This week, Ewan talks about taking the time to make a change.
I’ve recently started running, not that this is massive news, or article worthy in itself, but the psychological effects of picking up this new hobby has surprised me and made me re-evaluate a few things.
When you think of a competitive runner (which I fully aim to be, I don’t do anything be halves), the mental image you generate is typically a very skinny person who looks to be in a lot of pain. Well, the pain part never bothered me too much, but the skinny bit sure as shit did.
After spending years and years in a stinky, small sweat box of a gym I longed to be outside. To be moving around more and to regain a level of athleticism that the pursuit of maximal strength took from me.
This lead me to follow in the footsteps of a friend, and start trail/fell running. I’m still lifting weights and going to the gym, but the focus has changed somewhat. Now, first thing on a Saturday morning I probably won’t go to strongman events training, instead I’ll put on some questionable leggings and head to the woods.
I’m really enjoying it so far, the change in training is refreshing and I was getting burned out with full-on strength training. But one thing that I’ve struggled with is how my appearance might change.
I’ve grown accustomed to being big and (a bit) muscular. The perception of performing excessive amounts of cardio is that your muscles will fall off and you’ll become a skinny little bitch. I’ve since learned that this is bollocks, which is a relief. And I was surprised at how much of a relief it was. I genuinely was worried about being small; about how I would feel about myself and how I would be perceived by the public if I lost loads of weight.
Also, and this is a slightly embarrassing admission but anyone who lifts weights will think the same whether they admit it or not, I want to look like a fucking athlete. Performance is always priority number one, but I spend at least 10 hours training every week. I at least want to look like a bit of an athlete, as a reward for the years of slog and pain. But you put an ultra-marathon runner in normal clothes and you wouldn’t pick them out in a line as an elite level athlete. This Genuinely bothered me. It’s far from the goal, but I do want to look like I’ve put the work in, if that makes sense?
However, I needn’t worry. As mentioned, running and general conditioning won’t rob your muscle as long as you keep up a good level of resistance training and get enough food going in. And, I’m learning to be prouder of what my body can do, as opposed to what it looks like, which is a far deeper kind of pride. Still, my arms are already small enough, I hope they don’t disappear completely.