How a Terrible Running Injury Taught Me to Love My Body

On body image, self-love, and starting over

How a Terrible Running Injury Taught Me to Love My Body

(Photos courtesy of Rachel LaVoie)

Rachel LaVoie is a Boston-based runner who documents her journey back from a severe hip injury she suffered earlier this year at Project No Zero Days. Her injury was the result of an obsessive relationship with running, fed by poor self-image, that led to over-exercising and disordered eating.

Awesomeness continues after advertisement

She explained to ATV, “I looked at the other runners around me and thought ‘I don’t look like them.’ I let that eat away at my self-worth and it took a sidelining injury for me to finally find a little perspective on how to change the way I view myself, both inside and out.”

In the open letter below, reprinted from her blog, LaVoie speaks to past and future versions of herself — and reflects on how far she’s come in her journey to self-love. Follow her on Instagram here.

Dear Past Me,

Awesomeness continues after advertisement

>

I want to start out by saying you did okay. Not great, but okay. You had some rough moments and some amazing moments, and all in all you could have done better. But you also could have done worse. I’d give you a C+.

I’m not here to criticize you for what you didn’t do well, though. I’m here to forgive you for what you could have done better and help you to learn from your mistakes. I’m also here to apologize for everything I put you through, both physically and emotionally.

Room for improvement numero uno: You could have been a little kinder to yourself. Sure, you made some mistakes along the way but you’re here now aren’t you? (Yes you are. I’m writing this). You should have cut yourself some slack and been a little easier on yourself.

You lost literally years of your life worrying about how much or how fast you were running, and how much or how little you were eating. Guess what? You’re not running anymore and you sure as hell don’t look like a supermodel — so was it worth it?

Hey, remember when you won a marathon and then untagged all the pictures because you thought you looked fat?

Second, and this may be even more important than the first, you could have had a little more perspective on how your actions affected the people around you. You sure are lucky your friends and family love you so much, because I don’t know that I would have stuck around to watch that all go down.

You fell victim to the tunnel vision of an obsession, and you let it tear down your self-worth and worse than that, you let your relationships suffer as a result.

Probably one of the lowest points of your training spiral. Do you even remember anything else about that weekend besides that you “bombed” your race with a 2 min PR? P.S. your sister was pregnant and you just booked a wedding venue.

But like I said at the beginning, this isn’t about critiquing what you did wrong. It’s about learning from you. So forgive, but don’t forget. Forgive yourself for the less-than-perfect things you did in the past, but don’t forget the pain it caused you and the people who matter most in your life.

Our memories exist for a reason, and as much as we’d sometimes like to leave them behind, the reality is they shape our present and our future. So hold onto them and use them for good.

I also want to say I’m sorry for everything I put you through in the past and I’m sorry for all of the terrible things I’ve said about you over the years. I hate that I can never take them back. But you’re doing okay, and you’re going to keep getting better.

So thank you for giving me the gift of hindsight (although that 20/20 thing is a real bitch) and thank you for not being too stubborn to learn from your mistakes. I just want to say, 10/10 for accepting constructive criticism. Future you will thank you one day.

Is that you with your shirt off and an imperfect body? Eat your heart out 2013.

Keep your head up. You did great. A few Zero Days in there, but we can fix that now. Present Me has got it from here.

Dear Future Me,

I want to congratulate you for making it this far. That deserves a “woo” in and of itself. I hope by now you’ve taken over the world and are living somewhere on a beach in an exotic place. If not, please see me after class and Present Me would like to have a serious talk with you on what went wrong.

We’ll keep this short and sweet because I’m sure you’ve got this by now, but I just want to say that I hope you’ve found some peace with yourself and your life since we last talked.

I hope you’ve forgiven yourself for the things you could have done better in the past and I hope you’ve found a way to love yourself and the people around you with no inhibition.

I hope that you’ve learned from all that weird shit that past you did and found a way to make it positive.

There will always be people and things in your life that are more important than running or how skinny you are or aren’t. If not, you’re doing it wrong.

The thing is, no matter where you are you have to remember that life’s not perfect. And I hate to break it to you, but neither are you. Never have been, never will be. So get over it. Stop trying. Embrace the tough, painful parts, but don’t be so hard on yourself that you miss the good around you. Past you could have used a few pro tips on that one.

So I’m sorry it’s taken you so long to get here, but I’m proud of you for making it. One step at a time, one lesson at a time.

But that’s not permission to stay where you are. This is just the beginning for you. You may be Future Me, but you’ll never be done growing and evolving. So accept that challenge, appreciate how far you’ve come, and keep moving forward.

Never stop growing. Literally and figuratively.

So here’s to a few more Non-Zero Days. You’re killing it so far. I can’t wait to be you someday.