I’m not sure if other running enthusiasts find themselves playing defense on the topic of running, but I do feel like the statement that tauntingly hangs like a question of, “I don’t understand why you like to run” comes up one heck of a lot. Which yes, does not require more than a shrug in response, but always leads me to feel obliged to say something more. Which in turn always feels defensive. And really, who likes defensive conversation?
So I was having a conversation with a friend this past week, and he’d said something to the point of thinking it interesting that I like running so much (which made me want to say “oh no, trust me – it’s a definite love/hate relationship” but I kept mum), but I did say that the fact that I ran meant I felt way less guilty about ordering french fries at dinner. (Truffle fries, people). There was no way I was turning down an opportunity to have deep fried potatoes that also had truffle oil on them….unless of course I knew eating them was going to make me feel badly about myself.
And he said he knew the feeling, as he’d spent a fair amount of time at the gym that day and was also feeling like guilt wouldn’t be part of his meal plan. He then proceeded to tell me that one reason he went to the gym, and kept going, was because when he’d graduated college he’d weighed upwards of 200 pounds. And standing at over 6 feet tall this wasn’t an incredibly strange way to be, and he wasn’t “fat” by societal standards. Except when he took off his clothes, he knew how he felt about himself. So after college graduation, he made working out and eating better priorities, and voila, lost 50 pounds (that’s a quarter of his body weight!).
Which led him to say what might have been the best motivating quip I’ve heard in a long time:
“I just never wanted to have to take off my clothes in front of someone who I wanted to find me attractive and worry that I wasn’t up to par.”
That’s really not why I run. But for the next few weeks, it probably will be (along with the endorphins, time to myself, and enjoyment of the outdoors of course). And maybe, that’s the sort of cute, funny response we can have when people shake their heads and say they don’t understand why we’re jogging away.
*Yes, I know this says a lot about what is wrong with our society and how we view shape of people versus actual health. I know that. But I think it also says something about how people feel about themselves when they are working out, when they’re doing their best, and who they are when they give everything they can.