I think everybody who knows me-knows that I’m a runner. I mean..I don’t exactly keep it a secret. But every once in a while, I will meet a new person who wasn’t aware of this little addiction of mine. As they give me the “once over” I can see in their faces that they are making snap judgements.
And sometimes I’ll hear these words:
“You don’t look like a runner”
I’ve really spent a lot of time working on not getting rattled when someone says this phrase to me-I think its still a work in progress.
It has me thinking of reasons WHY someone says this. I mean, I know it’s not really meant to be insulting towards me. I realize that sometimes-words can flow out of another’s mouth before they even have a chance to truly consider impact of what they’re saying.
Obviously, I’m not going to just STOP running “because I don’t look like a runner” ..But..It has me wondering…
What DOES a “runner” look like?
What characteristics do “they” all have in common? What image comes to mind when one thinks “runner”?
To get some ideas (besides my own) of how society typically envisions a runner, I decided to google it:
The perception of the runner in our society is one who has a slim body, sometimes painfully so. Twiggy arms laced with taught muscles and long legs finished out with curved calves. Thin weathered faces. A narrow waist with a front side hardened by six pack abs, and a back side of conditioned muscles. Women have small/no breasts, no curves. Or body fat. These are just a few of the stereotypes associated with the “runner.”
Not all Runners….-Are a skin and bones size “0” or “00”.
I am proof of that. I am a tiny girl-but I will be the very first one to tell you that I’m solid. I eat. A lot, actually. More than the majority of my friends. OK, probably more than ALL of my friends.
-Are naturally skinny. I hear all the time “I wish I was skinny like you” There is a huge difference between “skinny” and “workout thin”. I am the latter only because I exercise, eat right, and live a healthy lifestyle. If I didn’t do these things, there is no way I would be the size I am.
-Are born “looking” like runners. Most work for it.
To me…runners come in all shapes and all sizes. Like the human race-some are big, some are tall, some are skinny, and some are small.
No one person on this entire planet is exactly the same. So why does the term “runner” have a stereotype? There are as many kinds of “runners” as there is colors. And they are all shapes, and all sizes.
Looks can be deceiving. I am never going to be the tall thin gazelle that the stereotype proclaims a runner to be. I am 5 foot 1. Ain’t nothin changing that.
Does this make me any less of a runner? No. Would you be able to tell by looking at me that I’m a runner? Maybe. Maybe not.
Brief background on myself: I have never been a “big” girl. At most-In high school, I was a size 6. I started running after high school as a way to start getting into shape. I was thin but had my mother’s genes of large knockers. Lucky me. This was difficult through high school-I was this short girl with literally boobs the size of my head. It wasn’t easy. Anyway-Obviously this posed to be challenging when I stared running. I heard those words of “you don’t look like a runner”. Well thanks. Even though it bothers me… I am not going to stop because someone says something silly to me like that.
Through the years, I have gotten thinner as I began to get more serious about running. I train hard, and try to stick to a healthy diet. I would be lying if I said that at times, I haven’t been obsessed with my weight. Over many, many years of training…I have come to settle on a healthy weight. I don’t feel too big or too small. I eat what I want-within moderation. I am never “on a diet”
You can look at me and tell I’m “athletic”…perhaps you would look at my strong legs and say “runner.”
But who knows? Whatever way you chose…I could honestly care less because I am perfectly content in this body of mine. If you are one of the rare breeds born to look like a runner-don’t judge the others sharing your course. That tiny brunette might kick it up a notch at the halfway mark and beat you.
It is impossible to label exactly what a runner looks like. The last two half/full marathon I ran-I was constantly passing by the men. I KNOW I was pissing this one guy off-Every time he would catch up with me, I would just blow right by him again. I made it into a game where I constantly refused to let him pass me. I could see in his face that he didn’t like this tiny girl kicking his butt, but it was just THAT much more fun for me. I am the underdog, easily dismissed because of my size. So don’t be surprised when this little thing passes you by on the course.
It doesn’t matter what size you are. If you are out there, putting one foot in front of the other while looking slightly uncomfortable as you learn to breathe and run-you my friend- are a runner. You don’t have to meet the stereotype of the anorexic looking elite Kenyans (have a sandwich, would you?)
What does a runner look like? A runner looks like YOU. Yes-YOU. Because ANYONE that’s right ANYONE can be a runner.