As you probably guessed in my Running and Life post, I used to worry a lot about what other people thought of me when I was exercising.
Once I decided I was more worried about my health than I was about what others thought of me, I hit my city’s gorgeous track.
I hadn’t run in years, and for the first few weeks, I was hyper aware of everyone around me and what I just knew what they were thinking.
The person driving by is laughing. The person passing me is aggravated I’m so slow. The person coming my way can’t believe how red my face is. My ankles are too skinny and my ass is too fat and my belly is too jelly.
So, it might seem like running was doing more harm than good for my mental health, at least, but oddly it wasn’t. No matter how embarrassed I was, when I got home, I felt great. I felt accomplished and proud.
Still, even after a couple of months, I still felt the same anxiety every time I laced up my shoes.
Will I see anyone I know? Will they make fun of me? What about strangers–will they judge my running pants or speed or form?
So, I joined an 8-week running class. I thought I’d learn a few things, maybe meet a few runners–you know, maybe get over myself…
…and get over myself I did.
There were tall runners, short runners, overweight runners, underweight runners, older runners, younger runners, runners who’d never run before–and they were all there, running, in front of everyone, and motivating the hell out of me.
Not only because I thought “If they can do it, I can do it” but because I thought, “We’re all unique, and we all just want to run.”
These people were running. They weren’t letting any superficial reason keep them in the house. Some of them were OK wearing sweats; others were comfortable in tighter running pants. Some were fast; some jogged slowly. Some had run several races before; some were struggling a little to lose some weight.
They all had their strengths and weaknesses, and they were all out there showing me that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to want to succeed.
So, the next time you’re tempted to go running or roll out your yoga mat or take a healthy cooking class but are afraid of what others will think of you, remind yourself that what they think of you could very well be the motivation that gets them going, too!