In July of 2017, for the first time, I opened my “Couch to 5k” app with serious determination to finish it.
I intentionally picked the month of July because it is very distant from the suffocating #NewYearNewMe proclamations and there was no guise of “getting my body bikini-ready” to contend with—also, no one in their right mind starts running for the first time in the middle of summer, so I had the running trails mostly to myself.
The first Couch to 5k training session involved running at one minute and thirty second intervals.
I thought that I was either in the process of dying, or I was already dead and descending into hell.
No one wants to think they can’t run for a minute and thirty seconds, but believe me when I say I had to stop at sixty seconds, convinced I had suddenly developed asthma due to overexertion.
The day before I opened my Couch to 5k app, Marty and I had signed up for the Dark Side 10k at Disney World. “People do 5ks with no training” I said to myself, “so getting ready for 10k should require, like, 4 weeks of training maximum.”
And here I am, on January 8th 2018, just now opening my 5k to 10k training app, cursing the fact that I had no concept of how long a kilometer was when I signed up for a 10k, and would never have done so had I known it meant running for an hour.
So now, with plans tonight to begin the final leg of my training for the 10k, I need to remind myself of why running feels so important to me.
Let me preface this by saying that my pacing is pretty terrible. My timing doing a 5k was abysmal. Also, I have never ONCE enjoyed the experience of running while it’s happening. Never once. A “runner’s high” exists only in a theoretical space for me.
But mentally, running feels incredibly healing on levels where I didn’t think healing needed to occur.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll just dive right in and say that puberty hits us all differently, but it hit my butt overnight. I didn’t realize how out of hand things had gotten until I was called up by the teacher at my Catholic school because my uniform skirt was too short. To her horror, she saw that my skirt met regulations in the front (one inch above the knee) but was a full eight inches too short in the back. My mom had to re-sew all my skirts so that, when you held them up, the back of the skirt formed an elongated oval shape. A shield for my harlot shape.
“But butts are IN, Carly!” “Stop complaining about having an ample behind!”
When you’re 11 years old and grown men begin making sexual comments about your body, it doesn’t feel like a compliment. It feels scary, shameful, and out of your control, and that is a difficult emotion to separate from your own perception of your body. All women can relate to this. We live in a world where female bodies seem stamped with permission for public comment, and it doesn’t matter what shape you are. It’s why women become hyper-focused on appearance, because we are taught that it is all we possess worth commenting on.
So how does this relate to running?
Having lived in my body for a good fifteen years post-puberty, I’ve learn to be comfortable with what it is (and significantly less begrudging of what it isn’t), but I didn’t know I could be proud of it. Being able to run for 30 minutes straight when I couldn’t even run for over a minute when I started has been, no exaggeration, one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I’ve always trusted myself internally, but learning to trust my physical body has been like being introduced to someone I’ve known from afar for a long time, but never got around to meeting.
I feel like I’ve become a DSB. A Do Somethin’ Bitch:
I think Rhonda Rousey could be a little more generous to other women in that clip (if you want to use your body to attract millionaires, go for it), but the notion that your body is YOURS and is not created for others’ perceptions is empowering af.
So tonight, I am going to embark on my journey to run for an hour +, which seems even less feasible than going from 1 minute to 30. I will likely be one of the last individuals to cross the finish line in April, but I will cross it, and it will be because of–not in spite of–this big phat ass.