Saturday, 13 January 2007

Friday Philosophy: Are you a fit person?,24th November, 2006

Where does fitness start?

Glib answer: with the first step.

But it's a tougher question. Well, I think it's a tough question and one which has been bouncing around my brain for a few days.

Does how we perceive ourselves affect our training: do we train harder if we believe ourselves to be a 'runner'? Do we allow ourselves to devote more time/energy to "training" than we would if we thought we were 'just jogging'?

Do we perceive ourselves differently if we enter a race? For me I know having set goals helps me to plan my training. Now I might (if asked) say that I 'run'... it feels truthful, but it took me a long time to come to that conclusion. TheOther hasn't entered any races and that doesn't stop me seeing them as a runner. Their pace is different to mine but that's it; they train as many times a week and are building up their long run as it suits. Entering races doesn't confer any special 'runner' status in my eyes.

This line of questioning was prompted as I said something the other night about "fit people" (it was complimentary I assure you) and TheOther said, "but you're a fit person". Now, my first thought was, "aww bless". A bit like your loved one saying your home cooked meal tastes great when you know it was only so-so. I intimated as much. There was some spluttering and they exclaimed: "But if you asked anyone they'd say that someone who could run 10miles was fit!"

Now this really stunned me because, if asked, I too would assume that someone who could run 10miles was fit. But that's not how I see myself. I'm still a minimum (by BMI) of a stone and a half overweight and I don't feel like a fit person. But then, how would I know how a 'fit person' feels? It is out-with my realm of experience.

Is this all some sort of perception dysmorphia: Do I see myself as more unfit than I really am? But, in turn, does this help me to train harder and achieve more goals, rather than relaxing into my new found status? (Comparable to seeing ourselves as fatter than we are; this can be a state which isn't dangerous to our health - it just stops us reaching for the cake, too often.)

Most of these questions must have plagued new runners over the years but it's this mental side of running that isn't discussed very often. Race tactics and mental strength are often discussed but how we see ourselves - how we perceive ourselves is all too often ignored. My self-esteem has certainly improved through running as my fitness and body shape have changed. But my brain is still playing catch-up. I can't comprehend my level of fitness until I'm actually doing it. Is this part of the buzz? A true natural high of experiencing something you can't imagine.

Think Big - Run Big


I might go to the gym later but it'll be the usual stuff and not as interesting to write about as this lot.

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