Measure - Queer Girl Running Chapter 4
February 23, 2017
Average weekly mileage: 42.3
Weekly cross-training: 45 min spin, 20-25 min daily functional and core exercises at home
Average long run pace: 8:20-8:40 mm
Average tempo pace: 7:45-7:50 mm
Weekly rest days: 1
YTD mileage: 292
YTD elevation gain: 14,593
Average time spent running per week: 6 hours
Half marathon PR: 1:41:39
Number of race medals earned in the past year: 13
Number of episodes of running podcasts listened to in the past year: at least 50
Number of running books completed in the past year: 3
Number of friends on Strava: 46
You've all seen, or at least heard of, RENT. How do you measure a year? Or, more importantly, how do you measure a life?
I keep track of these statistics about myself because I'm some level of running nerd. Often I like this quality of myself, this part of my identity. But as I spend more and more time and energy, both mental and physical, pouring myself into this sport, I've been ruminating on what it means to me and how it defines me. What do these numbers say about me? What does it mean that I watch them closely, take pride in them, love them deeply and feel annoyed with them at the same time?
I love to run. It gives me confidence; it connects me with other people; it strengthens my body and mind; it gives me reasons to go outside, see my city, travel for races, take pictures for instagram, drink lattes with some of my favorite people; it is a way to force myself to leave my apartment for something other than work, to talk to people, to see the sunrise, push my limits, learn about myself.
It also hurts. It can take from my body as much as it gives. It can make my mind explode with noise as much as it quiets it. It can make me feel like a total badass, or it can make me feel weak and depressed. In a lot of ways, this sport is me. And I am this sport.
That is kind of a scary thought. I spend so much time thinking, talking, writing, reading, and learning about running that I'm actually afraid of who I am without it. Because sometimes I don't really know.
We all have elements that define us. We often choose them for ourselves- things we love to do become big parts of our lives, and that is good. Those things give us purpose and community and satisfy whatever human itch we have to do/create/attack something, some kind of goal or desire. But is it possible to be out of balance with how much of yourself is defined by one thing? When we measure too much of our identity against the metrics of a single pursuit, do we lose track of ourselves completely when, for whatever reason, our lives shift away from that particular self?
Recently, a running friend won the women's division of a marathon, coming in second overall. As runners often do (it's one of my favorite things about the running community), she wrote a race report describing her experience before, during, and after the race. It was one of the most captivating pieces of writing I've ever read. She described a sense of grounding in herself completely outside of this event. She wrote that she was the same person before and after the race, and found comfort and pride in that.
Reading her words really struck me, because I've been very wrapped up in my identity as a runner this past year. But I am also a friend, daughter, sister; I'm an informed and caring member of society; I'm a proud queer who is continuously figuring out what that means; I know some shit about food systems, agriculture and climate change; I love TV and any kind of pop culture featuring lesbians and I care about representation; I'm a reader, learner, writer, hiker, traveler, art appreciator, nanny, photographer, independent adult. It was refreshing and reassuring to read this friend's reflection because it made me think about not only how much running has changed me, but how much it hasn't.
I will continue to run for my entire life, and will invest my identity into it forever. But if and when something shifts- an injury, life circumstances- and it isn't as much of a primary identifier for me as it is now, it will be helpful to remember that I, like all humans, am multifaceted.
The journey to Eugene continues...