What Runner’s High?

8 Oct

We’ve all heard of this thing called the runner’s high. It’s that stage of exercise that generally follows the feeling of heavy exertion. It’s that break into freedom after feeling like you can’t go any further. It’s that feeling of infinity, the ability to keep on running forever. I’ve heard it’s great. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never experienced it.

I’ve tried to chase this so-called “runner’s high” in my younger years for its sheer legend, but I knew at a young age that running was not for me. In gym class in the fourth grade, each child was to do five physical tests– reaches, pull-ups, running the half mile, and two others I can’t remember. If the child did well in these tests, she received various levels of awards, the Presidential Award being the highest honor. I performed at the “Presidential” level for all of the tests, but running the 1/2 mile was my last test. Ultimately, I got the award, but not without a trip to the nurse’s office with symptoms of near-vomiting and near-fainting due to heat exhaustion. The only reason I pushed myself that hard was for pure determination, but I knew then that I hated running.

And then there was the dreaded beeper test. How I loathed the beeper test. For those of you who have never taken it, it was a gym exercise that I think was designed to test the endurance of the class. Basically, the concept of the beeper test is that every eight seconds or so the tape recording beeps. Each child is to run from one end of the gym to the next between each beep. Every eight rounds the time between each beep decreases. The children with the most endurance are, obviously, able to stay in the longest and run for the most amount of beeps. Some of the most athletic boys were able to keep going for up to 100 beeps. The best I was really able to get was barely over 20, and it was usually around 15. I hated this test because each time it would make me sick. I would turn beet red and would feel dizzy and nauseous. Worst of all, I was embarrassed to no end. It only reinforced my hatred of running.

Come college, I decided that I liked exercise and needed it. I knew that I was no speeding bullet, but I learned that I liked how I felt after a jog, even if it sucked the entire time and all I could think about during the jog was how I wanted to be done. Then about two and a half years ago, one day I was walking and I got a splitting pain in my knee. I could barely walk myself to my destination. It turns out that my shin splints from high school flared up from long-term strain on my IT band. I have never been able to jog for more than 20 minutes at a time since.

So, here is where the point of this blog post comes in. I gave up running, and to be honest, I am okay with that. I took up weight lifting instead. Sometimes I feel self-conscious when I say that I lift weights. Sometimes I wonder because I am female and small whether people will look at me like I’m weird for loving to lift weights. They never do, but I feel self-consciousness rising up in me anyway. Nevertheless, deciding to lift weights instead of jogging was a great decision on my part. My body feels good when I weight lift, and I actually enjoy doing it. For the longest time, I thought that running was the only legitimate form of exercise. Ultimately, I learned that it didn’t work for me, and I found something that works so much better.

My body is thanking me for the change. For whatever reason, I am not built with the body for running, but my body loves the weights. I love how I feel strong, how I feel toned. I have always had an athletic build, and my muscles respond well to the targeted exercise. So– the moral of the story is that one size does not fit all. I am not meant for running; my body has made sure to send me the signals. I found through trial and error what makes my body most happy. If I were still trying to force running upon myself, I would only be hurting myself, not doing myself real good.

If I have a philosophy about life, it is definitely that one size does not fit all. There is no one solution, no magic pill. We all need to listen to ourselves, listen to our hearts, our bodies, or emotions to find out what is true in us. Just because our doctors, or the news casters, or our gym teachers tell us that something is good for us doesn’t always mean that it is right for us. Ever wonder why there are hundreds of different diets out there that are professed as the ultimate solution to weight loss? It’s because there are hundreds of ways that people lose weight, and there is no one way that works for everyone.

Whether it is exercise or diet, you have to know yourself and do what works best for you. For instance, my mom says that she doesn’t feel full unless she eats something full of protein, like eggs. I oftentimes feel full on just fibrous vegetables, but that is just a difference between how her body works and how mine works. There is no value difference between our dietary needs– we are just different. The same can be true for how we dress ourselves. I admire people who accept their body type and wear their type well. I have a friend who has beautifully pronounced shoulders, barely any breasts, and full hips and thighs. She doesn’t have a “typical” female shape, but damn does she look good in what she wears! She has embraced her body type and has learned to work with it.

So, know thyself. Listen to yourself, and be honest with yourself. Don’t do something just because it works for everyone else. Do what works for you. Feel good.


One Response to “What Runner’s High?”

  1. Drew October 8, 2012 at 4:11 AM #

    This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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