Has Age Changed How You See Yourself? Bookmark and Share

Has Age Changed How You See Yourself?

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

You know the phrase “it’s like riding a bike,” which implies that once you learn how to ride a bike, you’ll never forget. Well it isn’t true.

I was that kid who learned to ride a bike one summer and had to relearn the next. I was also the kid who took forever learning to roller skate and the kid who got a ‘D’ in jump roping in fifth-grade gym class. To be fair, my gym teacher was a complete bitch who scarred me for life, but that’s a post for another time.

One of my nicknames growing up was “Grace,” and that’s not because I was a ballerina. In high school, I tried track and gymnastics because my friends were participating, but my performance was borderline humiliating. Gym class was always a torture chamber.

I simply wasn’t athletic, and in my mind I never could be.

After college, I realized I needed to get in shape or forever retain my beer-and-taco booty, so I headed to the gym, took kickboxing classes and even threw in some running. I got in shape but still never felt like athletic.

When my husband, an avid cyclist, and I started dating, I bought a bike and even did a full century ride (100 miles) at one point—my husband pushed me up hills as needed. Yet, I never considered myself a cyclist.

Even though I’ve run for 15 years now, I’ve never classified myself as a runner. My longest distance ever was an 8K, and I injured my ankle in the last five minutes. I rarely ran more than twice per week. I’ve never completed a 5K in less than 30 minutes.

When I started training for a half-marathon two months ago, I simply wanted a physical goal to work toward. I assumed my body would change, but I didn’t expect the training to change my mindset, too.

All of my life, I’ve considered myself an uncoordinated, clumsy person with very little athletic prowess. That changed last weekend when I ran my longest distance ever: 7 miles. During that run I also surpassed the milestone of running 100-mile this year and according to my online tracking program, I broke every one of my person records for speed and distance. I’m still slow by most runners’ standards, but in my world, I kicked ass.

Most shocking (and exciting) was that for the first time ever, I beat my husband. I have never been faster or stronger than him at anything, but numbers don’t lie. My pace was faster than his.

Sure, I beat him because I’ve been training and he has not due to his 5+ hour commute every day. I fully expect the universe to right itself again once he starts a new job in April, which will give him time to train.

But for that one day, I was faster than an athlete. I ran longer and faster than I ever have, and that knowledge shook me to the core. It was like turning on a light switch and seeing myself clearly for the first time.

Today when I returned from my cold, damp run, I looked in the mirror. The 10-year-old who nearly failed jump roping class was gone. In her place stood a runner—a real runner.

It’s taken 40 years for me to see her. Perhaps she has always been there, and my lifelong misperception of myself was simply too skewed to see her. Now, that I've got her in my sights, I don't plan to lose her now.

How has your perception of yourself changed with age?

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  1. Gigi

    Gigi on 03/19/2014 3:19 p.m. #

    Pretty sure you got your athletic ability from me. I can't tell you how proud I am of you and the way you are training. In my mind I was a fat teenager with no boobs. After having my last baby I couldn't lose the weight. It took me 2 years to lose 40 pounds. It was a real journey for me. I realized I could set goals and reach them. I also gained more confidence. I found out I enjoy working out once I started doing the workouts that were right for me. I take great pride in finishing a workout with women who are 20-30 years younger than I am. My goal is to be the healthiest 60 something I can be.

  2. Rebecca Richman

    Rebecca Richman on 03/22/2014 10:53 p.m. #

    Yes!!! At the ripe young age of 50, the perception of myself has changed. I'm proud of how far I've come. Proud of the fact that I gut through presentations at work and speak even though my voice still ain't what it used to be. I'm learning to love myself and accept that I'll never be perfect. And I'm running, too! Sometimes up to four times per week! I'm learning to give myself some TLC and kudos along the way. Thanks for sharing, Heidi. As always, you give me strength by sharing your wisdom. : )

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