Leave a comment

This is definitely still my body

Two runners are seen from behind running down a major road in a city.

Today, while run­ning, a pecu­liar thought crossed my mind. Although, at first, it was­n’t real­ly a thought but more of a feel­ing. The thought came a lit­tle lat­er, but it hit me like a ton of bricks: my body no longer feels like an ath­lete’s body.

I’m not refer­ring to the impor­tant and legit­i­mate debate about body images and body pos­i­tiv­i­ty, nor am I talk­ing about the often-cit­ed phrase, «Every body is a run­ner’s body.» It also did­n’t feel like one of those dis­or­ders where peo­ple feel as if parts of their body, or their entire body, no longer belong to them. No, this is def­i­nite­ly still my body. It’s just that it has changed, due to the pan­dem­ic, injuries, and breaks from running.

Just a few months ago, it was nat­ur­al for me to think about marathon per­son­al bests and ultra-runs. But today, this thought dom­i­nat­ed my mind: this is no longer the body of an ath­lete. Instead, it feels like the body of some­one who just enjoys going for a casu­al jog from time to time. There’s noth­ing wrong with that — in fact, I see peo­ple like me every day on the streets, in the park, or by the river­bank. I greet them warm­ly, feel­ing con­nect­ed to them, as we all belong to the same tribe of peo­ple. Yet, this real­iza­tion fright­ened me.

I know that I only recov­ered from COVID-19 three weeks ago. I’ve been con­scious­ly eas­ing back into train­ing, grad­u­al­ly incor­po­rat­ing strength exer­cis­es, run­ning slow­ly, and not attempt­ing any long dis­tances. I’m ful­ly aware that run­ning can’t feel the same as it did six months ago — and I did­n’t expect it to. This makes me even more curi­ous about what has specif­i­cal­ly changed, but I still can’t find an answer.

These thoughts don’t bring me down 

One thing I can rule out is the much-dis­cussed midlife cri­sis. I might even be the right age for it, but I’ve already gone through the phase of buy­ing a new bike, col­or­ful run­ning clothes, and a set of ket­tle­bells a few years ago. I’m also very aware that our bod­ies change with each pass­ing year — and they usu­al­ly don’t get stronger. These thoughts do occu­py my mind, but they don’t bring me down.

Instead, it seems to be more about some­thing relat­ed to iden­ti­ty. The image I had of myself, which was, at least when it came to run­ning, close­ly tied to my body, has been cracked. It might even be crum­bling a bit here and there. An intrigu­ing chal­lenge will be to find the glue and paint need­ed to repair, com­plete, or even redesign this image in some areas. I hon­est­ly have no clue how to accom­plish this yet.

But there’s one thing I’m sure of: I will keep run­ning. No mat­ter how fast, how slow, how short, or how far. And through it all, I remain stead­fast in my belief that each step I take brings me clos­er to embrac­ing the ever-evolv­ing jour­ney that is both my body and my identity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *