Looking Beyond Appearances

This past weekend I had the pleasure of running in the Great Turtle half-marathon on Mackinac Island.  The 13.1-mile run was held concurrently with a 5.7-mile run/walk that meandered in and around the “Up North” tourist mainstay.  The weather was uncharacteristically perfect for late October, and more than two thousand people participated in the event.       

The half-marathon itself was a delightfully challenging course, with varied terrain, demanding hills, and distracting views.  The chance to explore the island during the run was part of the charm for me, as we had the opportunity to see the majority of the different settings that the island offers.  I believe the environmental beauty is what drew many recreational runners like myself. 

Despite having run in several races to date, I am always intrigued by the demographics of those whom I pass, or better yet, who pass me.  I become mentally preoccupied with this aspect of a race even as I am participating.  To me, it is such a joy to see that no matter your age, fitness level, or training goal, it’s what is on the inside that counts.  Enjoying physical activity, and appreciating the effort it requires, is greatly commendable no matter what stage of life you are in.

Being a fit, young woman, I would strike most as the classically “in-shape” individual.  The reality is that looks mean nothing in a race.  I have been passed by twelve-year old boys, seventy-year-old grandmas, people who seem to be carrying their “winter weight,” a woman pushing a jogger with a child in it, and even a man in a giant tooth costume.  Those are just the remarkable ones. I’m intrigued by the speed and endurance that so many people have despite the fact that on the outside they look like unlikely candidates.

 This actuality can bring out the best or the worst in us.  It’s very tempting to get critical, self-defeating, and discouraged by comparing ourselves to others.  On the other hand, this gives us a wonderful opportunity to root for one another in admiration and to be proud of our fellow man for getting out and getting active.  I can’t help but smile when I do have the chance to be left in someone else’s dust, because it means they are putting a lot of work into being healthy, fit, and sharing it with others.  I have been encouraged by other runners on race courses, and having the opportunity to do the same for someone else, who perhaps is struggling to finish, is one of my favorite parts of racing.

The moral of this story is simple. You don’t have to look perfect to enjoy exercising.  Just putting those shoes on is one step in the right direction that you won’t regret.  Don’t let self-doubt or insecurity keep you from becoming healthier today.  Encourage those you see out for a walk, bike, or run.  Let out a whoop in your fitness class.  Grab a friend and shoot hoops.  Just get up, get out there, and have fun!

Heidi Morris, Rochester Resident

About Heidi Morris

Rochester Hills mom of three. Loves life, loves family, loves to share new and interesting things with everyone. Contact her today at heidikmorris@yahoo.com