from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Monday, August 21, 2006

my body, myself

You would think that after three months of running, or at least of steadily increasing my mileage from zero to 25 miles per week, my body and I would gain a new appreciation of each other, since I took better care of it, and it enabled me to pursue whatever I hoped to achieve through running. Your would think that I’d had developed a new relationship with my body.

I hadn’t. It was, after all, still the same chubby body. Well, not exactly chubby, but not slim either. Toward the end of May I had run, over the last three months, a cumulated 225 miles or so, and I had not lost one single pound. 225 miles might not seem that much to runner (there are people who do 100 in a week), but it was 225 more than I had run in the three months before that. It had to count for some calorie consumption. But it didn’t. And I had not started to load up on chocolate and ice-cream and caramel mochas.

Then, I was hurting all the time. To a certain degree the pain was reassuring – it meant I was pushing myself, I was progressing, I was alive. I also meant I was doing something for my body, giving it the opportunity to exercise, the passion of motion. The idea was uplifting. The pain wasn’t. Presumably it would go away some day, but it didn’t. I was straining to increase mileage, straining to improve speed, straining up a higher incline. Each time I conquered the number ahead, and the body got used to the exertion, I had to push further, and the body never got a respite.

One night, while watching Cinderella Man on DVD and leisurely stretching my hamstrings, I was struck by the elegant way all the tendons and ligaments and muscles and nerves of my legs fit together. We study anatomy, but have no idea how nature could ever have devised such a perfect mechanism. I was grateful that moment that it was Running that looked me up and chose me, and not Boxing – I was grateful I was not besotted suddenly by a sport that could smash my parts to pulp.

I was exerting effort, and I would restrict smoking, I would eat right, I would pay attention to skin and joints, for the simple reason that I needed to keep the mechanism intact in order to run. I could envision a time where the simple fact of running would prompt me to love myself more.


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