Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Journey to Body Acceptance Part 2: Feeling at Home

I ran 4 miles last night.

I'm just going to let that stand on its own because I am SO proud of it. I don't really know why even. I feel like I did something really important though and I'm deciding to relish it.

However, I am simultaneously experiencing a rush of resentment towards my school PE teachers. You see, last night I met a goal that I never consciously set simply because I would have never believed I was capable of such a thing. I was just feeling pretty good when I got to the end of my third mile (I have a 5k coming up which is what I've been "training" for.) and so I decided to keep going and all of the sudden there it was. And I find myself thrilled, but very very angry.

I have been building up to this since April. If I remember right I could not even do a half mile then at a slower pace than I am running now. I've gotten here because I was patient with myself. If was hurting, tired, or injured I didn't run. I didn't go faster or longer until I was sure I was ready. And I was finally and honestly working out to do something for my health and for myself rather than pursuing the goal of making myself take up less space in the universe.

Running makes me feel great. It clears my head. I can tell that I've gained strength as well as speed. I have more energy during the day than I used to. Most importantly, I feel very at home in my body in a way I never really have before. (I plan to write more about this feeling.)

I'm just bitter mostly at a particular teacher, Coach J, for making me intentionally avoid running because I have found that I really really really enjoy it. Starting in elementary school Coach J would make us run a mile as a class. He clearly delineated what was a good time and made sure we knew anything less was unacceptable and was pretty effective at pushing the POV that anyone who could not achieve said time or better was somehow defective. There was no discussion of what running could do for your health, no starting benchmarks from which improvement could be made.Nothing. Just a whistle, a stopwatch, and an unnatural affinity for humiliating little kids. Among other bad behavior, Coach J allowed an ENTIRE 6th grade class to make fun of me for running slowly. I don't know what he was going for, but I didn't run again on purpose until my last year of grad school.

I guess our teaching philosophies differ. I think teachers are charged with providing safe spaces and opportunities for growth and learning. He thinks he should blow a whistle and be a jerk.

The sad thing is that I really believe that p
roper Phys Ed is important and can be a positive force in a kid's life. In a proper PE class I would have been TAUGHT to find and honor my physical comfort zone and provided with reasonable and appropriate opportunities to expand that zone rather than just being shamed and barked at.

Running has been so important to me. Meeting and exceeding these goals makes me feel so accomplished and confident. And like I said, my relationship with my body has improved dramatically as a direct result. I think this would be true as I progressed in any physical activity that I liked. Feeling like this would have been very useful growing up and him and others like him cheat kids out of that everyday. It's shameful and it really is putting a cloud of spite over my happy time.


melody said...

in case you haven't noticed, i'm playing catch-up on your blog after a few chaotic months with not much reading time...
i have been thinking for a while about trying to run. i am terrified of it. i have neuropathy in my legs that gets much stronger when i walk really fast for a long time, or if i run. but i also know a girl ('know' = have as a friend on fb) who also has MS and was in a wheelchair for years. now she runs 5 miles a day. she has promised me her old jeans (which are a size 12) once i can fit into them... anyway, i'm rambling. what i'm saying is, you make me really want to try running! i just might do it :) sometime...

Summer said...

:-) Aww shucks. I'm sorry things have been chaotic, (or hooray if the chaos was for good reasons) Maybe something like pilates or swimming would help you build up your leg muscles first in a lower impact way? I did pilates DVDs for a while and I think it really helped.
All I know about neuropathy is what google just told me, so please don't do anything that hurts you!