The last two days I've been on the road making my way to Denver, which has given me a lot of time to listen to podcasts and a lot of time to think about what I'm hearing. The hosts on one of the podcasts I listened to had a discussion about athletes using performance enhancing drugs. This is a subject I am clueless about, beyond knowing that it happens. But the degree to which it happens and the fact that you can often do a "sight test" to make an educated guess about whether or not someone might be using a performance enhancer was news to me. Apparently, it's happening all around me and I had no idea. I'm shockingly out of the loop on this subject, or, more accurately, astoundingly naive.
Perhaps most surprising to me was that your everyday athlete is taking part in this. It's not surprising to me that athletes at a professional level do this, but I was surprised to learn the estimated rate at which amateur athletes do. I guess I shouldn't be shocked--I'm an amateur amateur athlete and there have been times I'd match my desire to do well against any one, which I'm assuming is the biggest driver in amateurs using some kind of enhancer. But it would never have crossed my mind to take something to enhance my abilities. It just never really crosses my mind that anyone would.
I guess what I really came away with was what kind of perspective do I want to have on the whole athletic life--my athletic life? What's it all for? When I listened to these podcast hosts talk about people they've known that have gone to these extremes it made me really think about what I've asked of my body over the years. It may sound corny but it made me so grateful for what my body has put up with from me and how it came back around when I asked it to--and in my fifties, no less. It bore the brunt of the pain in my life, and it shouldered my lack of esteem and confidence, and then it became an athlete. The very last thing I did for years on end was to cherish and love my body, and frankly I can still be critical of her even though she shows up for me every day and has given me the most amazing experiences of my life.
But something clicked six years ago, and I have been throwing all of my investment into her ever since, and in return she has given me back the information I needed for my life to be whole. Turns out we aren't at odds, we are on the same team. And now I just want to be kind to her. Investing in my body is the best investment I could have ever made, and I do cherish what my body can do, even if I struggle to love her 100% of the time.
Upon reflection I think the best performance enhancers I could give my body are a strong mind, a positive attitude, lots of good food, recovery, & sleep, appreciation for all she does, admiration for what a miracle machine she is, and loving her without conditions. I've been given a second lease on life as a runner--as an athlete--and I have my body to thank for that.
And I will thank my body, starting now, every day. Because it really, really is the most amazing thing I will ever own. And I want to cherish and love her for as long as I'm lucky enough to get to.