I ran three miles the other day.
Big deal, you might say.
I shelved my running for more than six months while I cared for my “broken back.” My back still isn’t in tip-top shape. But I decided that I’ve let it sideline my passions long enough. I dare say, I hope to strengthen my core by incorporating more exercise, which will benefit my back, too. And the running is my heart’s cry. I missed it!
It took me 36 minutes to run those three miles. I encountered no fewer than two dozen runners and bikers on the bike trail. They were all moving significantly faster and more smoothly than I was.
The old me would have been terribly concerned with what they thought. The old me would have pushed herself to the point of injury just to “prove” she was even average at running. I would have felt unworthy on the trail. In fact, 10 years ago, I stopped running because I couldn’t get one mile under 10 minutes. Foolishness!
The new me doesn’t care. Nobody on that trail thought twice of me and my running. They didn’t really know how fast — or slow — I was going, because they were concentrating on their own workouts.
It’s true that we spend far too much time fretting over what others think of us. We all bring our own history, stories, injuries and victories to the bike trail or the gym or the fitness class. Any step to care for ourselves the way our body needs us to is a victory, worthy of celebration.
In my yoga teacher training, we are taught that a person who is chasing their breath or moving beyond their “edge” who goes into child’s pose is an “advanced practitioner.” Why? Because he or she is acknowledging what their body needs.
It’s far wiser to give and do for your body what it’s screaming for, and many of us ignore its cues and signs. We look externally — at numbers like distance and time — to measure the worth of our “athletic” performances.
I’ll be me, and you’ll be you. It matters not how long my run took. I no longer care about the number, in the same way that I no longer care what the scale tells me or what my meal’s calorie count adds up to be.
Numbers can be a dangerous judge of how well we are caring for our bodies.
A far better gauge is how I felt — before, during and after my run. (It’s the same gauge for what we eat, by the way! But I’ll share more about that another day.) And it was an incredible morning to get back on that trail and pick up my feet after six months!