Running Up That Hill


During my Monday run I thought a bit to the few times I enjoyed running in gym class, which despite my high energy and general mobility, was a rarity. I don’t remember my exact age, but when I was in elementary school I realized I could run quickly, and I think at least one teacher did too. My joy found in excelling in something (school at that time was a miserable experience where I was bad at everything) I was stifled in a way I hadn’t anticipated. While running laps on a field day a group of boys formed a horizontal wall blocking my ability to pass them. Were they blocking me because I was a girl? Were they blocking me because I was already an oft bullied awkward kid? Were they just bored kids playing out the kid of systematic barriers we all experienced as poor kids in a poor district where shit just sucked? Most likely all three.

This memory lingers as a vague disappointment. I don’t point to it as the reason I gave up running. Bullying and childhood sexism were pervasive enough that I sort of folded in that experience into ‘mean shit mean kids did to me.’ Running played out quickly as a possible interest not too much later, after my first long distance run ended with me puking afterwards because I did not understand (nor receive training) on how to actually pace myself. Also I was already engrossed in ballet (which was a lot of my world from 5 to 15) at a school where Ms. Katz, my ballet instructor through the entire decade, warned against any other physically demanding interest lest it ruin my ‘dancers form.’

I have been running three years. Like any hobby, or good habit there are are stops and starts and pauses. Sprained ankles, wet winters, and weeks thrown for a late night concert all share the blame with my own lagging motivation, Running is great for the reason I got into it: you don’t have to buy a bunch of crap to do it (although I won’t pretend it is not a heavily marketed ‘hobby’) and you can go at your own pace. There is gross messaging around fitness, mobility, and the competitive nature of sports, but because running at 6 in the morning isn’t the same as thumbing through an issue of Runners World (which actually isn’t a horrible publication).
fitspiration and thinspiration is gross bullying equating a persons physique, mobility, and fitness with moral worth. At the same time (because the world is wider and far more beautifully complex than yes/no) I have to stop getting in front of myself. Excuses to not run now line up in front of me like those little boys. Running fills me with joy, my body feels better, my mood is better, meditation is deeper and my work is more focused. I need to get past all of the motivations for my excuses. The cultural noise, the self sabotage, the laziness, and the body hate.

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