I’ve been running in a sports bra.

I started doing this last week after I read a forum where a lady was asking how other female runners manage to wear (only) sport bras without feeling embarrassed. I think it might have been on Runner’s World.

Running in a sports bra was a thought that never really occurred to me, so I decided to give it a try. It was better, of course. Easier to cool down and somewhat liberating.

I read the entire forum and I was intrigued by the psychological and self-esteem issues behind the simple act of wearing a sports bra. It seems that a lot of female runners watch other runners, and then compare themselves. They see younger, prettier, quicker girls run by and then feel bad about themselves.

This reminded me of something Haruki Murakami mentioned in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He writes about the beautiful, young college girls who pass him quickly, their ponytails bobbing proudly in the air. He says he knows by their pace that they are not long distance runners. And this helps explain why I see these girls all the time but don’t ever feel self-conscious.

Quite frankly, it’s because I don’t think they’re better than me. Running is great no matter how you do it, but for me a long distance runner is in a different league. They’re freaking heroes, because they have been out for hours. They are cool. They are calm. They are upright. Breathing deeply, moving mechanically. They are strong.

Sure, the girls who pass me are pretty. But they don’t go home to blog about running. They don’t plan their social engagements around their training and recovery times. They don’t go to bed at 8 pm to get up at 4 am to start running.

I’m like a marriage and they’re like one night stands. The long run is a commitment. I know what it means to wait out the hard times. When you want nothing more than to just give up, I know how to push ahead.

I know how to breathe instead of pant. I know how to compromise and how to choose my battles. I know that pleasure over the long term is better than immediate relief. So I train for endurance.

The bouncing girls who pass me don’t make me feel bad because I know that as soon as their ponytails start to sag and their hamstrings hurt a little, they’re done. A run like that feels good for one night. But a long distance runner is a runner for life.

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