Today was Race Pace Thursday, so I ran for 2.5 miles at 7.5mph on the treadmill set at level 1. This is an 8 minute mile and the speed I should aim at to do 10K in 50 minutes. I managed the 2.5 miles and was a bit out of breath at the end but not gasping, so hopefully should be able to achieve it. When I started the run some serious doubts set in - would I ever be able to do this? I told myself I shouldn't forget that I'm lazy, fat, a rubbish runner and that my flat-footed body would never be able to run 10K in 50 minutes. After all, I've never been one of those sporty girls. In cross-country I've was the chubby, wide one puffing along at the back, gamely trying to keep going despite needing to walk frequently.
But I didn't listen to this, I snapped back to 2011 and the gym with its AC on overdrive and sports on the TV and kept on running.
I'm reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin. Martin wanted to explore why eating disorders are so prevalent, endemic even, among American women. Through extensive research and in-depth interviews across America she comes to the conclusion that society plants the seed of self-doubt and anxiety in women around puberty that they should be perfect, and that this perfection is embodied, literally, in being thin. Thin equals control, respect, beauty. Thin is right, fat is wrong. A woman is split into the hypercritical perfect girl and the starving daughter trying to please her, goes Martin's theory.
Yet at every turn on the road toward being perfect women are faced by the obstacle of their very own bodies rebelling against them. Their bodies get curves, wobbly bits and they themselves have to battle their own hunger and desires. Their bodies are their own enemies.
Part of me just shrugs off the toxic desire to be a willowy size 8 with tiny feet because I will never be a 5'2" slip of a thing, nor will I be a 5'10" giraffe. I try to be realistic about my body. I have to admit weight loss is the main reason I started exercising, although now I do it to burn calories and because I enjoy it. I'm trying to focus on the enjoyment, although I still obsess about the calorie counter on the treadmill.
So why am I so terrified that I'm just kidding myself and reading this book to simply justify rejecting striving for being a perfect size 8 because I will never be 'good' enough to obtain it? Why am I beginning to feel that a 'perfect 10' is too fat? Why am I terrified that the rest of the world would never accept it if I weighed 10 stones and was pretty much happy with that ta very much because they think I should weigh 9 stones to be happy? Why, indeed, do I give a flying fuck about any of this?
I don't have any answers to this. I just hope one day I will find serenity.
I can't imagine not running. Guess what my strict machine is. ;)