Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Excuse #4: I Can’t Run, I Don’t Have a “Runner’s” Body

This is the fourth part in my 5 part series of why there should be NO excuses to not run. See my first post HERE – all about people who don’t run because they are too busy. The second post can be found HERE – about why you can run even when the weather sucks. The third post, HERE, tackles people who whine about having no motivation to run.

Today we’re going to talk about our perception of ourselves and how this limits us.  There seems to be this assumption that in order to be a runner you have to look like this (or at least be super lean and muscular):

{Source}

Yes, Deena Kastor is a super star and a true running talent. But, it’s important to know that about .0003% of the population actually looks like that (or have that talent).

I mean look at me. I feel like a frumpy giant next to her.

image

The truth is that runners come in all shapes and sizes. If you don’t believe me, go spectate at a marathon and you will see what I am talking about.

In my opinion, it is less important what your body shape or weight is, and more important that you are healthy. I will say this – it is probably a bit easier to run if you are not overweight only because then you are not carrying extra pounds around (this is not rocket science). That said, running is one of the most effective ways to lose weight, so if you are wishing for that, keep up your running practice. This does not mean, however, that you need to be or should be stick thin.

Here are some other reasons you should run even though you don’t have a “runner’s body”:

  • You love to run. It relieves your stress. It keeps you healthy and out of therapy.
  • All runners are created equal, just like all people are created equal, regardless of size, pace, weight, age or distance run.
  • No one is judging you. You are just judging yourself. So, stop it.
  • Running clothes come in all shapes and sizes.
  • By continuing to run, YOU are helping to define what real runners look like.
  • When people say, “But you don’t look like a runner” prove them oh-so-wrong.

Has anyone ever dared to tell you that you don’t look like a runner?

Is not “looking like a runner” something that holds you back?

SUAR

55 comments:

  1. Ha! The first time I ran Chicago, I was passed by runners who were twice my size!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that happens to me all. the.time!

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  2. I got my dad's hefty calves, had 'em as a kid and I know I will never have thin legs. My husband says their intimidating, so I'm sticking with that theory ;)

    When I was picking up my bib for a 5k the ladies working kept telling me to get in the line for the walkers! Ha! I had just run my first marathon a couple months before and was running the 5k with a friend who was a new runner.

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  3. I love this! I am 4'11'' and a solid 140 - that number won't budge no matter what I do. But I run marathons, play soccer, occasionally compete in triathlons, and I work on a farm. My favorite comment in the world is "you don't look like a runner" because I change the way people around me view the accessibility of running. This was a hard lesson to learn but now I'm an avid cheerleader for curvy runners! For some, the sport is still an exclusive club, but I love being a part of the change. Thanks for your "excuses" series - I can still take some notes form this =)

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  4. When I tell people that I am a runner they always say oh yeah you look like a runner. I have bad body image so I try and take it as a compliment even though not one size fits all in running. I will be meeting Deena Kastor next weekend and I can't wait!

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  5. Back when I started C25K (at 240 lbs), I would tell people that most runners were graceful like gazelles, but that I was more like a charging rhino. Nobody ever did tell me I didn't look like a runner, nor did that fact ever hold me back, but I was definitely conscious of my appearance before the weight really started flying off. At that point I didn't care... because I knew it was my ticket to a healthier life.

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    Replies
    1. PS - I think this excuse is probably more of an issue among women, or at least it's vocalized more by women, but I think it can have an effect on men, too. Men typically offer more superficial excuses like, "I'll only run if something is chasing me"; or "I've worked hard to attain this beer belly, I don't want risk losing it by taking up running."

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  6. People have said that 'I don't look like a runner' and my own father refuses to refer to what I do as running (you're just jogging dear, that's not running) - so nice. Not looking like a runner is something that holds me back when I'm having motivation issues.
    I lost 55kg over 18 months by taking up running and dieting after a stressful life event. running has changed my body but it has taken much longer to change the way I think about myself. Most recently due to a house move I'm having to run in a city with lots of other runners around, and I'm not comfortable as most of these are fit young students (it's a University city) whereas I used to run around a small rural village. I rarely met anyone running and if I did they would usually give a friendly nod or a wave. In the city everyone is grimly getting on with it.
    I'm based in the UK and I would say that the issue of running clothes in larger sizes is still an issue here. I'm now small on top and have a firm backside (from the running, swimming and pilates) but still the only running clothes that fit are in the XL size range here and would fall in the UK14 (US10) size and be described as XL. I cannot find loose style running shorts to fit at all, they are not designed for women with hips and an arse. It's also very hard to find clothing that's not pink. this is something that still needs to be developed in the UK.
    The big hurdle to get over, I think, is that you can believe that people are watching you run. mostly they're not, people are very absorbed in their own lives and barely see others at all. when you're a middle aged woman you're almost entirely invisible and this has its benefits. the brain really is the biggest barrier to running for most able bodied people.

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  7. Hi Suar,

    Look at my pictures from my last marathon and you see that I do not have a runners body ;-) https://djaktief.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/moederdagcadeautje-2/
    Do you know the Britisch writer and runner @hemmo. Please take a look http://unitedagents.co.uk/alexandra-heminsley

    She has ran 5 marathons now. I hope to finish my fifth coming sunday in Leiden (The Netherlands) just a month after Rotterdam.

    I love your blog. I always read it and recommend it to others.

    Bye, Dorothé

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  8. I hate this excuse. If you've never been to a race before, then I am sure that it's intimidating. I try to tell people to go spectate just one time, and they will see all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Running is for everybody, and that's why I love it!

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  9. Frankly, I love "not looking like a runner" and then overtaking all those skinny-ass biatches (early not enough coffee yet) when they're hitting the wall and my good child-bearing hips, legs like sturdy young trees, and lets face it, cellulite, are feeling just fine...

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    Replies
    1. I'm curious why you feel the need to refer to women with thin body types as "skinny-ass biatches." I thought the point of this discussion was to acknowledge and appreciate that runners come in all shapes and sizes. Or does this only apply to runners who do not have what's traditionally thought of as a runner's build?

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  10. Only two people have ever told me I was not "built for running". The first was a gym teacher, (when I was 13 years old), and the second was myself, (for the following 17 years). Thankfully I wised up at 30 and learned that anyone with butt muscles is "built for running"!

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    Replies
    1. Stupid gym teacher. I remember being a gymnast in 8th grade. The coach (also a gym teacher) weighed me in at 112 lbs and told me I needed to lose weight

      Delete
  11. I'm less concerned with how I look (check out my post on body image http://todaysthedayilose.blogspot.com/2015/04/accepting-body-image.html ) but I let my head talk me out of pushing myself further because I tell myself that I'm too overweight to do it. I tell myself that I'll be a better/faster runner when I lose X amount of weight. But I know that that is rubbish and just my head talking me out of running.

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  12. Great post! So many people avoid running because of how they think they look. You can't compare yourself to other people. Running is for everyone!

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  13. I am not built like a runner, but I run. THe only way it's ever held me back is by claiming I run...I don't like to say I'm a runner because I don't look like one. I said "I know it doesn't look like it, but I ran a half marathon last weekend" fo ra while...then I just realized all the points you made -- I'm only judging myself. Done.

    I have to confess that I'm a little confused about the picture of you -- incredibly skinny and lean with a "runner's body" --saying that you look like a frumpy giant next to Deena Kastor. I had to look twice to figure out which one was you. That self-depreciating comment was very much a mixed-signal. Why must we do that?

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    Replies
    1. Yes true...in person she is about half my size so even though I'm smallish I felt giant next to her.

      Delete
  14. So true. I just ran my first 10k and first race ever this weekend and it was so fun to see all sorts of people of all different ages, shapes and sizes out there. I passed people who looked a whole lot thinner and fitter than me, and I was passed by people nearly twice my size.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! That seems to be the way that it works. You really can't tell how strong a runner is by his or her size

      Delete
  15. I have a runners body because I run, not because of my "bowl full of jelly belly". I can outrun lots of people with "runners bodies". And I felt the same sense of accomplishment and pride when I ran my first half in under 2:30 as someone who ran their first in under 1:30. Same sense of working really hard and achieving a goal. Only difference is they are waiting for me at the finish line - cheering me on.
    ReneeW.

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  16. Yup, I totally agree with you. Being petite has nothing to do with running. I can't get over how fast people can be who are twice the size of me. It makes me wonder if I need to bulk up.... :)

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  17. People tell me I don't look like a runner all of the time and they'd give me that look of astonishment when I tell them I run. It really used to bother me then one day I realized that the people saying that I don't "look" like a runner were all people who don't run (why should I listen to people who have no idea). I recently started training for my first 50k which is in October.

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  18. When I was in massage therapy school I volunteered at Ironman Florida. My school had the late shift so I gave sports massage to some of the final finishers. I was in awe of the athletes and, yes, they came in all sizes, shapes, ages, etc. That experience inspired me to start running.

    I had a man tell me I didn't look like a runner while we were in the waiting room at my PT's office. I had just had my cast removed after suffering a bad ankle sprain. I proceeded to inform him that I've completed a marathon, multiple half-marathons, too many 10ks and 5ks to count, in addition to multiple sprint triathlons. Needless to say he didn't make any more comments. If I'd still had the cast on, I'd probably have stomped his foot with it. ;)

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  19. I don't think I've ever been told that I don't look like a runner, but I've certainly felt like a "frumpy giant" at races before. I have long legs, which I guess goes with the whole "runner's body" look, but my arms are really long, too, and I can never figure out what to do with them. I feel like an orangutan sometimes (definitely had to google the spelling on that one). Even within the elite world, though, different body types can be seen. I bet if Kara Goucher were standing next to both of you in that picture, she'd be the giant!

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  20. People have implied that I don't look like a runner- can't recall anyone outright saying it- in any case after I grew up and became more self- confident those kinds of remarks stopped getting to me. I just enjoy running too much! If anyone ever told me that I don't look like a runner I would say, "OK, so would you like to chase me?" ;)

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  21. Here's the flipside - I do have a stereotypical runner's body and while I am not injury prone and my body responds well to running marathons, I am not super fast. I look like I am, but I'm not. I do get passed by heavier runners who, it seems to me, are stronger. So the life lesson is don't judge a person by their body type.

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  22. I only look like a runner because I run...

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  23. Amen! I've been on this soapbox for a long time. I hear it all the time "He/She doesn't look like a runner", my response is always "What does a runner look like?" followed by "Do I look like a runner?"

    Thanks for this one, it's right on point!

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  24. my first comment here - love the blog! Yes, I was told this when I was about 15 by a very good friend and this stopped my love of sport for many year. I killed my self-esteem.

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  25. I have a friend who is a phenomenal athlete. She's also an amazing coach to a lot of different athletes at different levels. I was at a party at her house and hanging out with all of these people...and then they started talking running. Dude, if THESE ladies could run? Yeah, I could do it, too. And that was how I learned that runners come in all shapes and sizes. It truly was the turning point for me - I've been told that I actually do look like a runner (usually until they actually see me run, because I run like a duck) but once you've been to ONE race, you know. I've been passed by people twice my AGE, for crying out loud! This is probably the lamest of all excuses, IMHO, but that doesn't mean I didn't use it, too.

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  26. This is such an important post. I've been reading quite frequently about eating disorders among runners because the sport for so long thought that you had to be very thin to be a good runner. Several personal stories I read discussed not eating and obsessing over weight, just to end up injured because their bodies could not sustain running at the weight they were trying to maintain. It's so important to remember that running is about the amazing things your body can do, not what size it is. If you run, you're a runner. End of story. Thanks for the great, important post!

    ReplyDelete
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