I participated in track for three years in high school. I choose to say “participated” as opposed to competed/ran/did, because that’s exactly what the experience felt like.
That wording has to do with one of the main stories I’ve been telling myself my entire life, especially now when I tell people where I work and why I love sports. I’ve repeated it so much, out loud but mostly in my head, that I’ve convinced myself it’s true and will be true forever.
I’m not athletic.
It’s not a death sentence. It’s not the worst thing to be. It’s just something that I wish I wasn’t.
Here’s the way I tell the story…I say it’s funny I love sports so much, because I’m the most unathletic person, and it’s all part of a giant inferiority complex I carry. I find athletes and their pursuits – dedication, overcoming adversity, sheer talent, graceful/inexplicable movement, creativity, attitude under pressure – very inspiring, and yet so out of my own realm of possibility.
Even in those years of track, when I challenged myself physically and mentally more than I ever have, at times I felt horrifically out of place. If it wasn’t for the incredible teammates and friendships I developed, I’d have quit very early in my first season. But that’s not how sports work, not when you have a great coach and people supporting you and when you figure out, at 17 years old, that being part of something bigger than yourself is pretty fucking great.
After those three years, I spent my senior year on the sideline after having knee surgery. Since then, over the past ten years of my life, I’ve gone through phases of physical activity. Gym four days a week, no gym at all, ballroom dance classes, walking everywhere and getting lost in London, sneakily gaining 30 pounds in college, losing it without really trying over the course of five years after college.
Which brings me up to now, a place where my diet and food choices are something I take pride in. I cook a lot, drink green smoothies, and am fueled by delicious, simple, wholesome food (and iced coffee and blueberries, depending on what day it is). The downside of this is my body has adjusted to this lifestyle, where if it’s not fueled properly – i.e. with pizza, too much popcorn, 11pm coffee and truffles, as it was yesterday – I pay for it, in not being able to sleep, heartburn and stomach cramps. This is the path I have chosen.
The fitness piece of my lifestyle is something I am ready to tackle. I have the fuel part nailed down, now I’m ready to drive.
And I’m ready to change my story. The “I’m not athletic” story. I’m spending the next six-ish months in Nicole Antoinette’s From 0-13.1 training program, learning to run again, proving to myself I can do something really physically demanding, and hopefully staying out of Stupid-Fucking-Injury-Land (Nicole’s phrase, not mine). There will be days where I am the hottest of hot messes, and there will be days I look fresh as a damn daisy because I just ran outdoors and DIDN’T HATE IT. I imagine it will be eye-opening, sweaty, emotional, painful, and an incredible test of my own discipline, but so completely worth it. I’l be sure to chronicle much of my running journey here, because even just signing up and reading through the training materials has me all sorts of inspired (and I haven’t done for a run yet).
Why? Because of my story. If it’s true, then whatever – it shouldn’t keep me from pursuing a life of movement and dance and adventure, as unathletic as it may appear, because no one really cares anyway.
But, if I find out it’s NOT true – if I complete Nicole’s half marathon training and a sprint triathlon in September and want to keep being athletic (!!!) – then damn. I’ll have some new stories to tell.