Women have heard this phrase from the time of our first sex-ed class in the 5th grade. The phrase has been used in reference to many different things - Sex ('respect your body and save yourself for the right person'), food ('repsect yourself and eat sensibly'), exercise ('respect yourself and move your body')...and I'm going to speak about the latter.
In a post from last week I mentioned limits and on my ride/run training session yesterday I was really thinking about this topic. Respect for ourselves, for our bodies. Often time I find myself talking with my girlfriends and each of us has a gripe about our imperfect forms. How we would love somebody else's arms, abs, back, legs etc. We talk about our struggles with weight loss, no matter where we're at or how much we've lost thus far. We go on, self-loathing, over a bottle of wine accompanied by rich cheese and crackers.
And yet, we rarely give our bodies credit for what they actually DO. My arms may not be perfect, but they were perfect enough to comfort a friend through losing a baby. My shoulders were strong enough to catch the tears of my friends, whether they were tears of happiness or despair. My back was strong enough to help move friends from place to place. My legs were strong enough to walk a marathon, to run two half marathons, ride for 160 miles in a weekend and kept me standing when all I wanted to do was collapse.
I was thinking about all of this on my 20 mile bike ride yesterday and continued to think about it during the 44 min run that I had to do after the ride. Now, here is the other part of respecting your body. You have to respect it enough to listen to it. To know when you've depleted all it's resources and to know when to stop. Yesterday on my way out the door I wasn't feeling well. It was 100 degrees outside and I didn't have anything but water on my ride. I was only out for 65-70 minutes, but I knew I had to come back and do this run. Turning left at the end of my driveway I started to run, and had to stop after 30 seconds. I walked back to my driveway thinking that maybe I should go inside and finish my workout that night. But no...I know myself all too well and if I had gone inside I wouldn't have gone out that night. So I turned the opposite way figuring that 2.6 mile was better than none and I would get in 29-30 minutes.
I started down the block, tick-tock, tick-tock. Looking at my watch every 10 seconds to see how far I'd gone. I had to walk after one minute and 47 seconds. Okay, okay...no problem, I'll just do a run walk 2/1 split until I finish. Sure...I started and had to walk again in one minute. I would walk for no longer than 30 seconds. I made it a mile, up the long hill by my house and ran all the way down the hill, probably another three tenths of a mile. There was flat road ahead, no hills....but very little shade. And then on the turn up the next hill I had to walk again. I was still only walking for 30 seconds at a time...then I started getting the chills.
I ran across the street where there was a bit of shade here and there, anything was better than nothing. I wanted to run, I tried, but my body was refusing. My mind didn't want to stop and I tried to run again, almost to the park by my house...almost home...and I almost puked. Standing under a tree with my hands on my hips, less than a quarter mile from my house and all I wanted to do was lay down on my side in the shade. But I kept moving, knowing that I had to make it home, which I did and even jogged the last part, only because I knew it would get me out of the sun faster than walking. Fumbling for my key I was gasping for air, I had no water with me and all I wanted to do was collapse to the floor. Finally I got the door open and I threw all of my stuff on the counter - shirt, iPod, visor, sunglasses, took of my medical bracelet and threw it. Then I stumbled to the carpet and fell to my hands and knees, sitting there in child's pose trying to get air, all the while sweat was pouring off of my body.
I didn't listen to my body. I didn't prepare it enough. I didn't respect it enough to stop.
The point to my blog is that we should respect all aspects of our body. Love it, fuel it, push it and most importantly listen to it.