Every time I write the phrase ‘my body’, and ‘celebrate what it can do’ on this blog, I squirm a little on the inside. I’m totally aware that it probably sounds like I think I’m some kind of wannabe Greek Goddess of Sport (FYI, there was a goddess of Sport, and her name was Nike. And that’s where the brand-name comes from. Fact of the day for you).
This week I’ve been thinking about how sometimes your body just doesn’t want to play ball. Or any other sport for that matter. Karl Pilkington, the guy with a head like an orange, is receives much derision by Ricky Gervais for saying: “Does the brain… control you? Or are you controlling the brain? I don’t know if I’m in charge of mine.”
But I kind of know what he means… the brain and the body can feel so separate at times. Have you ever looked down at yourself and felt detached from your own body? Not literally detached, but you’re just aware of how many functions occur automatically in your body that you have no influence over. Or that you look at yourself and feel that your legs are might not do what you want them to do. They might rebel. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, or if I’m just revealing how much time I spend in my own head! I have lots of train travel to think about these things….
As you know if you’ve read one of my ‘OMG I love running and my body and life is a rainbow’ posts, running makes me feel strong and more in control. I know my limits, and I know how to extend them, which feels awesome. Yet on a very basic level, our bodies have innate and involuntary reactions and processes, showing that we don’t have complete and conscious control over ourselves. Example: I would absolutely love to eat my weight in chocolate, every single day, and be able to then:
- Not feel sick as a dog afterwards
- Protect my teeth from all that sugar
- Halt the increase in cholesterol
- Chase those fat cells from appearing on my thighs
But I can’t do that. My sphere of control lies in making smart choices about how much chocolate I eat, and then opting to exercise to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
And then there are the times I referred to earlier, when your body simply won’t play ball: things happen that you can’t control, stop, change or improve. It might simply be that you have the flu, and you’re chanting ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine’ when your nose is running and your head is foggy. Or it might be more serious than that, physically or mentally, and all you can do is ride it out and trust in whatever you need to treat it. These are times when it feels incredible that you can’t control how your body reacts. Sometimes, no amount of spirulina, quinoa or other super foods can help (Although, eating them still makes you feel like you’re winning).
In these moments, I really rely on running. Now, I’m not advocating running when you have a fever or anything, but when you feel like you’re an alien inside your own skin, I honestly find that going out in the open and running helps. This week, when I was feeling like this, I did a 9k run. It was really cold out – my hands were numb, and my nose was basically a giant frozen pea. I pushed myself until it hurt, and it made me feel good. In my experience, the pain of a stitch, the burning of the cold air in your lungs, and the weight of the tread reminds you of what my body can do right at a moment when you’re feeling crap because of whatever it is that your body can’t do.
Sometimes it’s much more of a physical challenge, sometimes there’s a mental barrier to smash, but about half way through, I can almost feel myself uniting again, and feeling familiar once more. In case you are wondering, yes I am on a train, and this is the kind of post that comes from a Friday night train journey! It’s a terribly wanky poetic way of saying that, basically, when you’re feeling vulnerable and don’t recognize yourself, running can kick ass and make you feel like a hero.