This post is a long time in the making. Like, two years long time and, honestly, I’m still not sure it’s going to see the light of day (of course, if you are currently reading this, it obviously means that I decided to hit “publish” after all).
If you have followed me on social media for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t really talk about running. Specifically, I never talk about running. I don’t post race photos online, I don’t share times or splits on Facebook, and I never blog about it. That podcast I used to host about running? Hasn’t been updated in years and you probably can’t even find it anymore if you tried.
That’s because I’m not running and haven’t run in a very, very long time. When I do sign up for races, like the Christmas Story 5K, I walk them. Which is somewhat awkward, given the whole I wrote a memoir about running thing.
When people ask — and they inevitably do, what with the whole book and author talk thing — I’d sort of make vague allusions to upcoming races and recent runs. Or I’d cop out and say “Oh, sure, I’m still running, just not as much as I used to.” But I wasn’t and I hadn’t and I don’t really remember the last time I tried.
And I have tried, many many times. I’ve written out training plans. I’ve redownloaded the Couch-to-5K app numerous times. I’ve charged up my Garmin and laced up my shoes and gone out the door.
Hell, I had a training plan for the Christmas Story run and fully intended to run that race. But, like with every other time, the enthusiasm lasted a day or two, a run or two, and then I hit a wall.
Which circles back to the reason I’m not running:
Right now, running is too tied to diet culture for me to participate.
When I first stepped on the treadmill way back in February 2012, it was in order to lose weight. And I continued to run because I continued to lose weight. Running was exercise for weight loss. It was a fitness activity I did for weight loss. When I changed my dietary habits, it wasn’t just for my running but also for weight loss.
I have no fucking clue how to separate weight loss from running and because weight loss fucks with my head, running now does, too. Other fitness activities aren’t quite so entwined with diet culture, which is why I still spin and do yoga and all of that.
But not running. For me, running and diet culture are like peanut butter and jelly. Like when you press down the top slice of bread and the jelly and the peanut butter get all smooshed together and there’s no fucking separating them at that point. From then on, no matter what, that peanut butter will always taste like grape jelly.
And so, I don’t run.
Which is ……. complicated when you wrote a book about it. I honestly kind of hated going to author events for Running with a Police Escort because I felt like a fraud and a failure. Like I had no business being up there talking about running because I was no longer a runner.
That’s not what readers want to hear. With the way the book ended, in a freak accident due to tripping down the stairs, I wanted to be able to provide some inspiring ending after the fact. People want to be inspired. They want to believe that you overcame the injury and crossed the finish line of the race and kept the weight off and made some triumphant recovery. I didn’t.
The thing of it is, I miss running.
I miss how it made me feel after a really good run. I miss the sensation of accomplishment when I complete a race. I miss my running friends from Cleveland Marathon Ambassador group. I still have dreams and goals of following the blue line and crossing the finish line at Akron.
I just cannot do it. Not now. Not yet. Before I can truly embrace running again, I have to first figure out to separate the jelly from the peanut butter and I have no fucking clue how to do that.
Diet culture has destroyed my relationship with running.
This weekend is the annual St. Malachi Race and for the first time in seven years, I won’t be there. I won’t be decked out in all of my green, lining up outside the church, ready to rock it. I know walking is always an option, and that’s what I’ve done the past couple years, but I just can’t. Not this year, at least. This race has such a special place in my heart, I have too much emotionally invested that for my own sense of self care I have to bow out (which is unfortunate, because the paperback edition Running With a Police Escort comes out in a month and in the afterword — written in November — I mention I’d most definitely be running St. Malachi. Awkward.)
No, this year I’m going to wake up and put on my brand new Ursula-inspired swimsuit and go to the aqua aerobics class at the YMCA. Because, I mean, if you’re going to buy a swimsuit inspired by one of the best Disney villains of all time, why wouldn’t you take it for a test run as soon as possible?
Fatventure Mag, the website I have an online column with, just announced the Kickstarter for their second volume! Fatventure Mag is a really important publication that challenges toxic beliefs about fat bodies and shares stories from fat women and non-binary individuals who have active lives separate from diet culture. I’m really happy to be part of the team and would love if you would consider making a pledge to their Kickstarter.