Happy Monday, internet friends!
I recently wrote about my mixed feelings
regarding the postponement of the 2020 Flying Pig Half Marathon. As much as that particular goal has begun to loom menacingly in the ever-distant future, I do
That race day crowd spirit and enthusiasm is what made me fall in love with running, and even as the sport has become something larger for me, I always try to get back to that energy at least a few times a year. Usually, I run a couple of 5Ks, which is a nice, fun, manageable distance for me personally. The last race I participated in was the 2019 Turkey Trot here in Pittsburgh, and it was a lovely redemption race after a really difficult time at the Great Race 10K.
|My Turkey Trot 5K getup
I’m always my most motivated, my most excited to lace up my shoes, when I’m training for a race. I love the way it feels to come home from a run, particularly one of those rare blue moon runs that feels amazing during as well, but there’s just something about training that really hones in on the notion of process and progress. Of course, this year, that’s looking a bit different for all of us. Runner’s World and Women’s Running are full of stories and guidance around how to stay motivated without races on our 2020 calendars.
Naturally, virtual racing is taking its place center stage in these conversations. I’m not new to the concept, being a member of the Potterhead Running Club
, which consists of exclusively virtual running and racing events. It’s interesting to watch folks discover this idea for the first time. Opinions are mixed, to say the least. I’ve seen a few angry tweets wondering why someone would pay to run a virtual race.
And, hey, to each their own.
The crowds at bigger races are for sure a part of the fun, a chance to feel part of the larger running community. But it’s also fun to chase a goal, train for a goal, watch yourself get stronger.
All that to say, I’ve picked my first non-PHRC virtual race event. Ever. The Badassladygang Sports Bra Squad Day 5K
I was so excited when Kelly Roberts announced this series of summer runs, complete with training plans and exclusive finisher buffs. I’ve been following her guided runs throughout the COVID-19 weirdness, and they’ve been a weekly highlight. I look forward to my run pep talk and speed work. Naturally, the prospect of following a full training plan with similar coaching techniques had me racing for my wallet as soon as registration opened up.
Not only am I excited to be part of a group of women training towards a common goal, I’m excited (and terrified) about the prospect of running a (solo) race in my sports bra. Like oh so very many of us, I’ve struggled with my relationship to my body since I was old enough to know I had a body. As someone who hit puberty early and spent several years towering over her classmates (not to mention being the only one with boobs), I’ve never quite recovered from the idea that I simply take up too much space.
When it gets hot, I am oh so tempted to take off my shirt and run in my sports bra, but the thought always triggers the worst kind of self-talk. On a few good days, I have managed to run in a sports bra, but it’s still not something I’m comfortable with.
These days, this reality has become an even more complex field of spiraling negativity that goes a little something like this:
First, I think “It’s so hot. Ugh, I should take off my shirt.”
Then, I think “No, I’m too fat. I can’t handle seeing my stomach for the rest of this run, let alone anyone else seeing it.” .
Then the whole body positivity movement rushes in, and I think, “Ugh, I’m not supposed to feel bad about my body. Why can’t I just love the shape I am? What is wrong with me?”
So, I decide I should run in my sports bra. And repeat.
I don’t think running a full 5K in my sports bra is going to magically solve the complicated relationship I have with my body. But I do think mindfully training towards this goal will give me a lot of time to dig deeper into those thoughts, investigate how I can reframe them and move, as Coach Kelly says, from negative self talk to accurate self talk.
Not “I’m too fat” but “I’m having the thought that I am too fat and that I owe myself and the world a certain shape of body.” And then try to meditate on that while I run.
Not “Ugh, I’m not supposed to feel bad about my body” but “Now I’m experiencing guilt because people on the internet say I should just learn to love my body, even though years and years before that, I was told I should always want to make it smaller.” And meditate on that.
Runs are this beautiful time alone with your thoughts (and your playlist, if you run with music like I do), and I think there’s a real opportunity to get to know myself a little better along the way. Here’s hoping, anyway.
Our training began today, and I’m excited to get back to a regular training routine. Even more excited to take on getting stronger running a distance I know I can run. As much as the scary distance of 13.1 excites me, it’s a terrifying unknown. 3.2 miles, though–that I’ve done. Hence, the goal of upping that mental game this time around.
This morning, I went for the prescribed 30-minute walk, coffee in hand, and then tackled my first ever strength training session. I am so excited to go on this journey with the community of other women who’ve taken on the challenge. I love this strong community of badasses.
I am ready to train. I am, I hope, ready to run in my sports bra and show the world (or, more importantly, myself) that “health is not a look, it’s a lifestyle.”