With the news and unfolding follow-up events of the Boston Marathon bombings and the explosions at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, this week has been a roller-coaster of emotions. I’m not going to lie, as I read the reports about the plant explosion, I found myself asking God, “Lord, what is the deal? Why is all of this happening? Couldn’t you just prevented all of this before we had to endure all the death and tears? This is all too much.” Yet even as I was finishing, I found myself wondering why I was doubting so much. I can’t explain why these events had to happen or what God has in mind for the restoration process, but I’m stepping up to do what I can to be a part of it. In order to be able to do that, I believe, I have to look beyond my fears and move past my own issues with being labeled a “runner.”
First of all, what fears? I gotta be honest—ever since I recovered from the Valium fiasco, I’ve been living in fear and shame for getting back to working out. The entire time I was sick, the biggest concern I heard from others was about how much I exercised. Any time my friends and family would relay things about me to the doctors, there was always a “THIS GIRL WORKED OUT HARD EVERY DAY!” exclamation. And I always heard it in a tone that made it seem like it was dirty—like I was making a dumb decision to exercise and that it was what caused all my problems. I started developing in my mind that, despite what my doctor said, exercising was shameful and something only “overachievers” did. I realized that I was becoming known for my exercise habits and somewhere inside, I associated it with being that annoying friend that everyone avoids, lest she try to get you to do 24 manly push ups on command. I didn’t want that. I still don’t. And to be honest, even before it all, I DID workout, but it wasn’t every day and it wasn’t always with full energy. I had no problem modifying workouts to meet my level.
The truth is, I actually enjoy exercising now. I find myself going to the gym and walking out proud that I was able to do certain things that I hadn’t done in a while. I’m fighting to get my life back. I don’t want to get back into the habit of being lazy about my fitness. I want to get my muscles and my figure back. I want to be strong again. So I’ve been exercising regularly again and doing my best to eat more healthy foods (recovery time for me was filled with grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, french fries, chips, and cookies to aid in weight gain—but that’s another story for another post). Am I back to my ideal healthy diet and happy weight zone? Nope. Not yet. But I’m working on it. However, let’s get back to this fear talk. Since I didn’t want to be known as that girl who’s always working out, I stopped posting about it. I went and did the work, but I didn’t post about it. I would quickly change the topic when it came up in conversation and do my best to avoid it altogether. I’ve been ashamed of it. Yet, as I walk through this season of my life where I’m having to get real with myself and work through my fears and insecurities, I have come to a place where I don’t want to hide it anymore. If it makes me “that girl” or an “overachiever” or a “health fanatic,” then so be it. It’s a healthy choice I want to make for my life not just today, but years on down the road. Therefore, I believe now is just as good a time as any to bring back Fit Life Friday!
The issues with being labeled a “runner” goes back to a time when a dear Fit Friend of mine would constantly refer to me as a “runner,” after completing The Color Run last year. I smiled and kinda shrugged it off at first because when I think of “runner,” I think of HER—someone who enjoys running for the thrill and great feelings that come along with it. That didn’t really apply to me. I hated running . . . I still kinda do—we’ve definitely got a love/hate relationship going on. I just didn’t think that participating in one run would qualify me as a “runner.” Those folks put all their time, energy, heart, and soul into their sport and I kinda just did the event because it looked cool and colorful. However, with the recent news of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I felt a heavy hurt, pain, and sympathy for each and every one of those participants. That race was special for them. They trained their hearts and their souls out to get there . . . to join in with a community of other elite runners for a victory comparative to a Bowl Game. I mean, when I think of fighters—I think of runners. They are tough stuff and they go through hell and high water to reach their goals. In what should have been a day of celebrating the huge payoff, they were met with death, fear, and tragedy. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have been in the middle of it all. The fact that Bostonians were able to walk away from it a more united and hopeful community inspires me to no end.
I still don’t know that I would consider myself a runner (maybe if there’s a Rookie Runner status, I could go with that), but I still want to do my part because I do feel connected to this community. I follow a lot of great fitness blogs, so I get to see the behind-the-scenes of their training for 5ks, 10ks, marathons, triathlons, CrossFit Competitions, Olympics, etc. Their words have coached me along to reach my own fitness goals each time I was ready to throw in the towel. In fact, I was greatly encouraged by a quote that one of my fave bloggers, BLONDE PONYTAIL, posted by Kristen Armstrong of Runners’ World:
“Let’s instead do what runners do best. Let’s be strong. Let’s be patient as information comes in. Let’s pace ourselves. Let’s endure. Let’s close the gap and tighten up the pack. Let’s recover together.
The road ahead is long. But little do they know, we’re good with that.” (source)
It just really kept my perspective in check and left me hopeful for some good to come out of all of this. I hope I can be part of that good. This past Wednesday, I made up my mind that I’m not going to avoid running because it makes me a “runner.” I’m going to embrace it because it encapsulates my heart and spirit. We’re all fighters. We fight for justice. We fight to be strong. We fight to be the best versions of ourselves and have fun doing it. I walked into the gym on Wednesday in my Color Run t-shirt, with my head held high, proud to give 30 minutes of my time to pray for those affected by the tragedy during my tribute #RunForBoston.
It was an honor for me to be able to take time out to pray for them as I got in a good run. I’ll be lacing up my shoes again next Monday evening as I join the Seattle runners community in a tribute run to honor the victims of that tragedy. I’m also going to wear the Boston Marathon colors when I do The Color Run again this year. And while I run, I will be praying and thinking of all those who give (and have given) their time, energy, attention, and lives to health and fitness. I know it may seem silly to some. It may seem like a media ploy or a way to ease my own pain, but it’s not. It’s the only way I know that I can personally give back to a community that has given me so much during my own journey to reclaim my health. It reminds me that life is equally precious and fragile. Seeing those runners jet past the finish line and into blood banks to donate, or back into the fray to rescue victims made me proud to be an American. Even from such an incredible distance, they helped to heal my heart along with many others. This is the least I can do and I am more than proud to join the ranks of those fighters. Thanks to them, I am a runner. ♥