Running Taught Me To Trust My Body
My body and I have had a rocky relationship. When I was a kid, I broke my arm and it didn’t heal correctly which left me in pain and made certain activities difficult because it didn’t work right anymore. As I got older I couldn’t count on my lungs. I started having serious asthma attacks and was in and out of the emergency room and on medications that left me feeling at turns jittery and exhausted and made concentrating on school difficult. Then, as a teen, I couldn’t trust it to keep me safe. I was assaulted and my body shut down and I couldn’t fight off my attacker.
In high school, I watched as my mother’s body was ravaged by a particularly relentless form of Multiple Sclerosis. She went from being one of the most active mom’s I knew to struggling to get out of her chair and walk the few feet to the bathroom of our house, no longer able to rely on her body to handle the most basic functions.
When I was in college, the trauma of my assault and the stress of my mother’s illness caught up with me and even my brain couldn’t be relied on. I had to leave school early due to severe depression and anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In my thirties, my mother died, and I developed type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and I started going numb in my hands and feet. Initially, the doctors thought I might have the same disease that robbed my mother of her ability to take care of herself, and ultimately caused her to die young. After months of tests and waiting it turned out I had a herniated disk in my neck. My body continued to let me down, and I tried to distance myself from it by staying numb and covering up.
In short, my body wasn’t something to take care of. At best, it was an inconvenience to deal with, and at worst an enemy that kept betraying me.
The diabetes and the herniated disk left me with the decision to give up, or to work on my diet and activity. I decided I didn’t want my newborn nephew to have to decide whether or not to donate a kidney to his aunt. I started making changes with the support of a nutritionist and a therapist. Once I finished treatment for my herniated disk, I started Couch to 5k. I figured running had the fewest obstacles, all you needed were sneakers. I’m not sure if you would call what I was doing at first “running”, but I was moving regularly. I joined a low key run club and signed up for ONE 5k to prove to myself I could do it.
One 5k, and making friends who liked running and liked me too, led to more. I signed up for my first half marathon.