Real Runner

When I was bigger, I used to judge healthy, active people all the time. 

I’d see runners pounding the pavement along the main drag through town, or at the nearby park, and I’d drive by and silently berate them. 

“Who do these people think they are?” 

If I happened to be driving with someone else, I’d crack a joke.  “They should just go eat a cheeseburger already.”

Before embarking upon my weight loss journey, I would laugh in the face of anyone who exercised for fun.  My idea of a strenuous workout was taking my dog for a walk around the block – and I did so only because he was begging for one, not because I wanted to exercise.

I didn’t see the point of exercise, and even if I wanted to join a gym, I didn’t see how I would ever find the time to make it there.  The idea of squeezing myself into spandex capris and a restrictive sports bra and getting all sweaty simply did not appeal to me.  Besides, why waste the limited down time I have working out when – thanks to digital cable – there are more than 500 channels to surf? 

Last night, I wore my running capris under my jeans because I knew I could probably squeeze a 40-minute run in between appointments in the middle of my day.  I stashed my iPod, water, and vest in the car, and wore my sports bra, heart rate monitor, and workout top underneath my regular clothes.  I couldn’t wait to crank up the music and feel the cold air against my face. 

As I approached the shimmering, icy lake, and took in the sunset, I couldn’t help but stop for a minute to reflect on how far I’ve come.

I had actually planned – and looked forward to – going for a run. 

I get so caught up in my frustration over not yet being at my “goal” weight that sometimes I don’t realize just how much progress I’ve made.  I forget how drastically my life has changed since deciding once and for all to get my weight under control.

When I look in the mirror, I still have  a hard time seeing a healthy, fit person – and I’m very hesitant to call myself a “runner.”  Despite how much my day-to-day life has changed since I joined Weight Watchers, and how much smaller my body is now, I still can’t seem to shake the memories of the “old” me…the girl who wouldn’t be caught dead engaging in any form of physical activity, and who certainly wouldn’t plan her day around a visit to the park! 

Today, I can’t wait until 1pm.  I’m going to enjoy a healthy lunch, slip into my workout clothes, and go for a jog around town.  I have some letters to mail and I’m out of stamps, so I’m going to incorporate my errands into my workout.

…I don’t even know who I am anymore.

As I pass my fellow exercisers on the trail and we nod politely to each other, I often wonder what they’re thinking of me.  Do they see my big thighs under my sweatpants and assume I’m  just here to burn calories because I need to lose weight, or do they (mistakenly) assume that I have thick, muscular legs because I am a bonafide runner? 

Two years ago, I would avoid climbing stairs because I knew how long it would take to catch my breath afterwards.  I was always looking for the shortcut to avoid any extraneous walking.  Despite how amazing I feel about myself, and how genuinely addicted I now am to exercise, sometimes I think I’m still that girl.

None of the other runners at the park know my story.  They don’t know how life affirming a simple jog truly is to me.  They don’t know that just two years ago, attempting to run could have been seriously dangerous to my health. 

Sometimes feel like an imposter; I assume the “real” athletes at the gym or the park are looking at me and wondering why the heck I’m there.

But not last night. 

Because for the first time, I was truly a runner.

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One thought on “Real Runner

  1. Peter

    You are a fantastic runner, so much that i am scared to go running with you, cause i will be left in the dust.

    Plus those are great pictures you took, i thought they were professional ones at first, lol.

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