Own Your Beauty, Month 4: Adventure in Sweat

6 years ago

I’m your average woman in her late twenties. I’ve got a husband, no kids,and two dogs, who bark incessantly (the dogs, not the husband). I live in a small but charming duplex in a moderate-sized city. I wake up each morning, "commute" to work by walking into my home office, and spend my day mostly staring at screens –- computer, phone, television.

I’ll admit it –- when my daily tasks feel painfully dull, I’ll Google “topical vacations under $1,000” or search Wikipedia for more information about Bora Bora. I find myself fantasizing about these luxurious, outrageous vacations that I’ll probably never have the time or money to take. I dream about snorkel trips, rappelling up a mountain, sleeping on the beach, bargaining at a local market, and simply wandering around foreign towns with nothing but a map and a camera. I crave adventure, like many of us do.

For a long time, I was convinced that you have to travel to experience adventure, but in the last few years, I’ve discovered that I can create adventure right here in my own neighborhood. About five times a week, I lace up my running shoes, pump the tires up on my bike, or roll out the yoga mat, and I find adventure.

It’s no tropical rainforest, but my version of adventure is pretty awesome.

In high school, I was more bookish than athletic, and in college, my idea of physical competition was the Beer Olympics. But as an adult, I’ve discovered an entire world of adventure through road races (running) and triathlons. If such activities don’t sound like your cup of tea –- hear me out.

First, I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not winning races. I run a moderate pace, I’m not a particularly fast cyclist, and –- Heaven knows -– I sink more than I swim. Once, I was literally the last person out of the lake during a triathlon. The point of racing isn’t winning the whole thing –- the point is to race yourself.

When you set out to accomplish a distance, whether it’s a 5k, a marathon, a sprint triathlon, or a charity walk, you discover the thrill of simply ... being alive. Too often we wander through life without really putting our bodies to the test. If you’ve never run a single step or swam a single stroke, there’s tremendous adventure in seeing what you’re capable of achieving. When I run, my neighborhood is transformed. I love to run to movie playlists, so I pound the pavement and envision that I’m a bank robber and the cops are just around the corner.

For me, exercise is a break from daily life –- it’s not a chore. It’s a moment alone, a moment to play pretend, a moment to discover what I’m really made of. When I want to quit and walk, I ask myself to run just ten more steps. Those ten steps have comprised some of my most adventurous moments, ever.

In those moments, I learn all the ways that I am beautiful. Racing has taught me that I’m more committed and capable than I ever imagined. I’m stronger than I ever knew. Through fundraising for various charities for two big races, I’ve learned that people are kind and giving. I’ve also learned that I can chafe in some very uncomfortable places!

Race day is the biggest adventure of all! There is absolutely nothing like training for an event for weeks and then suddenly finding yourself at the starting line. The thrill! The anticipation! Who knows how it will go until it’s over? Races can be amazing; races can be heartbreaking. But they are never, ever dull. And that, my friends, is a truly beautiful experience.

No one starts off a marathoner. Everyone has to work their way up through a combination of walking and running. A great introductory program is Couch to 5k, which encourages you to walk and run in specific intervals to build endurance. Most cities have small 5ks every month and larger races about two or three times a year; you can find local races at Active.com.

I’ve found beauty and strength in being adventurous. I never thought that I’d be able to say, “I’m a marathoner,” but I can. It was one of the most incredible, inspiring moments of my life. So if you’re bored with the day-to-day and looking to spice things up, consider those running shoes. Sweat is a beautiful thing, and the lessons you learn on the road can transform over to all aspects of your life.

Do you find beauty through sweat? Do you find exercise adventurous?

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Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.

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