Why do I run?
It's a question I think about a lot. Almost every day, really. I run because it's hard for me. Every single mile I complete is a challenge both physically and mentally. Without fail, I'm usually ready to stop running after about 1/2 mile. But there is a kind and determined voice inside of me that says "Keep trying. You can do it. Don't give up." And this is extremely significant because for the first 23 years of my life, that same voice was a malicious, self-loathing one that only told me multiple times each day how ugly, fat, stupid and worthless I was. Where the change happened, I'm not exactly sure. Yes, it was definitely after the several year struggle with anorexia, then bulimia, along with chewing and spitting, binge eating, and restriction for years. But after I was recovered from harmful eating habits, I was still plagued by just-as-harmful thoughts toward myself and others. I hated myself and my body this time not because of what I weighed, but because of the fact that I "couldn't" run. I directed my self-hate to getting better at running. Although I did improve at running, my mentality was still extremely punishing and I only drove myself to shin splints and a stress fracture. It looked good on the surface ("Running is healthy!") but I was still tearing myself apart emotionally.
To be quite honest, I don't know exactly the moment where the change happened. But I suspect it happened after I realized I was running myself into the ground, not based on 100 mile weeks, but on my attitude. It likely happened when I realized I literally drove my boyfriend away from me due to this new, slightly more creative form of disordered eating/mentality. It definitely happened when I renewed my promise to be kind to myself, in part due to the wonderful fitness blogs out there. (healthytippingpoint.com, operationbeautiful.com, ohsheglows.com, among others.) And it happened when I realized that harming myself and making running an idol is a sin. And it happened in so many little things. It happened when I accomplished my goal of running a 5K without any walking breaks. And when I was forced to take last summer off because standing, much less running hurt so much due to the stress fracture. Ironically it happened when I had some "WTF are you doing?" moments while running. And it happened when I heard "I Run for Life" by Melissa Etheridge.
In other words, I now run because it makes my soul happy. Running keeps me healthy, physically and more importantly, mentally. Running forces me to be kind to myself, especially if I am to complete my goal of the Pittsburgh Marathon this Sunday! Running gives me an outlet for stress relief and provides me something that I can be proud of in my life. Every single time I complete one more mile, I am thankful for who running has helped me become. I consider it a blessing that it was and still is hard for me, because I never take it for granted. I want to inspire others to be kind to themselves, whether it is through running, or nutritious eating, or learning to voice their opinions, or learning that it's OK to say no, or that it's not selfish to get all nine hours of sleep that your body may require. I run because I can and I want to.
And that's why I'm running 26.2 this Sunday!
Be kind to yourselves!