I finished a 5K this morning in 24:08. This is PR for me (by over 1:30); I placed fourth among women overall and first in my age group.
Why does my body continue to perform after years of abuse? It runs even when my mind is melting into a puddle of nerves. It’s almost like a machine at times – it doesn’t need to think, or process the potential outcomes (good race, bad race, injury, total embarrassment, etc) it simply needs to move. My body has been training for years to put in a competitive race time, and now it’s paid off. Why can’t eating be the same way – you put gas in a car it drives, you feed a body it runs? It can’t be this way because my mind interferes. When I’m standing at the gas station I never find myself contemplating exactly how many gallons are required to get from point A to point B. I don’t whip out a calculator to make sure I only have what I need and not an extra drop. Why then can’t I fuel my body with the same nonchalance? Why can’t I say to myself: you need this much fuel regardless of the distance you’re covering and the pace you’re maintaining? Why don’t I actually believe that food fuels runs and builds muscles? Why, despite my understanding of the science, do I convince myself that food turns into fat as soon as its swallowed? Why can’t I decide to care about myself enough to respond my body’s needs?
My body did something awesome today: it ran faster than it ever has before. While part of me is ecstatic by how I ran, the other part is perplexed and almost sad. My body went the extra distance to meet a goal I had set, yet the muscles that contracted thousands of times over those 3.1 miles didn’t know if they’d have the privilege of nutrients one their race was run. My tendons didn’t betray their pain until we crossed the finish line, they worry now if they’ll be allowed to rest and continue to heal. My heart that said “anything you ask, Mary,” as it pounded into action didn’t know whether that race would be followed by a trip to the gym. My body performed, but my mind still cannot wrap itself around the fact that a meal is not a reward for good athletic performance, but a prerequisite.
Here’s my answer to my many of the questions I’ve asked myself today: Just like I didn’t choose anorexia, I don’t think I can choose to shut it out once and for all. It snuck in and maybe it will have to be eased back out, one meal at a time. I can choose to manage it; by this I mean I can choose to eat even when I’m uncomfortable about it and I can choose to exercise responsibly. But I can’t decide to be fully recovered right here and right now. Just like running, recovery takes practices. I have to prove to my body that I’ll take care of it as I slowly continue to detach my mind from its tormentors.
I guess what I want to say is this:
Thank you for taking care of me – I hope one day you’ll trust me to do the same.