If you’ve ever watched a runner, really watched them, then perhaps you’ve glimpsed the shine of his steel mentality, his underlying iron will. And if you have ever run, or had such an intricate passion for an act that draws its beauty from the amount physical and mental energy infused, then maybe you can empathize with me as I attempt to verbalize what is requisite.
There must be discipline, there must be determination, and there must be desire…something must be wanted, something to gain, to fuel one’s drive toward whatever it is they wish to achieve. In running, the physique of the mind at first precedes all others in importance, until perseverance brings the bodily strength which affects the attainment of said desire. In short, a runner must want to run for himself, to better something in himself, psychologically or physically… and if you’ve ever watched a runner, you would see that therein lies a burning self-portrait of anguish and pain.
Transfer this vision to that of a human form bent shaking over glinting white porcelain, trying to stifle their sounds as the tap water runs and their body heaves. Finally a white knuckled grip loosens slowly as the face and hands become flushed again, like the water as it carries away any evidence of the teenager’s flickering self-esteem. She pushes herself up off of her knees, depleted and trembling but also more content with herself than she was with the lack of emptiness in her stomach from moments before. Raising a hand to wipe the acidity from her mouth, she peers into the mirror to see what so many thousands of boys and girls are horrified of; fat, and wrongly placed bulges and curves that distort any hope of a sleek hourglass shape. But she has flipped again and the sand runs silently until the next time that she may touch food. Turning to the side she notes the pouch that remains on her abdomen but knows that she has just taken another step toward the body that she desires. The fingers that were just in her throat reach over to turn off the faucet.
She is a runner that has taken the easy route, and the route easy to criticize. Her stride is reflected with every heave. For her, calories lost are calories lost, any way possible. And with every small accomplishment she gains a little piece of that which she longs for. Bulimia nervosa is the disease that she embraces along with whatever pains, fasting induced or not, may come of it. She surrenders in the name of perfection, one-ten. Pounds that is, the weight she fights to achieve. Throat’s constantly raw or sore, and she brushes her teeth at least four times a day, or however many times that she must eat to fake stability. All the better for the whitest smile possible to fool as many people as she can, to pretend that she’s fine, even as the enamel is eaten away behind it.
This is the issue, and its seriousness is by no means to be understated. Obesity and even inactivity are the insalubrious causes, abound as they are in our time especially. Obviously, bulimia and anorexia nervosa are certainly worse alternatives, but nonetheless resorted to by countless people who seem to think that they have nowhere else to turn. But, there is a solution to the mild crisis tearing through the mentality of so many teenagers and even younger children of our generation; take to the road, to the parks, to the track, with a pair of trainers and an aspiration to be healthy.
One might ask if any sport might be the answer, and not just running. I say not so much. Why? One who is dedicated to running or merely not willing to give up will see no more effective activity for the body as well as the mind. To run is to epitomize strength on both fronts.
Along with chasing down self-satisfaction or escaping the reach of inner doubt, running can also be the means by which to obtain relationships and new beginnings not only with yourself but with others. Bonds formed in a team slowly spread, webbing each member to the next and the connective threads reinforce an inner trust that lies not only within oneself but even more so with others. The team, especially one smaller in size, quickly grows closer and creates an intimately woven net of self-support. Your team members become good friends, even another family, and so is another possible benefit of running, and sharing the experience with others on track, cross-country, or just as a apart of a club.
The girl and all others like her are runners; they just don’t know it yet. They have merely taken the easy route, the route easier to criticize. Especially in the long term, when they might finally feel as though their noxious pursuits have ended in hard-earned gratification…because then it starts from all of those whom they love, relentless questioning and endless worry caused by a staggering weight loss, now extremely noticeable. But they all have hope, even at this point, if they are willing to transfer their desires to the end of a much more beneficial path. These boys and girls, even men and women, accept the pain of sacrifice to realize their goals, ranging from a specific weight to any mental restraint that they believe will better themselves. The burns and aches of hunger eventually come to mean something close to pleasure for them; they revel in it and the success that they think they’re working toward. But these discomforts can be easily replaced with the physical challenges of running, because even while the pains that accompany eating disorders are of a different kind and a detrimental one, their objectives are very comparable to the ones that are often placed on the struggles of fighting through a long run or a race. The mind of one who desires will accept the punishment of running as another form of release, or improvement, but every step toward the bathroom with be replaced with a stride in the right direction.
Through running we can beat out obesity, inactivity, and many other psychological blocks which stop us from thinking of ourselves as strong, independent, and exquisite…because if you’ve ever watched a runner, witnessed the flawless chain of self-perpetuating motion, you would see that therein as well as discipline, determination, and desire lies her very own intimate cadence.