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Running, Self-Acceptance, and Embodiment

Running, Self-Acceptance, and Embodiment

Earlier today, I read this article by Anne Falkowski in Elephant Journal. In it, Falkowski explains that, for much of her life, she was insecure from her body and felt alienated from it, as if it were her enemy. Yoga, however, helped her to appreciate her body and to respect herself.

As someone who has struggled with body image, I enjoyed a similar experience with yoga.

However, running has perhaps had an even greater impact on my ability to appreciate my body.

I began running regularly when I was 13, before I developed body image issues. My father was an avid runner and, as a young girl, I would ride my bike with him when he went on runs. So I always associated running with those positive memories. I did not start running to lose weight. Instead, I ran because I loved it – and the same is true today.

Yes, there have been times in the past when I have probably overdone it with running, striving to be the perfect athlete with the perfect body. But I realize I am falling into destructive patterns anytime I feel I have to force myself to go on a run. If I’m not enjoying it, I know there is a deeper emotional issue I must address. Running is like a litmus test that helps me determine the nature of my current emotional state.

I enjoy many benefits from running. It helps me feel strong and healthy and, ultimately, it helps me to feel gratitude for my body. When I am running, the constant mental chatter stops and I am more embodied than I am the rest of the day. I feel my lungs fill with deep breaths. I feel my legs and my arms pumping. And I feel truly grateful that I have a body that is fit and healthy enough to do that.

 

Related:
Races to Put the Fun Back in Your Run
Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle: Tips for Runners
6 Yoga Poses for Runners

Read more: Fitness, General Health, Spirit,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

20 comments

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2:50PM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

ty

4:58AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

It's good for both our body and mind

1:40AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Thanks I run too - you feel good when you go furthur or faster than you thought you could!

8:28AM PDT on Jun 13, 2012

I have asthma.
For the longest time, I thought running was a big NO-NO for me. Too tough on the lungs. But I wanted to be fit, still, and I knew there were other ways. So, I kept on exercising, hiking, biking, dancing, etc. It got to a point where I was doing one of the toughest African Dance class at the school, which involved almost constant jumping and an inspiring-but-tough teacher yelling "dance harder!!!" all the time, for 90 minutes. I thought: "there is no way running is tougher than that"...
So, I went for my first, timid run. I was planning to run for 12 minutes... and I did 15. Nowadays, I run for 20 to 30 minutes. I learned to love it, but it was really an "acquired" love, nothing like the love I have for dancing, but I do love it. It's a kind of movement meditation for me. And it makes me SO happy to have this body that works well and that enables me to do all those things. I think about Terry Fox, probably my biggest inspiration for running, and I just feel good.

P.S. Dear Susan H,
I just wanted to let you know that I feel for you. Yes, breaking into a full-on sprint is one of the joys of human life. It's only natural that you wanted to share your sadness. I wish I could be there for you. May there be lots of new, fun projects in your life, lots of friends on your path, and lots of Health in your body. As for me, I'm sending you Peace and Love

1:16PM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

I used to jog long ago. I quite miss the good feeling.

11:55AM PDT on Jun 12, 2012

thanks :)

10:29PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Do whatever "exercise" that makes you feel good. Be it Yoga, biking,swimming, or just long walks, It all releases endorphins. Just do something...

5:58PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Thanks for the article.

11:59AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Mmmm. Though I truly understand the joy in running, I would recommend trying another exercise for that feeling. Running is quite hard on the body and can be more destructive than positive long term.

11:46AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

I found that I have a much better self-body imagines once I stopped listening to people who promoted one type of body being beautiful and what people want. I don't like running because I have bad knees. I would rather go walking or swimming, but not to make myself love my body more, but for the enjoyment of the activity. People are so hell bent on having the perfect body that they over work it and cause harm. I would rather pace myself and notice the world around me as I walk or enjoy the way the water feels as I swim, or whatever I am doing. I am glad this author has a positive mind-body experience from doing what she loves.

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