Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Running with the body you have

Everything changed the day I understood that if I was to become a runner, I would have to run with the body I had. The day I started to accept that my running goals would have to be accomplished with my feet attached to my legs, breathing air with my lungs, and pumping blood with my heart, every aspect of my running became more pleasurable and more satisfying.

This may sound obvious. Maybe it is to those who are much smarter or much less stubborn than I. But the truth is that, from the beginning, I believed that by dieting and exercising, in whatever form, I would get a different body. I believed that sometime in the middle of the night my old body would be replaced by a new one.

I would feel sillier about believing that I was going to get a different body if I didn't think that so many other people share my delusion. There is an industry devoted to promoting this illusion. There are machines and devices that are designed to convince you that you can have someone else's legs, or arms, or abdominal muscles.

There are television shows and infomercials that take advantage of our insecurities with our bodies. They go to great lengths to convince us that if we will do something for five minutes a day, three times a week, we will actually have someone else's body. I may have been silly, but I was not alone.

Eventually, I began to look at my body less as an object and more as a tool. I began to ask myself not what I wanted my body to look like, but what I wanted my body to be able to do. I stopped looking so much at the shape of particular parts of my body and instead started considering their function. I discovered that, indeed. my body was a well-designed, fully functioning machine.

My legs were neither too short nor too long. They were fine. They were attached to my hips. They had knees, which allowed them to bend. And my feet seemed to fit rather nicely on the ends of my legs.

Not only did my legs work, but, as it turned out, the rest of my body worked well, too. My lungs drew in air. My heart pumped blood. Every system in my body worked in concert with the others. I just needed to give my body a chance to function like a machine.

As I began to use my body, as it began to respond to the physical demands I was placing on it, I saw that change and improvement were a never-ending process. I finally understood that getting in shape wasn't something that you did. It was something that you are always doing.

I watched in amazement as my body began to refine itself into the product of my effort. I was stunned when I realized that it was my body that was bringing so much pleasure into my life. Rather than being my enemy, my body was trying to reestablish the friendship that I had long ago abandoned. Rather than sending me messages of despair, through fatigue and pain, my body was sending me messages of hope and exhileration. My body was reasserting itself. My body was taking control.
(By John Bingham)

Well I'm off for a 2.5 mile run. catch ya on the flip side folks.


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