The Moral of the Story

I did something today I do a lot. I ran. I don’t run as much now as in my 20’s and 30’s, but I run. Today, I ran and, as usually happens after a little over a mile, I began to tire. Now some days I do better than others and run further before tiring, but eventually the entire jog becomes a trade-off between running and walking. Now here’s the thing. I have a certain protocol I seem to follow when deciding when to run and when to walk. Mostly I run when I see someone coming in the opposite direction. Why do I do this? The most obvious reason imaginable. I want to look like I’m running. I feel silly and old and unattractive if I’m walking in my running shorts all sweaty. So I run when people see me. Then after I pass them, I try to run as long as I can but I eventually stop and walk again. But the point here is it’s there seeing me that motivates me to run.

I was fat growing up. When I was around 19 I started running. When I was 26 I ran and dieted my way down to as low as 159 lbs. I was and am 5’ 11”. I’ve gained as much as forty pounds since though I may’ve lost a few recently. I haven’t stood on the scale lately. I can’t get myself to do that. I even wouldn’t let them do that at the doctor’s office.

So because I’m heavier you can understand why running is harder than it used to be. I could once run five miles as easily as taking a breath and could break a six minute mile routinely. Now no way. I mean, are you kidding? Sure I’m older but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is my need to let other people SEE me run as opposed to my need to run.

I cannot tell you how difficult it is to simply walk by someone on a sidewalk when I’m in the middle of a run. All I can think of is: “Well, they know you’re worn out, don’t they?” Basically, I’m upset that they obviously know I’m failing at something. I feel old and useless or ineffective or just plain vulnerable. I think it’s the latter that really stings because I simply cringe at the thought of walking by them and having to interact with them. Obviously I don’t HAVE to interact, but I feel that sense of something when they get close. It’s very difficult and I really really really try to run again before that happens. And then when I pass them I try to run for at least a block before stopping again. And then I’m worried about the cars driving by when I’m walking. What are they thinking about me?

What is the moral of this story? I care a lot what others think. Does this seem right to me? No. It doesn’t. I hear people talk about the idea of caring what you think of yourself, but that just seems so foreign to me, like it could never happen. I think sometimes that if I focused on what I thought of myself I’d have been dead years ago.


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