I’ve pledged to walk my first half marathon. I pledged it to myself because when I have attempted this kind of training in the past, I’ve quickly gotten sore – too sore to run, and I give up. I pledged it because I’m more likely to do this if it isn’t incredibly painful. And I pledged it most of all because I want to be okay with taking things at my own pace, at pleasing myself and enjoying my body. I don’t want to fall into the trap of wanting to please others, or fitting a “should.” And it is really hard. I almost said harder than it should be, but the irony was overwhelming.
It’s so insidious, this drive to reach some nebulous ideal. Mostly it’s driven by advertising, but also some inner desire to be accepted, to gain approval. I find my brain sliding back towards it like an alcoholic towards bad liquor, knowing it’s no good, but finding myself with the metaphoric bottle in hand before I realize what I’m doing. If it’s not about how fast I’m going, it’s about how much I weigh, how big my butt is and whether or not people are laughing at me as they drive by. I sternly tell myself not to obsess about calorie counts and labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and yet it’s so difficult not to do that – it’s everywhere, ubiquitous judgement. TV, magazines, friends, family, people I love, people I hate, people I really admire, people I abhor. Everywhere, body judgement. And for me, it can spiral pretty quickly into self-recrimination. Trust me when I tell you that no one has ever said things to me that are as bad as what I say to myself.
I’m fighting this today and I don’t even know why. I was looking forward to my walk, but started beating myself up because I had to stop at the store before I got in the “prescribed” 30 minutes. Nevermind that I walked a solid 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back, or that I walked most of the time I was in the store. I didn’t do 30 straight minutes, and I didn’t do it faster than last night, so I didn’t do it “right”. I found myself counting calories from all my meals today and feeling panicky because it was more than it “should” have been. I freaked out because I’m not losing any weight, even though that’s not what this is supposed to be all about. And I started scaring myself about the 5 miles I have coming up on Saturday with the group. Can I do it? Why the fear? I did 4.5 last weekend. Why is another half mile so insurmountable?
So, shite day. Maybe it’s hormonal. I dreamed last night about turning down an opportunity to be launched in the space shuttle. In my dream, I equated it with death, and I wasn’t ready to leave my kids yet. I wasn’t sure I could handle the solitude. I was afraid. Maybe that set the tone for the day. Lots of maybe’s. What I do know is that I’m going to go to sleep, and wake up, and tomorrow will be a fresh day. It’s an “off” day and I’m not going to let myself be scared that I won’t go back “on” when I’m supposed to on Thursday. Because that damned voice is insidious, but so is my Zack de la Rocha response: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”