All over the blog world, I am seeing people reviewing the book Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner" by Jennifer Graham.
I am sure I will read this book. The reviews make it sound funny. However, I am a little worried to read it since her "fat" weight is below my goal weight, and her "slow" time is no where near a time/distance I will ever run.
However, even though I may not be able to relate to everything this woman writes, I think I will understand the gist of it.
I will never forget the feelings I felt when I first started running. I was at the gym the first night I tried it. Up until that point I had only been walking on the treadmill. I would incline that bitch up to the sky, but I never sped up to go faster than a brisk walk. Finally, one night in Feb 2012, I sped it up just to see if I even could run.
I ran for about 30 seconds and died. Then I walked a bit, and tried again. 60 seconds. I made it up to 2 minutes that night and felt an incredible surge like I hadn't felt before during a workout.
After that, I shared my urge to run with my personal trainer. Heather ran marathons, half marathons, relay marathons...she was the shit. She told me to buy a better pair of shoes (she actually looked at the shoes I was wearing that day in disgust and said "Um, do not try to run in those") and from that point on, she asked about my running every single time I saw her.
My fears of running weren't about the actual physical act of running. They weren't about being able to do it, or my breathing, or injuring myself. No. Those fears would make sense. These were my thoughts, that were running through my head each and every time I ran (I wish I was exaggerating this):
"You are SO FAT. Why do you think you can do this? All these people are laughing at you. They can't believe a fat girl like you is trying to run. They are laughing at your fat jiggling around. That girl is running so much faster than you. She is laughing at your poor, pathetic, fat ass. You are FAT. She is SKINNY. You will never be as good as her."
I know, right? I am an extremely confident person in every other aspect of my life, but I guess I have been called fat, or big, or Jabba the Hut too many times in my life.
I started using the Couch to 5K app. I still thought those horrible thoughts, but as more and more weight came off I started feeling a bit more confident. My pace got better and I was able to run for longer periods of time. I even "beat" some people on the treadmills, meaning I was running when they started and still running when they left. I was still obsessive about it though, constantly trying to read the treadmill when other people were running - what pace were they doing? How far had they gone? It was always about other people, what they were doing and what they were thinking of me. I got clear up to the final two weeks of the C25K workouts when I had to stop for my neck surgery. I was so upset about so much during those days, but one of my main scares was that all my hard work would go to waste. I was so worried that I would "lose it" and not be able to run after I got better.
After my recovery and I was cleared to work out again, I got on that treadmill. My legs and feet felt heavier than lead. I was terrified. I started the Couch to 5K workouts over at Week 4. It all came pouring back to me, and I was able to breeze through the workouts. The first few days were scary, because I was pretty much convinced my neck would open up, or my head would fall off all together.
I finally really started running outside at that point. I love being outside so much more than that stupid treadmill. In March I ran my first race, an 8K. In April I ran my second race, a 5K. I'm signed up for another 5K in May, and I have officially started my half marathon training. I don't have a half picked out, but I want to see if I can do that distance.
Something clicked in my head when I was running that first race. Maybe it took actually signing up for a race, and being around other runners for it to register with me that NOBODY cares what I look like. Nobody cares that I jiggle when I run. No one cares that I'm sweating like a pig, or that I'm breathing in a weird rhythm that mirrors childbirth. Runners don't think that about each other, all runners want to do is support one another and get everyone across that finish line. . Together, we are lapping everyone still sitting on the couch, too scared or lazy to try. It doesn't matter what pace you run at, or what clothes you wear, or what noises you make - you are running. And burning a shit ton of calories. It's a head game, and it's a body game, and it's a soul game. And it's a game I love playing.
Since that first race, I've been running differently. I am not running around making gasping sounds or anything, but if I need to take a few minutes to breathe really deeply to get a cramp out, I do it. If I need to wear a tshirt and mittens, I do it. I don't care what anyone thinks. And when I pass a fellow runner, we always greet each other and smile. Because we get it.