feeling like a fraud


I remember back when I started running. Oh, I ran a whole lot. But I didn’t tell that many people about it.

It was 1997. I was about to start my third year of grad school and gave longer-distance running a try, as an escape from academia. But, I was still plump, by a good 30-40 pounds, and would be, as long as I kept enjoying the frequently-flowing beer and processed snacks at our lab meetings. (Which later turned into eating out, in general, and my staying plump. But still running.)

I felt like such a fraud and never talked much about my running with others. Me, a runner? Runners are supposed to be fast and skinny. I was always one of the slowest ones in the group. I always held up the rear, in shame. So I decided to stay fairly tight-lipped about my hobby.

Eventually (mostly through ditching the processed junk) I lost most of the weight and have stayed where I am today–much thinner than I was then. I’m not much faster (little did I know about the MS gremlins slowing me down over the past few years) but I feel that I have the body of a runner, now. Or at least the body of someone who resembles a runner.

The irony being that now, post-diagnosis, 20 minutes of running is a challenge that I’m building from, right now. (I’m doing all sorts of other working out, but running is a holy grail while I still can.) When I felt like a fraud 15 years ago, 20-30 pounds heavier than I am now, my “not a runner” body was the one that got me through three marathons.

My point being… don’t judge your performance based on an appearance or today’s attitude. You just might be at your best when your brain tells you you’re at your worst. Don’t give in; keep making forward progress. And you’ll prove your worth–rather than self-limiting fraudulence–to yourself and others.


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