I’ve been talking with my therapist about my body a lot lately. I’ve been questioning my right to take up space, my ability to feel beautiful, and my inherent worth outside of my corporal form. These things have resulted in a lot of stress and uncharacteristic obsessive behaviors over my “health and fitness.” The most ironic thing is, I signed up for a marathon before any negative feelings had surfaced.
I trained really hard—probably too hard—to prepare for the most challenging thing I could think of. In the middle of training, I felt that I had to do everything possible to be fully ready to run that far. In hindsight, I know I trained so hard because I didn’t believe that I could really finish—or that I deserved to.
Ugly doubts manifested themselves after I started dealing with some knee pain on an easy day just a few weeks out from the race. I felt defeated. I had done everything to prepare but had gotten myself injured. Because I completely considered myself an imposter, I did not rest properly and continued to push my knee more than was helpful. I was so concerned that my body would not be a “marathoner’s” body by the time my race came that I spent time swimming laps, doing yoga, and trying to run a mile or two all in a day. The result was a lot of tears and finally being forced to take a full week off before the race.
Although the course was harder than I had expected and I was in more pain than ever, I finished the marathon in 6 hours and 27 minutes. Running the race was an incredible and individual experience, but the aftermath was even more curious. I spent the weekend believing that I deserved to take up space. I did not feel critical of my body one time. I felt like I was worthy of whatever good thing came my way. The crazy thing is, I was still essentially the same person as I was before the race. I had just done something so monumental and challenging in my eyes that I decided to give myself permission to live a few days feeling worthy. It was all up to me in the first place.
I’m always learning that as humans, we are more than what we do. Finding out what that “more” is sometimes means putting ourselves through intense discomfort or facing impossible challenges. I’m not done discovering myself and I know I have more (even longer) distances that I want to run. However, I am so interested in putting my energy towards permission giving and taking up space and believing my power exists outside of any action. I would encourage you to do the same. Look at how you allow yourself to be in this world. Consider how much you do to “earn” your presence on earth and let go of it.