Fair Warning: If you aren't someone who runs long distance, it's possible you could read this post and think I'm completely bonkers. Just know I am not the only person who does this...trust me, okay? I'm not crazy...well, I guess you could say I am crazy for running long distance in the first place in which case....oh forget it. I fully embrace and own my craziness.
While I was running my 18 miles this morning, I was playing a lot of mind games with myself in order to help me push through. I've done this a lot since I started running 6 or 7 years ago, and it's one of my favorite things to talk about with other runners. In part, because I like to gather new ideas for future runs but also because sometimes it makes me laugh....here are a couple of my favorites:
-"If you make it to that tree, you can walk a bit" and when I eventually make it to that tree and feel better than I thought I was going to: "If you make it to that lamppost, you can walk a bit" etc....
-While doing a loop, every time I turn a corner I threaten the next road I'm headed towards: "Alright Broadway, I'm coming for you" or if there is a particularly hard hill: "You think you're better than me, asshole?"
...and my absolute favorite from my friend Shawn:
-"Speed Limit 35? Woah, you'd better slow down buddy, or you'll get a ticket!"
This morning I did Bobolink Trail out and back as part of the long trek and as the sun was coming up, I found myself running through clusters of sunflowers. They were all facing the rising sun behind me, waiting to greet it and I pretended they had been waiting to say hello to me, so I waved.
My friend and running partner Patty joined me for the last 5 miles today. Patty and I ran together all this last year. We got each other through the cold, dark winter and I am so grateful to be her friend. Unfortunately, she is moving in a couple of days, so this was our last run together. I decided to arrange it so we could do our trusty everyday 5 mile loop. When we met up, I almost immediately asked Patty to pretend I hadn't just run 13 miles. I wanted to trick my brain into thinking we were just on our regular old run. She was game, and it worked like a charm. Before I knew it we were done.
I've tried similar mind tricks when it comes to accepting my post baby body. 2 of the strongest are:
1) I imagine myself on my death bed, thinking about my life as a whole. If in that moment, I decide over 50% of my life was spent worrying about my body I'm going to be seriously pissed at myself. I know I am.
2) I imagine Zoe going to middle school and high school. I imagine all the other influences that will be present in her life at that time and how many of them will push the "skinny agenda". I know that her best ammo against those terrifyingly powerful influences will be the messages she gets at home on a regular basis. I'm determined to never falter on this one and embody the "everyone is different and beautiful in their own way" and "some people have a baby and their stomach flattens out again, and some people's stomachs just stay stretched out" agenda. Man, that's easier said than done sometimes though. For instance, I've been struggling lately because this month, 2 people in the span of 2 weeks asked if I'm pregnant. It got to me. It got me good.
Then, when I was getting ready for the day ahead after my run this morning and still in visualization mode, I took a moment to look at myself in the mirror before getting dressed. I looked at my belly and didn't let myself immediately look away. I looked and looked and didn't look away.... I don't know where the thought came from, but I started to imagine my body as an underappreciated partner in a relationship. I imagined my body saying: "I'm allowing you to live a full, healthy life. I grew the children you adore. You used to smoke, drink and take drugs and I stuck around and stayed strong. You are 36 years old and you don't have back or knee problems. I withstood 18 MILES this morning, and you STILL don't find me beautiful? Come ON wake up! What more do you want from me?" I was shocked at the clarity and truthfulness of my next thought: "I'm sorry, you're right--thank you. Thank you. Oh my gosh, THANK YOU!!"