Who decided that only those with Instagram perfect bodies get to hold the mic on this one?
From couch to marathon
Maybe it’s a classic case of imposter syndrome in fitness. Maybe I am the only early 30s mom just trying to get through the day with a clear-ish head and, occasionally, buttoned pants. I suspect that I’m absolutely not.
So this is why I decided, on a whim, five years ago that I would hit that button and sign up for a marathon. I know myself. Had that first race been a 5k, it definitely would have been wung (winged?) and there would have been zero growth (shrinking) that would have come from it. Now, I’m absolutely not bashing that distance.
A 5k is every bit as hard as an ultra when you race it. Read that again. It’s the honest truth.
I just needed something different. I needed something that actually resulted in the death of the first person who tried it. I needed to be so afraid of not training that I could actually motivate myself to untangle my headphones, lace up my shoes, wear spandex in public, and train out under the
clear blue all conditions sky. The marathon was the move for me.
Ultimately, it worked out! I dropped some of the belly fat I kept calling “baby weight” years after my youngest was born. I donated all of my frumpy maternity clothes. I found actual peace out on the road. I ran. I raced. I fell in love.
Then the race was over and I was left feeling like something else had to be next. What was it?
Enter: imposter syndrome in fitness
Well, here we are all these years later and I can tell you what is on the menu in this season. For now, I’m all about that triathlon life. It has just enough variety to keep me interested. The Ironman scares me enough to be exciting.
But hear me: I’ve tried everything. I’ve let a trainer get to know my weak will. I’ve done the WODs. (It turns out that I do even lift, Bro.) I’ve done trendy and traditional yoga. I’ve OrangeTheoried. I’m currently playing with Stand Up Paddleboarding. I’ve done it all.
What I haven’t found is the power that I need to back away from the fork, put in the work, and magically achieve that level of “fit” that might make other people comfortable about my confidence around what my body can do when I ask it to perform.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Sometimes the whispers get a little louder. “Maybe I’m not really an athlete? Maybe I’m a fraud?”
Those whispers are liars. Bold faced liars. This is how imposter syndrome in fitness creeps in. Comparison.
So Can I be part of the conversation?
When I started talking about creating a corner of the interwebs for me to pour out my thoughts on parenthood and societal expectations, I got the insta-nod from my ultra supportive family. It was when I tossed in the F Word (no, not the one I normally use. That won’t be making an appearance here, sadly) that I got the side eye.
“I don’t think people want to hear about fitness from someone who isn’t…well…you aren’t really an athlete or anything.”
Hold. The. Phone.
These are my people. My biggest supporters. My Fans. If they are giving me the polite but concerned brakes, then what would people who don’t love allllll this think of my input?
But wait! Isn’t this exactly why I’m qualified to talk about it? I’m decidedly not naturally athletic. I’m shaped a bit like a pumpkin on sticks, my race times place me solidly in the mid-back of the pack, and let’s just say the Lululemon isn’t knocking down my door to get their pantaloons on this fine specimen.
But I don’t quit. I cheer on those those sprightly moms as they run by me at 3 minutes/mile faster than I could dream of while I’m pounding it out there on my community sidewalk. I taste all the nasty (ahem…deliciously sweet) race foods to try to just keep turning my feet over. Then I wake up and do it again the next day. I’m training between class meetings and grocery shopping and arts & crafts help. I’m picking myself up after a humbling finish in a seriously hot race and I’m getting back out there. I’m out on the course trying so hard that I miss the photographers that everyone around me sees.
Friends – I’m trying. I’m trying and failing and trying again.
Is that fitness? Does that mean I can use the word without everyone declaring that I’m an imposter?
I don’t know. But like everything else that scares me, I’m going to give it a shot.