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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Definitions

First of all, I hope you’re all off to the start of a great week! I had the most wonderful time in the Hamptons last week/weekend and I actually have this week off too. I’m flying to Portland, Oregon to see family on Tuesday night so I’ve got two days to regroup, relax and catch up on everything I missed in the blog world while I was on the beach! At the top of my list was:

A tasty RAW wild rice recipe from the incomparable Gena

An awesome cross training workout compliments of sweet Melissa

A sad farewell to one of my favorite blogs

So much happened while I unplugged, but I love having some time today to ponder such things as raw rice, the elliptical machine and the reasons we blog.

The last point has made me think a great deal and it’s something I want to expand on for just a few minutes. I was sitting here reading and thinking I should have lunch soon (at 3:30pm). I then got nervous because I didn’t know what I wanted, and worse, why I couldn’t pinpoint a food. I wandered into the kitchen, thinking “what if I wait too long and I’m not hungry when it’s dinner time?” and “what if I just snack on some granola, or cheese, or a protein bar?” I could feel myself winding up tighter and tighter. I didn’t want to eat because I haven’t exercised today. I was ashamed that I haven’t done this week’s training run. And then, a little voice spoke up in my mind. Why on earth should I be ashamed? What is my true motivation for running? And why do I feel compelled to race?

I’m going to say something that I’d never let myself acknowledge until about 20 minutes ago. And it’s still rocking my world. I run to define myself. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fit in, to be part of a group. I’ve defined myself by what I do – I read, I run, I overeat, I study and get great grades. My entire ‘About’ page is a testament to my unquenchable thirst for a definition of who I am. Everything I do is to further define myself:

I run to…be part of the running world. I want to BE a runner because it is admirable and “good” and, I’ve always secretly hoped, will make me thin and desirable. I run to lose weight so I’ll accept myself more. I set time goals because I hope they’ll motivate me to eat better, weigh less and, again, make me thin and desirable.

I’ve been so afraid to lose my runner label because then what would I be? If I wasn’t a runner, I’d be out of shape, lazy, boring, average. Why do I have to be one or the other? Why can’t I just be a person? Why do I have to fit into some group? I have to stop running from the labels I had as a child – fat, nerd, geek, ugly. I’m not those things anymore. But I’m also not any one thing either. I’m no longer going to define myself. Instead, I’m just going to embrace all the things I love. These things bring me joy, but only because they make me smile right now. Not because they make me who I am.

I love running on a cool, crisp autumn day. I love the crunch of leaves under my shoes.

I love my husband, and his unfailing faith in me, and the Yankees.

I love turtlenecks because they make me feel cozy and comfortable.

I love hot apple cider, but am scared to make my own and fail.

I love listening to the same songs over and over…and over and over.

I love my eyes. Even though I need to lean about 4 inches from the mirror to see them, I love their color and depth.

I love reading books for hours at a time. There’s something sacred about the power of the written word, even if it’s in the form of a cheesy vampire story.

I love all these things, but they do not define me. I am not a runner, a skinny chick, a fat kid, a nerd, a failure or any other label out there. I am me. I am constantly evolving, learning, falling, failing, succeeding and, most importantly, loving.

What things do you love? Do you truly love them? Or do you embrace them because you feel you ought to, or that they make you who you are?

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11 Responses

  1. what an amazing post! such honesty. I tried for years to “fit in” and I never seemed to get in with the crowd –no matter what crowd that was. I’ve always been an outsider, and I’ve come to realize I like that most about me. nothing defines me anymore (and I’m not certain it ever did). I walk to the beat of my own drummer.

  2. Thank you for being so honest! It’s refreshing to see someone admit that they run to lose weight or to deal with weight, and it’s almost taboo to admit such a thing in some corners of the blogosphere. It takes a brave person to say it–and an even braver one to deal with those reasons in a neutral way.

  3. one thing i love is this post. how honest and thoughtful of you. i think that it’s so easy to get wrapped around the axle trying to pin yourself to one thing (ie runner, mom, accountant, etc.) that we neglect to really embrace the full package – better or worse – that makes us who we are. there are things that i like and things that i love. we’re all more than just the sum of these parts.

  4. This is a great realization and I think you should be very glad you had it. I mean, imagine if all those things you love really DID define you – how limiting! If you were defined as a runner, what would happen the day you decided you were perhaps a swimmer? The “runner” would have failed. Kudos to you for writing this post, because I think it contains many thoughts worth having – for all of us.

  5. Love this post – it was especially nice to read as I struggle with my running mojo at the moment and am experiencing that “am I really a runner?” feeling. I know I’ll always come back to it, but I’m in a valley right now and can’t get out. I keep thinking no one will want to read my blog because I’m not talking about running much these days or eating for that matter. I’m also sad that Kelly is leaving the blog world – I just read your blog and saw that and had to go over to hers.

    P.S. – once I’m back from Ireland, maybe you can help me find my running mojo again with a nice cool fall run?

  6. BRAVA!! How did you get to be so wise before you’re even 30?? I defined myself for years as “woman, wife, and mother” and loved being all of those things. Still I felt at times confined by my roles and labels. It has taken me years to realize what you have articulated, that I love these aspects of who I am, but they are not all I am and can be. Now instead of “defining” myself, I “describe” myself best with the following words: love and potential. So let’s celebrate what we love about our lives now and the excitement of knowing there will be more to love in our futures. Embrace life!

  7. I rarely ever run without a sense of “I’m a healthy living gal, I SHOULD!” And that is EXACTLY why I run so infrequently! But I do rollerblade just cuz I think it’s the most fun I can have on wheels, and I go to the gym because I genuinely love it.

    As an overacheiver, I’m prone to doing things out of a sense of “should.” That’s why I’m so glad I cut back on publishing socializing: for a long time, I did it because it’s what hungry young editors “do.” I really hated it, and I would never ever join the literary party set again.

    I read poems, lounge around as a homebody, watch opera, listen to indie rock, take long walks with my iPod, wear vintage shoes, and cook because I love them. Pure and simple.

  8. What a thoughtful, raw, and beautiful post. I’m also a runner, wife to a great man, and (newish) blogger and have checked in on your blog from time to time. This post really resonated with me as my husband’s recent cancer diagnosis (at 25) changed the way we defined ourselves: from active, “extreme” outdoor guides living in a great community of people to stay-at-home, unable to move much, isolated people living in his parents’ basement. It was quite the transition but it was also so needed for us as we learned that all those things that we’d held onto so hard had to be stripped away so that the core of who we are – our identity – could be revealed: beloved children of God with whom he is well pleased. How refreshing (and hard to experience)!

    So to hear your honesty is commendable; I really connected with why you’ve run and have been there myself. I think I’m always reminding myself that it’s not what I do or where I work or what I accomplish that defines me, but it’s who am I – a child of God – that can never be taken away from me. Thanks again for the post (and sorry for the ramble, but I had to share – your words struck a chord and brought it all out!). :) Perhaps I will lurk no more and begin commenting more!

  9. i love this post! i am into listening to the same songs over and over too – like the same ones for the last 33 or so years!

  10. I love this post too. I recently (while running!) decided that my new goal would be threefold: Do things that make me happy, spend time with people I love, and not be so hard on myself. Your post spoke to the place in my head that I was at when I decided that goal. Thank you for taking me back there!

  11. What a wonderful and insightful post! It’s so true that running and other activities are more appealing because of how others view them. Sometimes it can be so hard to separate true, unbiased motivation from societal pressures.

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