In a recent marathon update I talked about working as a team with my body instead of treating my body like a limitation to be overcome. I mentioned how working with my body instead of against it improved my performance immediately.
I got a lot of e-mails asking me how I could possibly improve if I never wanted to push my body, and telling me that the only way to improve athletic performance is to ignore your body and push past what your body thinks is possible. I disagree with that, strongly, so I wanted to clarify a bit. The only way that I know to improve athletic performance is to push beyond what is currently comfortable. I am definitely pushing my body, I just don’t think that’s the same thing as treating my body like a limitation to be overcome or ignored. Just like any physical challenge that I face, I never want it to be me against my body. I want it to be me and my body against a problem. Whether that problem is an injury, or whether I can get up that hill faster than I got up last time, or how to take another minute off my mile time. If I achieve the goal, make the improvement, cross the finish line and get the medal, it will be thanks to my body, not in spite of it.
While I’m clarifying things, let me say this one more time: nobody is obligated to be involved in fitness or sports in any way. Those of us who do enjoy being involved for whatever reasons are no better or worse than those who choose other hobbies or pursuits or no hobbies. The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is bullshit and it needs to die. We shouldn’t let the fact that other people impose their beliefs on us to keep fat people from being involved in fitness/sports, or from talking about it, or talking about the stigma that we face trying to pursue something that we enjoy, nor should anybody put us on a pedestal because of the hobbies we choose.
For those who choose to pursue athletic achievement it can definitely be about pushing, but it can be about pushing against barriers and goals and, at least for me, it doesn’t have to be about pushing against, or ignoring, my body.
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