This post started out with me taking this picture in the mirror after my run at the gym this afternoon.
It’s not a high quality picture, so I apologize for that. I also apologize for the seemingly egotistical nature of the photo itself. However….Anyone who works out who says they don’t look at themselves appraisingly in the mirror at one time or another is a big fat liar. So, there you go.
I was going to post this and talk about how we all should have (at minimum) one thing we like about our bodies…and somehow, within seconds, it transformed into a sort of Ode to Running….What Running has done for me.
Now, I will never be the thinnest, the fastest, or the strongest in the world, or even in a group. But I’m the fastest I’ve ever been. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I’m still not as thin as I’ve ever been, but I’m HEALTHY, which is so much more important, considering my line of work. And I can say with absolute certainty that if I’d never started running, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Here are a few things I’m thankful for. And Running….it’s all because of you.
1. My legs are strong. Like tree trunks. Just kidding Sort of. They’re strong, and sturdy, and they may get tired, shuffle, even slow to a walk, but I have no doubt in my mind that they can take me wherever I need to go. My knees are healthy and pain-free, and for that alone, I bow down before running.
2. Vastus lateralis, gastrocnemius, soleus. A lot of girls might not be pumped to see their thighs get BIGGER, but definition is AWESOME.
3. Cholesterol – Four years ago, my doctor put me on cholesterol meds. I was 27. 2 years ago, my doctor took me off of them. My total cholesterol was still above 200, but my HDL was over 100, taking my ratio down to about 2 (anything less than 5 is generally good). Today, my HDL is still over 100, and it’s because, even though my diet has been somewhat loose, I’m running regularly.
4. My immune system – Running boosts your immune system. In the last two years, I’ve had one seriously bad cold, and one seriously bad sinus infection. For someone who works in a hospital and clinic and is exposed to all manner of sick people, that’s pretty damn good. I’ve also got a 6 year old niece who’s in and out of day care and kindergarten, and I see her regularly, and she very regularly puts her hands all over my face. I think that says it all.
5. Social activity – while I’m not a member of a running club (and I should be…), I’ve managed to find a few people I really enjoy racing with, and several I really enjoy chatting with, all because I’m a runner. I love to talk about working out, and running, and racing. I love to talk about different ways to alter my diet, to make myself healthier. It’s a piece of science I haven’t yet mastered, but I find totally fascinating. And if it fascinates me, I can’t shut up about it. I’m sorry to all of you who’ve been exposed to that
6. It’s made me an athlete for the first time in my life – even though I’m slow as a mofo (and everyone says they’re slow, but I’m talking a 12:50 – 13:25 min mile), and I’ve sustained my share of injuries, I feel like an athlete. I was a band kid in HS, a delinquent-wannabe/pseudo alcoholic in college, and having to truck up the stairs to class made me break out in a sweat. Now it takes ten minutes on the treadmill before my forehead even feels slick. I feel strong, my heart feels healthy, and I feel like I have some sort of handle on my fitness level. And while I may not be the socially-accepted picture of beautiful, I feel like I understand and appreciate my body in ways I never could have imagined before I started running.
7. It’s made me an inspiration to others – I’ve been told by a few people (amid much blushing and sincere denial) that I’ve inspired them to run, or inspired them to get healthy. (Granted, since I gained a bunch of weight back, this happens less and less, but it DOES still happen). And it’s a very powerful feeling to know that you’ve inspired someone to change their life. It makes me want to try harder to make permanent changes in my own. In that way, inspiration is a cycle.
This post ended up much longer than I ever intended, but thanks for sticking with it.
What has running done for you?