Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us

Deena Kastor

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gettin' jiggly wit' it

While on vacation I was standing in front of a mirror in a motel room, naked, performing an inspection. Ladies, you know what kind of inspection I'm talking about. The one where we face the mirror to see what jiggles from the front, then we turn to the side to see how far our tummies are bulging out, despite how much we suck it in and try to imagine how easy it would be to take a hatchet to our butt and trim off the excess. What's a little blood right? Then very quickly we turn with our back facing the mirror and crane our neck around to see what we look like from behind. In our minds we think "is this what my husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner sees in the morning?" During my inspections you might often hear things like, "oh my god!" or "where did that come from?" or "how is that possible?" On this particular evening (after dinner of course-the worst time to perform an inspection) I looked at my husband and asked him if he ever looks at himself in the mirror. "Never" he says. What??? How can that possibly be??? Ugh, its so unfair.

Knowing your body well is an important part of being a good runner. Not a faster runner necessarily, or someone who runs more than everyone else and wins races- just a good runner. You must be able to recognize when you need time off or when you need to eat more or differently. A good runner just has to have passion and a true love for the sport-not the best shoes or a popular sportswear sponsorship. I think you have to know why you run or else you might not make it very far. That's probably the same for almost anything you do in life. Why do you do what you do? Say that ten times fast :) Seriously, why do work where you work? why do you wake up in the morning? why do you eat vegetables? why do you wear a seat belt? why do call a friend or family member just for the heck of it on some idle Thursday afternoon?

I ask myself why I run quite often. The truth is I have many reasons. What might be surprising to some people is that I do not run in order to obtain a "runner's" body. I have been running for fifteen years and I still don't have one so there's no sense in trying to get one now. By the way, if you have ever been to a local race or even a big city marathon, you will notice that there are  many different body shapes and sizes crossing the finish line all at once. Maybe the "runner's" body is a myth. I know that when I tell people I'm a runner the first thing they do is "check me out". As if there is some standard of body weight, height, or shape you must have before anyone will believe you are a runner.

So I have some body fat. I jiggle in several places. I don't have bulging, veiny (if that's a word), calves or six-pack abs of steel. SOME people would argue with me about this but my calves actually look more like Fred Flinstone's than someone who runs marathons. I definitely don't run to win which is totally confusing for some people. But I am a runner. And you are whatever you are, regardless of how much you jiggle.

For all you women and men who inspect your bodies- weighing, measuring, and pinching every inch of skin, bone, or fat you have-embrace it. Don't let anything  you see in the mirror stop you from doing what you want to do-whatever it is. If it's running you want to do, join me.  Put on your shoes, and get jiggly wit' it.


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