Ihave a new girl crush. Her name is Lauren Fleshman and she rocks. She’s a professional runner and this is how she describes herself, “I’ve won state championships, NCAA titles, USA Championships and finished as high as 7th in the World so far. My plan is to compete professionally through the 2016 Olympics, beat a bunch of people, try to set PR’s from 800m up to the marathon, and have a hell of a good time doing it and writing about it.”
Being a professional athlete she is nothing like me but her approach to life, shared through her blog posts and other articles, has resonated with me. In fact the quote I used as a touchstone for my last post about recovering from injury came from a larger piece she wrote on her website. Her writing illustrates that some problems are universal. I could relate to how frustrating an injury can be even if I don’t have a “fastest runner in the universe” title on the line. Her running and her performance aren’t what make me a fan though. It’s her attitude. She has some great viewpoints on supporting other people, body image, training, recovery, balance etc. Oh and did I mention that she’s funny?
One of the articles she wrote for Runner’s World magazine is called, “In Case You Thought I was Normal.” In it she describes her quirky overreaction to thinking she had once again injured her foot during a run.
I pulled a U-ey on the drive home and beelined for the hippy smoothie shop where I ordered a 24-ounce “Bone Builder” that tasted like chalky halvah drenched in OJ. I rushed home, skipped the shower, and scurried into bed where I elevated my foot on a pillow and willed myself to fall asleep so I could produce the maximum amount of growth hormone as quickly as possible. I lay there popping calcium chews, sipping my chalk smoothie, and imagined tiny elves healing my foot the way Deena Kastor taught me. This was my day until my [emergency] PT appointment in the afternoon, where I was politely informed that there was in fact nothing wrong with my foot. A tight peroneal muscle was pinching [a] nerve which was the culprit of my referred pain.
Her overreaction is understandable given the number of times she has been injured. She describes her fear about letting herself get too excited, wanting something too much. Again I can relate. I am ashamed to admit but there is a part of me that thinks if I let the universe know I want something too much, or, for example, that my recovery is going well, something will come along to set me back. Almost as a warning to not get too cocky. Case in point hours after I posted On the Verge of Recovery I landed flat on my back after slipping on some ice. I immediately went into WTF mode thinking that all was lost and I was facing many more months recovering from the fall. Happily while I did miss a workout or two my body bounced back quicker than I dared hope.
I love Lauren Fleshman’s writing because she doesn’t hold back from telling the truth even when it isn’t very pretty. Although she’s generally writing about running she’s does it in such a way that it is accessible to most people. She does what I hope to do with my writing; explore life’s seemingly simple moments for their hidden complexities and universal truths.
In her article Do I look like a man? she ponders what it means to be feminine and the many shapes and sizes a female body comes in. After she models a brand of fitness wear on a NY runway someone on Facebook comments that “she looks like a man.” In turn she writes:
His remark stuck with me for several days, like a bruise, and eventually I realized it wasn’t about me. I began to think bigger, and think about change. At what point does physical strength become a trait reserved for men? When exactly do you cross the line? Is it the same point where courage becomes having balls? The same point where getting it done becomes manning up? Why is there no female corollary for these terms? And why do I, as a feminist, continue to use the dude ones?
When you sign up on Fleshman’s website to get her latest posts you can also fill in your real world address. When you do she sends a “fancy fan club card … that gives you special privileges, 90% of which have not even been invented yet.”
On a whim I decided to put my address down. I laughed out loud when I received my fan card in the mail. Something about getting a piece of mail that is neither a bill or a flyer is charming in itself. But anything that gives me license to use more cowbell will win my vote every time. If you are in need of a little bit of inspiration check her out. She’ll make you laugh, she’ll make you think, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to recognize a little bit of yourself in her story.