Photography by a Runner, Artist, Me

IT ALL STARTED WHEN…

My early childhood days, the ones you don't remember, were spent alongside my parents in their small photography studio in Columbus, Nebraska. The joy of capturing images was passed down from my father and continues to be a love.

You may have noticed 95% of the photos I use on my website have been shot by me. They are a way of expressing myself not just through words but also through images. The feelings and thoughts gathered by just one photo can sometimes be more meaningful than all the words within a single blog post.

My photography is an art form.  I don't follow all the rules.  I don't create on demand.  I see beauty and have an overwhelming desire to capture it.  Even when I don't have my camera with me, I will stand and stare and pocket every bit of detail worried I will later lose the image in my mind. 


You will not find my photos highly edited.  The only simple editing I do is to bring the light and contrast back to what my eye saw. My aspiration is to catch the allure of the world around me.

Give your visual senses a feast and scroll through my PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE. You can even take one or more home for yourself through the shopping feature (new this month). And there is still time to order for a Christmas delivery.


Sail, sail to the ends of the world, to the ends of your neighborhood, the ends of your yard, to the ends of your heart. Sail...

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Happy Runner

SNAPSHOT

SARAH DIDOMIZIO

DIGGING DEEPER

Sarah’s thoughts:

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Sister and Sarah

“I have been running for a few years after taking a 15+ year hiatus from the sport. About six months ago, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon but knew that I needed some assistance to keep moving towards that goal.  I found Shelly through an online search and I couldn’t be happier about my decision to contact her.  At first, I was a little apprehensive at contacting Shelly… after all… how effective is online coaching?!  I can tell you from my personal experience that it is absolutely fantastic! 

When we first talked, Shelly and I discussed the training methods I’d used before, what her philosophy on training was, what my goals were and how she thought we could get there.  We hit it off right from the start.  One of the great things I liked about Shelly was that her goal is to get her athletes to the starting line in the best fitness possible, which means making sure you’re giving your body the time it needs to rest after putting in those hard workouts. I knew too many fellow runners who pushed their bodies to the point of injury and ended up missing out on their goal events due to it.

Shelly uses a combination of training tools including the Final Surge platform, which is a great way to share workouts, comments about the workouts, what you’re feeling, etc.  She also can be easily reached via phone, email and text messages to talk about workouts, any issues/injuries, and just about anything else that’s going on.  I think at times she’s part psychologist when it comes to running.

In the six months since contacting Shelly, I’ve gone from run/walking 5ks to running my first 10k and my first half marathon! Throughout the spring and summer, she consistently worked with me in evaluating my fitness, training progress and goals to adapt my training plans to meet my goal of running a half marathon in the fall.  I’m excited to see my results next year after another six months of training with Shelly!”
1st Half Marathon: 2:30:42 E-Race Cancer HM 2018

Sarah put into words so well the way in which I strive to guide runners. In her testimonial for my website she described our partnership these past 6 months. I have really appreciated her honesty, devotion, and desire to learn. We exchanged articles and portions of running literature in order to gain a better understanding of training and the body. Common runner concerns were answered with a thorough phone call or typed out text. We also shared in the delight of a finished half marathon at her desired pace. It has been such a great partnership. I am thankful she gave me a chance to be apart of her journey.

I love running and want others to be impacted by its many virtues. I work with only a handful of runners, cultivating a quality partnership. I make it a priority to be easily accessible. If you or your friend want to take your running experience to a new level, contact me. I am right here.

SOLUTION

Sarah works with me through Weekly Training Guidance. It has been a very effective partnership.



DANIELLE WALKER's SALMON DINNER

SNAPSHOT

HONEY-MUSTARD SHEET-PAN SALMON

DIGGING DEEPER

Danielle Walker’s cookbooks have provided countless recipes for my kitchen, dinner table, and family. Fortunately, I have been able to test out and share about her 4th cookbook Eat What You Love for the past two weeks. The book will be released on December 4th! Order here.

Now I have permission to share one of her recipes with you. I have included all my personal notes about the ingredients, prep, and baking. Feed your family well this week! Enjoy!

SOLUTION

This recipe is GUEST WORTHY and super simple. It took me about 40 minutes from start to end. Plus there are steps that can been done beforehand resulting in only 20 minutes of baking time needed before serving!

MERRY CHRISTMAS from me!

ENJOY!

#eatwhatyoulovebook

Runner's Amazon Book List

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SNAPSHOT

Booklover Runner

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DIGGING DEEPER

My Amazon Book List— Those that I have highlighted, referenced, and devoured!

Ok, check it out. See which ones you want as Christmas presents, to find at your library, or to add to your audiobook collection.

My favorite categories of items are BOOKS, BAGS, and BASKETS. Oddly, they all start with the letter B, but they are my candy. I know what I love about books: well written, only as long as they need to be, insightful, and eye appealing.

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So I searched though my bookshelves, Audible app, amazon ordered list and picked out my recommendations. These are the books that have survived the test of time or are new favorites.

Podcast interviews, the library bookshelf, and favorite authors are the many ways that a title will first get my attention. Often I request books from my library regional system and preview it to find if it is worth the time and money investment to purchase.

If it passes the test, I choose if audio or print format will be the best way to consume its contents.

Some printed books I highlight like crazy as a form of interactive learning.

Others are more for reference material. A conversation with a friend can cause me to research a deeper reason for my answer or intuition.

The audiobooks are often helpful for busy driving days and to share with my family through the audible app.

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You may note that my list does not contain just running books. We are whole people with diversity within our bodies and minds. The interplay of different parts shapes us in unique ways. Growing ourselves as a whole being and not just in one facet will generate good health.

SOLUTION

A good book will take you away and return you changed.

Surviving the Holiday Treats

SNAPSHOT

I am saving my holiday treat for the ACTUAL day!

DIGGING DEEPER

I am going old school with my consumption of holiday treats, by enjoying them on the ACTUAL day of celebration.

It is overwhelming to have so many delectable treats at our fingertips, calling out to us at each party, meeting, lunch room, gifted cookie plates, and in the grocery store. Each time you succumb to the temptation and taste each and every cookie, bar, or pie you take away from Christmas Day.

If you partake in the delicious treats each day or each meal all throughout the holiday season by the time you get to Dec 25th a gingerbread cookie will be less than delightful. It is in the expectation and waiting for the celebration that you gain the thrill of tasting your favorites.

Think of it this way. How excited would children be for Christmas Day presents if they got a present each day of December? Well, gifts on Christmas Day would lose their appeal. For sure every child would sleep in Christmas morning.

Do you think Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood dinner table in the month of December was filled with Christmas cookies? No way! They didn’t over indulge all month long and take away from the specialness of the holiday. We could hold back on the pre-holiday sweets and therefore assign more value on the significance of Christmas.

The light bulb turned bright this week when I was running with a friend and she commented that she wanted to be eating Whole 30 recommended foods but didn’t think it would be possible during the holidays. We discussed how it would be totally possible if she saved the holiday treats for December 25th. Freedom! Yes, you can eat healthy and therefore stay happy this December, by saving the holiday treats for the special day only.

So the next time you are offered a holiday treat respond with, “Thank you. You are so kind, but I am saving my tastebud extravaganza for Christmas Day, a wonderful moment worth waiting for.” Hint: Holiday treats usually freeze well.

SOLUTION

Go old school this December and save the desserts for Christmas Eve and Day.

Cross Country Running Coach Decal Window Clings

STORE OPEN

After searching online unsuccessfully for a car window cling to thank my son's high school running coaches, I took it into my own hands; designing and ordering my own original decals. Carefully I selecting a decal type that LEAVES NO RESIDUE and can be seen on shaded car windows. Currently, I have ONLY TWO extra up for grabs! Plus considering adding more options in colors, designs, and words. Any feedback or orders welcome!

ORDER HERE

Give feedback and make custom requests HERE!

Confidence to Taper

SNAPSHOT

Have you ever tried to gain extra credit the two weeks before a race, hoping that one, two, or even three more workouts will give you that hopeful PR?

DIGGING DEEPER

The difficult workouts had been completed. Long long runs, fast super short sprints, tempos that dragged on and breathless intervals in amongst miles and miles of easy rhythmic running consumed my training season. With my training bank full of deposits I was ready to cash in. The chasm in front of me required belief in myself and that I had done enough training. I had to have confidence to taper before the race.

Confidence is so much harder to gain then discipline or determination. It is not something that you can just decide to do differently or more often. It is a journey you have to walk through. It takes time. Often requiring another trustworthy person to say, “You have done enough. You are good enough. You have worth as you are now.”

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I truly can’t think of a time I personally gained confidence without someone speaking into my situation and declaring me worthy of my aspirations.

I certainly know when I am not confident. I weave side to side within my plans. My mood goes up and down depending on my workout results. I search for any clue as to whether my aspirations are crazy or realistic. Please let me have peace, I beg.

Hopefully, the moment comes when one word or phrase is spoken by another and I hear the resounding echo of belief. I pause, recite it, flip it over and under, testing it’s purity. Then it rests on my heart and I am at peace. At peace with myself. At peace with my past work. At peace with my ambitions.

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This confidence has to be within me before I can cross that chasm. As the training season comes to within a few weeks of race day, there starts a phase of fine tuning before toeing the start line. It is formally labeled as a taper. Your weekly miles and workout durations reduce, your intensity holds steady as your body makes the final repairs and storage of energy. If you don’t hold the confidence that you have done enough and don’t start your phase of rest and recovery, then you won’t be prepared on race day.

Confidence and successful tapers go hand in hand. If you are worried that you are not good enough or have not done enough, you will search for extra credit opportunities, short cuts, or just fall into the negative realm.

I know this all seems like luck, that is to gain confidence. But it really isn’t luck at all.

First you do have to complete an appropriate training schedule or admit that you didn’t and adjust your goals.

Within your training season you need to develop friendships and mentoring relationships, and take the time to invest in those relationships.

Finally as the time comes for you to taper, begin a dose of open conversations about where you are at with your training and how you will prepare for the race. Talk with your mentors or coach. Discuss what you have done in your training, how your body is feeling, and an estimated race pace.

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And now for a story on my last taper ending in an October 10-mile race.

Early September I raced a 10K that felt just awful. I even gave into the pain for half a mile and backed way off the pace I had been struggling at but still could running at. The fact I gave up within the last mile shook me and I strongly questioned how my mental strength had disappeared.

I responded by asking women I admired where I went wrong and why I couldn’t continue to push myself at my breaking point within a race. I listened to their stories and soaked in their advice.

Beth, an incredible triathlete and runner, was frank with me and said, “You have done enough training.”

I paused in relief. I had measured up to the reasonable expectation she had marked. Her words settled in my heart and I gained the confidence to let my body rest and recover and prepare for the 10-mile race.

Over the next three weeks my body felt more light and quick. Gone where the runs with heavy legs. After each run I was more refreshed than tired. The thought of running the race at a given pace became more believable.

And so I bet you are curious how the race went. My body and mind responded well to each mile and hill. I finished the last mile with a strong push crushing my expected finish time.

Now it was not a PR, that was not what I was gunning for, I just wanted to feel like a competitor again. And competitors need confidence.

SOLUTION

Confidence is found in the journey.

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MUST DO THIS FALL

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SNAPSHOT

Witness strength at Cross Country meets this fall.

DIGGING DEEPER

Google your local high school or college cross country team. Locate their season's racing schedule. Mark your calendar and show up.

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You don't need to know anyone racing, their singlets will have their school name on them.  And most races are free to watch.

You won't regret it!

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  • Wear your walking shoes and leave the foldable chair in the car.  This is an interactive sport!  
  • Arrive 30 minutes before the start of the races. You will need time to park and walk to the start line.  There will be several races during the meet.  Boys/men and girls/women teams will race separately.  Plus there will be different levels of races: Middle School, Junior Varsity, and Varsity.
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  • Find the start line - If you don't know where it is, ask around, it is the common question. 
  • Look out for a map of the course and take a picture of it with your phone.  Then pinpoint a central location to view the race.  Many racecourses are spectator friendly and loop around giving you several chances to cheer.

 

  • Follow the crowd for viewing all the action.  The parents and teammates will dart off to the next best spot to view the race.
  • Cheer often and for everyone!
  • Soak in the beauty of the park or golf course.
  • Understand the sacrifice and devotion of the athletes.  Many have trained 6 days a week all summer in the heat, often on their own.
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SOLUTION

Running is a sport, cheer athletes on!

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Confidence

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SNAPSHOT

My way weaves and sways and dips when my confidence is low.

DIGGING DEEPER

In two days I will toe the line at a race that I attempted one year ago. This race could easily turn into a yearly test of my fitness: weaknesses and strengths. So I am weary of the test and its results. 

Am I slipping backward? Is my age finally catching up with me? Did I not work hard enough, loving comfort?  Was all the work this year worth it?  The thoughts get tangled in my mind along with the emotions and fears.  Am I in denial? Or will I have a breakthrough?

This is test anxiety as a 39-year-old.

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My son searched for the last location to place his Rummikub tile in order to win the game.  He thought it was hopeless.  On the precipice of him giving up, I blurted out, "You can win."  His dark horizon flashed with light. There was hope and he searched with confidence. He was going to search until he found the combination needed to take the win.  Nothing had changed at that moment but my declaration of possibility. He went from no confidence in winning to full confidence in winning.  I gave the vote of confidence because I saw the path to victory. 

What can confidence do in a person's life?

It can open up doors.

It can give renewed strength.

It can make the journey less painful.

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As I ran with a training partner and friend last Thursday, I shared my need for confidence. I need someone, whom I believe, to say, "You can win." I need someone in my life that when I don't see any hope, they can declare an open path to victory.

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I am thankful for the role I play in my husband's, children's, friends', and athletes' lives where I can instill confidence. Now it is my turn to hear those around me who are declaring my open path to victory. 

SOLUTION

Putting aside fear I embrace this opportunity to run without restraint and instead with hope and confidence. 

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If you are looking for more confidence in your running, considering working with me as your coach.

The intersection of family and running

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SNAPSHOT

When you have more than one love, creativity and flexibility will help you find a way to continue investing in your loves. 

DIGGING DEEPER

Map My Run author Ashley Lauretta interviewed me on the topic of running with your family.  And boy do I have experience in this dance.  As the kids are one by one reaching their teenage years, I am seeing the benefits of the strategies that I used. They all enjoy running and have a healthy relationship with the sport. 

One of my sons is in love with running and joins in with his running team at 6:15 AM on summer mornings!  Another son sees its value and adds in runs when training for his other sports. And oh how my heart melts when the middle two take off for their own running adventure together. 

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My daughter will encourage me to get out and start my runs and even run alongside me for the first 3 miles.

Now my husband, his support is in listening to my nonstop talking about running and racing and coaching.  He may not take a step with me on the trails but he sure will have my eggs ready when I return from my Saturday morning run.

My philosophy has been to model and give them chances to participate but never to guilt trip or force them. My joy spreads.

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Check out Lauretta's and a past Adirondack article for the how-tos of entwining your loves of family and running.

4 Tactics to Run as a Family on Map My Run website

Passing on the Joy of Running in the Adirondack Sports Magazine

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SOLUTION

Model and have patience. They will come around.

Fueling Persistance

SNAPSHOT

Jealously, anger, and pride don't motivate me beyond the emotional moment. However, I still am a highly motivated person. It is an internal drive that persists on its own accord.  

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DIGGING DEEPER

Yesterday, I considered writing a finish time and name on a sticky note and placing it on my bathroom mirror. I wanted to keep my focus on a certain goal to be better than a particular person's best race.  She doesn't know that I placed a target on her back.  And I am sure she does not care one little bit whether I will ever beat her PR. She probably doesn't even remember me at all.  But I have a grudge and wish I could show that I am just as valuable and accomplished. Moments later, I snapped back into reality and acknowledged that trying to fuel my motivation with jealousy wasn't going to last more than one workout, or perhaps not even a half of a workout.  Jealously just doesn't motivate me through a season.  Plus, all the bad feelings certainly don't build my character or make me happy.  You can safely assume I don't have any sticky notes on my bathroom mirror.

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At a running party, an unnamed older male once made a comment about me looking pregnant (I WAS NOT PREGNANT, but just had eaten a big meal.) and that if I was not pregnant then how could I not be super skinny and still fast.  He showed up the next Monday to run with the local running group.  I, still offended, kept my mouth shut and let's say ran a bit faster than usual. And the group stuck with the faster pace and the unnamed man may have been quite sore the next day. My anger toward him could only last so long and I would have to forgive him so that it did not eat me up on the inside. I could have used that comment to become obsessed with training hard and turning into the runner body that he expected. However, my motivation for running would have stemmed from anger, not joy.  Who wants to run with someone that is angry and bitter?

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"What are you training for?" I get this question posed to me over and over. Usually, after they hear of my last long run distance or when I add in a few miles after they finished running.  I respond with, "Nothing, just running."  I am not training for an accomplishment to announce to the world. Some people don't fall into the trap of pride, but it looms closely over my head.  I need to keep from boasting and my head swelling up with pride.  So I don't often articulate all my future wishes and declare all my victories. I know that there are so many many many runners better than me and that my victory is really just for me to enjoy. 

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Alrighty then where in the world does my motivation come from?  I have been dwelling on this thought throughout the last month as I have hit some new highs in my recent training.  I think how did I accomplish that? How come I didn't give up and end the run early or even when planned?  How did I run for so long by myself for no race-specific reason? Why am I the only one out here on Lollipop Lane sprinting 160 meters every Tuesday? 

Explaining motivation is like the struggle to bottle up a child's excessive energy. It is abstract, individual, and ever-changing. All I can do is share some of the bubbles above my head as I have covered the miles throughout my town this spring/summer.  

"Just run for 10 minutes, I can always walk home if I hate the run."

"Run for 40 minutes then this run can be used as a restorative run for my body. Thirty minutes is only a recovery, but ten more minutes will get me into the restorative area."

"Perhaps I will find a new friend while out running. Might as well try."

"One-second faster. Can I run this next sprint just one second faster?"

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"This conversation with my running friend is so interesting that I don't want to stop running and lose out on the friendship time."

"I have to keep up with her because I can't admit how hard it is to run this pace."

"Get as far from home as possible and then I get to run home without the using up motivation currency because I have to get home somehow and running will get me to a cold drink of water faster than walking."

"If I get too far away from home and I get too tired, I will just call my husband or son to come and pick me up in a car." I did have to get picked up last month because I couldn't make it home in time to leave for my son's soccer tournament.

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"1:25:00 is way too close to 1:30:00, which is the Lydiard claimed boundary for a long run. I can always run 5 more minutes."

"If I have run for 12 miles, why not just go to 16 miles. It is like only running a 4-mile run, forgetting the past 12. And 16 will give me new longest run record for this year."

"I will be proud of myself when I am done. I can tell my kids how far or fast I ran today."

See my motivation has turned from outward circumstances to internal ways to positively challenge myself. I don't need to chase a race finish time or an opponent to become more fit or faster than last year.  I use knowledge and grit to take my body to the next level.  And if I don't race much this year or do race but the finish times don't reflect my fitness, it won't matter. Because I trained for myself and challenged myself and grew stronger in my body, mind, and heart. I am happy running: short, long, slow, or fast.

SOLUTION

Develop your running character to lead a rich running life.

"We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Bible Romans 5:3-4

Image Exposed

Disclaimer: This post has sat in my draft box for over a year.  I didn't have the courage to release it until now.  After witnessing well-known runners approach this topic, it is time we expose our stories too.  I applaud them and want to support the movement to open up the topic of running and body size. Their take on the issue is valuable.  Please check out their posts.

SNAPSHOT

My fight with my image.

DIGGING DEEPER

I remember this day, this race.  I fell apart. My mind, following my body, fell apart also. It was after a long training season where I had run all the correct training, hitting workout after workout. I had worked so hard in every running way to be a faster half marathoner.  However, the PR race didn't happen.  I still had a quick finish time but it did not match my faster training level.

At this final race of the training season, my body called my bluff and I suffered.  For the month after the race, I was barely able to run 3 miles at a time.  I had fallen off the cliff.  My friend, Joe, has always told me that, "If I tried to lose too much weight, I would lose what made me a good runner, my strength." 

Fast forward a few years...

It wasn't until I was scrolling through the old photos that I saw this picture of me in a new light. It is just crazy to me that every other time I saw this picture I didn't see how empty I looked.  How unhealthy I had become.  When this picture was taken I had stopped eating red meat and limited my calories below the amount needed to run up to 80 miles a week. Sleep at night had been put off and reduced to 6 hours.  None of these habits were what my body needed in order to recover from my training.

 Take a closer look.

Take a closer look.

You may look at this picture and say, you don't look that skinny to be unhealthy.  Pause, who are you comparing me to? Are you comparing me to a different body type? Only compare me to me.

My body has a natural body weight where it functions correctly.  Once at a certain body fat percentage and on a reduced calorie consumption rate, I don't lose fat, I lose muscle, valuable muscle. That muscle is what powers me for miles through a race.

I have already ran this experiment several times in my life. Skinnier does not equal stronger. For every pound of weight you lose, 70 percent is fat, 30 percent is muscle. When I am not properly refueling my body or sleeping enough during training, my body gives strong signs that I am compromising my health. Read up on the Female Triad here and here and here.

 

It started years ago...

My college assistant coach, with good intentions, pinched and measured and plotted out my size then declared, "lose 10 pounds."  No education, no help, no better access to healthy food came with that prescription.  So I did what every logical college freshman would do, limited my calories to under 1,000 per day while training and competing. However, it didn't work for me. The weight scale didn't change. I had hit my own individual natural weight limit. I felt like a failure. I had to give up and try to hide that "extra" ten pounds.

So I have hidden those 10 pounds ever since. Afraid.

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I often feel skinny enough when around the normal population.  However, when with competitive runners, I know I am the largest. I have to look at pictures to see what I really look like. I hide the ones that show an unflattering belly. Keeping the photos that got just the right angle, which has become harder after four c-sections.

 Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?

When I look at this picture I see a weak and frail runner, and not just because it was at the end of half marathon.  I see my body stripped of Shelly Strength.  A thin Shelly is not a stronger faster runner.   

This gets to the core of my self-image and desire to be skinny.  I have talked with friends that are "runner skinny" (super skinny) and they still seek to be even smaller.  They tell of the loss of energy and muscle and therefore no better race results.  It is an illusion that if you are skinny, you will be a fast runner or even more beautiful.  

It is true that the fewer pounds to move over a race distance, the less energy required. However, you need muscle to move over the ground. What will you do if you don't have muscle power at the end of the race when your opponent is blazing by you, is it really worth it?  

Is it really worth it to be constantly hungry and continually punishing yourself by not refueling? Do you love a finishing time or place more than the body that God gave you? Does your body truly deserve to be punished?

I don't want to be a deprived runner.  

I accept my strong body. I am thankful for my body that grew and gave birth to four incredible, make me cry with happiness, children. I stride forward to forge the road for runners that are strong mentally and physically. I am a competitive runner, one who competes to be better than I was last year.  I train and treat my body in a respectful way, honoring its strengths. 

It was 20 years ago that I joined a college team in which I ran and lived with runners that had eating disorders.

It has taken all of those 20 years to recover from the damage and to have a realistic view of beauty and strength as a runner. I declare my body as wonderfully made!

How do you punish your body?

Do you appreciate your strengths?

Do treat your body as valuable? 

SOLUTION

BE YOU!  Be the wonderfully made YOU! Like yourself.

 The real Strong Shelly two years ago at the end of a half marathon.

The real Strong Shelly two years ago at the end of a half marathon.