Every now and then it’s important to remind myself of what an incredibly efficient bio-machine I inhabit.
Usually its efficiency is in quarters that I’d frankly, rather it stopped being so bloody good at: efficiently growing hair in inappropriate places, efficiently converting calories into fat targeted expertly to my hip region and so on.
But every now and then, I marvel and am in awe of my body. I remember that it is not a tool for vanity, or simply a walking and sitting vehicle with a brain on top of it.
The first two times were when I carried and gave birth to my children. These processes had very little to do with the thinking ‘I’ and everything to do with the physical ‘I’. I had no control over what my body was doing and watched in as much wonder as my husband as the whole incredible process of growing and birthing happened inside my very own body.
The most recent time I was in awe of my body was when I ran my first ever 10 km race in Greenwich Park.
Once I started running once a week back in January, I made myself book in to run a race (against all my school-era instincts). I knew that I would have to train now in order to not completely die during the race. A close friend ran a 10k in May and did it in a sickeningly good time – pressure.
The weather got hotter, the running harder and the pressure mounted. Then I pulled my right achilles running too fast down a hill, my right thigh started twingeing and I discovered that my right leg is shorter than my left. Then a toenail on my left foot went black and started to come off. I had no idea that running was such a dangerous sport!
But by this time the race was looming and there was no going back. I decided to run it my way, which is start slowly, keep going slowly, get to the end. A radical method.
It worked! I ran the course in an hour and 9 minutes, got the medal and felt totally shattered.
Shattered but proud of my body, because I have a new respect for it and I have discovered the satisfaction that comes from honing and toning the body – turning it from a soft, passive thing, into a slightly less soft (with bigger calves) active thing.