As a young girl, I was taught to believe that women in my family weren’t built to be runners.
Why? Because we all have large breasts is what I was told…Even just merely typing that “justification” now feels ridiculous. These days, I run 5 miles a day and have been a runner for the last 8 years. As a woman with a size E chest, I feel I have some authority to say, that no, big boobs don’t mean you can’t be a runner.
However, I believed it. I never even ran a mile until I was in my twenties. I resolved to believe that I was not built to be an athlete. In fact, for years, I yo-yo’d with my weight, my relationship with my body was very unhealthy and I believed that I would always struggle with these things.
I remember when I first made attempts to go jogging outside, I was immediately met with the debilitating feeling of being deeply ashamed of my body and feeling out of place. I was unable to run outside for fear of being seen, as the imposter I felt I was. I felt hypersensitive to my body jiggling and to anyone looking at me.
In truth, there was a lot going on for me beyond my body insecurities. I struggled with PTSD and depression. As much as I wanted be a runner, there was a lot more that I needed to address mentally and emotionally, as well.
I had to first overcome some of my trauma, shame and depression, at least enough to just get started.
What helped me? Meditation and reading Buddhist philosophy to become more objective with myself and understand how the mind works. I learned about neuroplasticity, which is the ability to grow new neural pathways in the brain and thus change your belief systems. I found therapists and went to support groups to heal my PTSD and depression.
I got better.
I healed enough to get started. And quickly running became a part of my healing protocol. Because of course, this was never only about running. Becoming a runner, for me, was more than just becoming fit enough to run, it help set me free. It taught me to be more attuned to my body and my breath, and it showed me how much these things are connected to the mind and emotions.
Most importantly, becoming a runner taught me to believe in myself and to reject the limiting, false beliefs that were given to me. They don’t belong to me and they never did. What are you holding on to that doesn’t belong to you, but you have made it so?
These days, I run along Lake Michigan with the sunrise and the biggest smile on my face every morning. It makes me feel powerful and alive to know that I am captain of my ship, and I can rewrite my story – I did rewrite my story. You can, as well.