when I got on the scale on my 3rd baby’s first birthday.  I was convinced the dryer was shrinking my pants.  I was nursing after all and I just couldn’t have gained weight!  I was still trying to lose the last 10 pounds from that pregnancy!  My weight loss was almost effortless with the other two and I was shocked that after a year the weight just hadn’t gone away. So the diet and exercise program started.  While I did all sorts of cardio, I found that running was what I really enjoyed.  I lost the 10 pounds but quickly discovered that i really didn’t care about the weight loss anymore.  Running had become more meaningful to me.  It was changing my very thinking.

I ran a 10K that year and was pretty proud of myself.  But anything longer than that seemed impossible so I really didn’t give it any more thought.  People who ran marathons were crazy and that was so far out of my reach that why waste any brain power on that?  Until I ran 9 miles one weekend and had a friend talk me into running a half marathon that next weekend.  She assured me that if I could run 9, that I could run 13.  Not knowing what I was getting into, I signed up that morning along with the other 20 or so runners and set off.  I finished.  It was hard, but that was the first day that I thought that maybe, just maybe I could run a marathon someday.  After another baby and a few years later, I found inspiration in my kid’s elementary school program to achieve that goal with them. They were to run 25 miles during the year and then run the last mile at the Ogden Marathon.

Crossing that finish line with my kids was one of the best days of my life.  I learned so much from that experience: about myself, about my family, about my friends, and invaluable life lessons that came along the way.  Soon after I started my blog Why I Run because of my passion for running and the life lessons that can be learned from it.  Those lessons will impact my life more than a PR ever will.  One of the great things about a blog is getting to share ideas and I love hearing others lessons as well.

One thing I have learned is that running helps me see my body in a different light.  I first noticed this while training for my first marathon.  I had a new self confidence that hadn’t been there before.  While I used to sit and nit pick myself in front of the mirror, I found myself loving my body a little more because of the amazing things that it was able to do.  I had incentive to change the things I could and not worry so much about the things I couldn’t.  This is one of my favorite quotes,

“I think there is no better way to invite a human being to view their body differently than by inviting them to be an athlete, by revering one’s body as an instrument rather than just an ornament.  It’s a really great way to reorient how you see your body so you can see it as this incredible, awe-inspiring machine that you need to fuel well in order for it to function.”  Alanis Morisette

My favorite part in that quote is “by revering one’s body as an instrument rather than just an ornament”. It’s really easy to get caught up in having the perfect body when we see those images all around us.  We know that a lot of them are airbrushed and not real, but there are lots of seemingly real perfect bodies out there to look at.  And when we compare ourselves to them we always walk away feeling inferior.  But, if we can redirect our focus to what our bodies can DO rather than just viewing them as an ornament and something nice to look at, we can gain a new perspective and appreciation for these amazing bodies.

I also like the verb revere that she chose.  It means: to feel deep respect or admiration for something.  If we can revere our bodies as an instrument, we’ll want to feed it better, give it the sleep that it needs, and not talk badly about it.  We can learn to love ourselves a little more.  That’s one lesson running has taught me. What’s something running has taught you?

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