“You Don’t Have a Runner’s Body”

I’m really proud of myself as of late. There are a multitude of reasons, some of which are easy to explain and others which don’t really lend themselves to words that easily, but suffice it to say that I almost kind of like me right now. It’s a good thing to feel, that self-liking thing.

One of those reasons falls in line with the way I’m able to move and exercise and run since my back procedure. I feel more like me every time I get out there and run or have a good workout at the gym or cuss at keep up with Jillian Michaels and her darn 30 Day Shred or hold a yoga pose that, just months ago, I wouldn’t have been even able to think about, let alone hit and hold. I feel amazing. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel like me.

And so, I’ve been talking about my return to physical health with people — friends, acquaintances and new people alike. Recently, I mentioned that I had been out for a run that morning and the sky had been beautiful. Someone whom I don’t know all that well — and now no longer care to — replied, “You run? Huh. I wouldn’t have known it. You don’t really have a runner’s body.”

Oh.

On the one hand, I suppose I don’t have a runner’s body. I look nothing like the thin, svelte, lean-muscled females depicted in all of the running inspiration pins on Pinterest. I don’t. In fact, I created a board that specifically tries to keep the crazy thinspiration out that I see in so many of those pins — even though all of the photos of runners show, well, thin people. I’m not running to become the thinnest woman on the planet. I’m running to find my strength, my fitness, myself again. Yes, it’s nice that in doing so I have lost 21 pounds since January and 19 inches. That’s a bonus. But when I’m out there, feet thumping along the pavement of our neighborhood and its many, many hills, I feel like I can do anything, be anything, accomplish whatever I put my mind to despite my pants size or the measurement of my hips. So, no, I don’t have a “runner’s body,” if we’re comparing me to the Pinterest-pretty runners.

On the other hand, I sure as heck have a runner’s body. I have feet. I have strong legs that sometimes get tired while running but mostly move as I tell them to. I have hips that burn when I run up yet another hill, but carry those legs up the hill. I have a torso — and a functional back — that hold my neck straight, my head high, help move my arms as run. I have a mind that argues with me sometimes but often chooses the right thought process. “Yes, yes, rest of the body, it’s cold out but less than five minutes into this run all the parts will be warm and toasty and it will be fine. Now fingers, lace up those shoes and get out there.” Or even, “Well, yes, we could go the shortcut back to the house now, but you’re just feeling that way because you’re a bit tired since the kids were up and the dog is sick and life is never-ending. If you finish this run, you’ll feel better than you do at this particular moment. Keep going.” And sometimes even, “You know what, it’s the right decision to stop here today. Go ahead.” And so I do. I listen. I feel. I keep going and sometimes I stop. I have all of the parts necessary to have a “runner’s body.”

Of course, attitudes like this are what keep so many — including myself at various times over the years — from getting out and running or walking or whatever it is that their brain is trying to tell them would help them feel a little better. I am well aware that my neighbors must think I’m nuts, running to and fro in our neighborhood, especially those that live on our half block as I hit it about four times per two mile run. I feel uncomfortable running past teenagers, because I remember thinking and saying things about overweight people who “tried” to “run” without a “runner’s body” when I was young. You see, I had a runner’s body back in the day, before three children and a back injury and various health problems and fear of comments. And now, I don’t. But I still run.

All of these things ran through my head to say to this woman that day. I could have brought up my injury. I could have down-played it and said that I was just getting back into it after years off. I could have said, “Oh, well it’s only two miles at a time right now. Nothing big.” I could have been super snarky. I could have been downright mean. I could have said a million and one things. Instead I said, “Oh, well, thank you.”

I may never have a runner’s body. I may never be the size I was pre-kids. I may never run a half-marathon, and I certainly don’t imagine I’ll run a full marathon. I may never make it past three miles at a time. I may never look the way people think I should. I may never be honored as a Woman of the Year for my athletic pursuits. I’ll never be on the front of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. But I’m me. I feel like me. I look like me. And that’s pretty darn awesome, if you ask me.

No, I Don't Have a Runner's Body

 

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11 Replies to ““You Don’t Have a Runner’s Body””

  1. My cousin runs half marathons. And doesn’t have a “runner’s body”. She is amazing and so are you. I have absolutely no desire to run. I sucked at running the mile in gym class in freaking elementary school. The thought of running now gives me cold sweats. So you go on with your awesome self.

  2. Love this post!!! I have watched and read and followed along with all the bits you shared online as you fought this past year to get back to being the You you were pre-back injury. You SHOULD be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished! I know your determination has inspired me many times and my back injury wasn’t nearly as bad.

    As far as “a runner’s body” goes, I will never have one by that commenter’s definition – am I’m quite okay with that. I am running for bragging rights. I am running to feel proud of myself. I am running so I look as sexy on the outside as I feel on the inside – and damnit, that means I’m keeping my curves! lol

    So happy you’re feeling You-ish again and that you wrote this to help everyone who is still finding to hit their own strides.

  3. You are such an inspiration because you are real. You aren’t the extremist dieting, hitting the gym for 2 hours, type of woman. You juggle your family and work but still make the time for you. You don’t hide the struggles you face as a runner. I truly admire your journey because I’ve never been a runner or had a “runner’s body” either but I’m doing it for me. I’m trying light pole by light pole to figure this thing out. It’s hard but I know doing this it’ll be worth it. Please don’t stop!

  4. I’m feeling inspired! Might have to get out there and pound some pavement. Haven’t done it in a long time but feeling like I can do it again. Thanks!

  5. I’ve been running and working with a trainer for over a year, and I still weigh over 200 lbs., so you can imagine my starting point. I’ve done 5k runs, a women’s quarter marathon, and a few obstacle runs (Kiss Me Dirty and Warrior Dash). I’m a total rock star in exercise, putting in and tracking more hours than a lot of skinnier folks. Do I still walk during my runs, yes, but do I finish, YES. If I go to a new gym I get looks, but I don’t care anymore, been there, done that. I’m not embarrassed of my fat ass anymore, life is too short. I have a few favorite quotes that get me through, “Strong is the new skinny” and “Fall down seven times, get up eight”-Japanese proverb
    Keep running! I should start a pinterest board of differently sized and abled people exercising.

  6. LOVE this! Thank you for writing this! I struggle with the same thing, only insert “cyclist” or “cycling” where you have written “runner” and “running”.
    Your post hit just about everything I’ve felt about my new-found love of a particular form of exercise very nicely. Totally sharing this.

  7. Like one of your previous commenters, I have nowhere close to a “runner’s body” — at around 180 lbs, I ran a half-marathon last November; earlier this year, at 185 lbs, I participated in a 12-man team that ran a 200-mile 36 hour relay (I ran around 12 of those miles). It doesn’t matter how you look, it just matters that you do it.

    My favorite “runner’s body” story is this — I have a friend who cannot do cardio because she has a connective tissue disorder. She is naturally very very thin. She worked at one of the exchanges when I was doing the relay race, and she said a man approached her and asked if she was a runner. When she was telling me this story, she said, “Uh, do I look like a runner?” And I laughed because she was so serious about it, and because she knows that my body IS a runner’s body.

  8. I love this post. I absolutely agree with you about the pinterest boards, and now I’m going to follow your lead and just unfollow those boards.
    I have run on and off for the past 10 years, but have bad knees. I’m so glad I found this post— my plan is to slowly strengthen the muscles and tendons around my knees so I can get back to slow jogging this upcoming year. I like to run for therapy; it really clears my head.

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