Like most of us, I have a complicated relationship with my body. Mine has too much fat, too much hair, too many aches and pains and general creaks. My knees grind when I climb stairs and my heart sometimes moves to a different beat than it ought to. My hip is sore and my forehead is continually pushing back my hairline. At the same time, this body bikes me to work and enables me to lift my kids up. I can carry heavy boxes and bins of groceries and walk wherever I want to go. In the past week I have realized that I love my body.
From “its complicated” to “love”
A couple of weeks ago friends of ours shared how they had used an app as a family to build up to running five kilometres (kms) (3.1 miles for you American readers). I decided to give it a try. I walk most mornings to get at least some exercise in my days that involve sitting at desks or meeting tables all day. I walked my whole neighbourhood many times over and was getting bored of my routes. So I figured trying out running might make things a little more interesting.
To my surprise I discovered that I can run. It turned out that I didn’t really need the app to build up to five kms over eight weeks.
Doing the impossible
When I was 18 I took up running for the first time. That lasted about two weeks. I experienced significant pain in the bottom of my left foot – such that I couldn’t really walk, let alone run.
I went to see my doctor – he was away. The doctor replacing him listened to my symptoms and asked me to pull my pant legs up above the knee. He took a look and told me that my right femur is twisted. He said the pain I experienced resulted from compensating for the way I ran because of that twisted bone. For 26 years I believed that the biomechanics of my leg meant I couldn’t/shouldn’t run.
Love my body – the running machine
Two weeks ago I started doing what the running app told me to do, run for a minute, walk for 1.5 minutes. I quickly realized I had the cardiovascular capacity to run for longer than the intervals dictated. I used the interval alerts as decision points to evaluate how my body was feeling and whether I should keep running or stop and walk.
A few days ago I abandoned that app and switched to mapping my run. Now I use geographic markers as decision points to evaluate how my body was doing. That day I went 5.3k with only a few shifts to walking to give my legs a break.
Today I went 8k with short breaks between 3k stretches of running. It felt amazing.
Testing my heart
As I wrote at the beginning of the summer, I have been having some heart issues. I had been experiencing regular instances of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). One day I had a rather severe attack which resulted in me going to the hospital in case it was a warning of something more significant. The tests at the hospital turned up nothing, no cause and no indication of a heart attack or anything else.
Since then I have done more than 20 blood tests, a stress test, an ultrasound of my heart and had an order for a chest x-ray. So far none of the tests have identified the cause. I am more and more convinced that my heart issues are stress-related.
I ran today while hooked up to a Holter monitor – electrodes and wires attached to my chest running to a box that to record my heart beat for two weeks. We are trying to catch instances of arrhythmia and potential causes.
I feel great when I bike to work and with rare exceptions I do it from spring when the snow is gone from the roads until October-ish. It is a short five km ride and not physically challenging. It is how I get to work and most of my focus is on avoiding potholes and drivers who turn without signalling.
Running is different. When I am running I am paying attention to my body. I am thinking about my breathing. I notice how my legs and feet feel depending on how fast I am going. I am aware of whether my shoulders are tight or my abs are engaged and how changing those things changes how I am running. It is just me and my body. There is no machine helping me along, no need to pay attention to drivers- , just me.
I love my body and how it feels when I am running.
My body is amazing!
For most of my life I have felt slightly or completely out of shape. As a kid I ‘played’ soccer. My parents used to joke about how I was ‘outstanding in my field’ because I spent plenty of my time on the field standing around. I have never felt athletic. I have always felt kind of fat. Taking my shirt off to swim, lie on a pool deck or beach has been an uncomfortable experience for most of my adult life due to the amount of hair on my torso – front and back.
The thing that running has changed for me is that I have discovered that for all the hair and fat on my body, I can do an activity that I thought was impossible. I can set goals to challenge my body to do hard things and I can accomplish and exceed those physical goals. I can do this in spite of the fact that my body isn’t lithe. I can do it in spite of the middle aged aches and pains. I can do it in spite of a misbehaving heart. I can even do it with a twisted bone in my leg.
I love my body.