Thursday, November 5, 2009

Does my race kit make me look fat?

You've trained to within an inch of your life. You're as strong as you've ever been. Fleet and fast. Balanced and centered. Confident. Clunk. That's the sound of falling off the cliff of confidence, when we ought to be flying into our future.

"You ate two whole pieces of pizza?" That's what Rebecca Rusch's college running coach once said to her. And then proceeded to tell all the women on "his" running team that they were fat and slow (need I say that was obviously not so). Robin is a 5'8, 116 lbs speedster. She's basically a beautiful string bean with muscles. Twenty years ago her college running coach also thought she was fat (for the record she was the same size). Half the time she tells me she thinks she's fat. What are these coaches smoking? We can look at other women and shake our heads and think (or indeed say), that's just crazy, you look great. And yet we let these negative messages infect our self-images.

I thought of Rebecca's college coach the other night when I was wolfing down pizza, feeling like I couldn't get enough to re-stoke after putting in a 50 mile running week. I froze for a moment during my dinner. Hmmm? I was feeling great. But, maybe...I...was...deluded? Clunk.

Hands up all women athletes who have a relationship with food that has had its ups and downs. Rebecca quit the running team and went through a "bit of an eating disorder" period, as she puts it. To this day, this hyper-fit woman will get her new race kit and wonder, "does my race kit make me look fat?" Okay, granted, lycra bike shorts are not always the most flattering fashion, but still. She is a woman who ought never to think that way.

In fact, all of us should just stop, just stop this delusional thinking right now, whether we are in the best shape of our lives or in a temporary trough. We need to get out of our own way and let ourselves be happy. Fit is the new thin! Fit is the new black. Fit is the point.