I have written before about people’s reactions to finding out I’m a runner. To be honest, it’s not something I widely advertise. I don’t walk around with the introduction “Hi my name is Nicole and I’m a runner.” (That would be odd and I would be a real weirdo.) But there are times when I tell a new person that I run and then I see their eyes light up with surprise as they try to hide it. Through the years, I really have tried to NOT let it bother me or let myself be surrounded by negativity. But, there are times when it feels just plain old judgmental. Unless you’re a Miss American contestant…Nobody likes being judged solely on their looks…
A few weeks ago, I ran the “Moose on The Loose” half marathon. The race had three options that a runner could choose from: a 4k, a two man relay, and the half. Runners had two options for number pickup: Go the day before to grab it at the sponsoring store, Runner’s Alley, or go early on race morning. Since I like to sleep in as late
be lazy on Sundays as I possibly can, I picked up my number the day prior.
When I walked in the door of the store, the sales rep/greeter in the front asked me, immediately before I could open my own mouth if I was there to pick up my number for the 4k. Zero hesitation. Zero.
I later laughed with my girlfriend about the shocked look that popped up on Mr Assumptions face as I said “I’m here to pick up my number for the half marathon.” You should have seen him try to hide his surprise…It was pretty comical to see him tell me what part of the store it was in. I walked away and couldn’t help but feel a quick pang of hurt/anger towards this man because he had automatically dismissed me as either:
-someone who isn’t ready to do a half marathon so they chose the 4k
-someone who doesn’t look like a runner.
(I would like to pause here and add for one second that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with only running the 4k option.. I simply was snap judged by own appearance and that is what this story is about. Just wanted to clarify that!)
The thing is…I know I may not look like the typical runner. I get it. I have curves (as much as I hate to admit it) …And I like cheese and chocolate and wine and beer. GASP! ”Runners don’t eat those things” people will say to me as I am eating cheese with my wine. Ummm. Yes, yes they do. And they are delicious. #getyohandoffamycheese!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Not all runners are skin and bones. Looks can be deceiving. I am “workout skinny”. What does that mean? It means that I run 55-65 miles a week at a high velocity. I have muscles. I have strength. I live a very healthy and active lifestyle. I am a runner. I eat. I live. I run..it’s a cycle that I am happy to repeat.
Runners come in all shapes and sizes: As I waited for Boston to start last week, I sat among 360 other runners who came in varying degrees of proportions. My BFF that morning was a lovely lady named Mo from Florida. This was Mo’s second Boston. Mo told me all about her running career and all the races she has run. She was the nicest lady and we chatted all morning long while we waited for the start. I’m actually really mad I didn’t take a selfie with her because she was super cool!
When you look at Mo, you might have seen a “larger lady”…but who cares? She hauled a** out there and broke 5 hours.. And hey, some of my fittest-appearing-teammates did not hit that number last week…
I obviously knew she was a runner…I mean.. we were waiting for the start of the marathon together. BUT. What if we were somewhere else and I hadn’t known, though. Let’s say…what if we were side by side in a running store shopping for a new outfit for Boston and hadn’t spoken a word to one another. Would I have known then? No.
Could I have possibly jumped to conclusions just as that sales clerk did and thought to myself “this lady doesn’t look like an experienced runner/she must be brand new to running/looking for a way to lose weight.” YES. I could have thought all of those things. And I would’ve been WRONG, and that is extremely unfair.
So my lesson to you is this: don’t judge others too quickly. Think before you speak-there are no take backs with words that are spoken aloud and you never know who’s feelings you could accidentally hurt. I have never forgotten some particularly painful childhood taunts(and I bet you have a set of your own) and would absolutely loathe myself for making someone else feel that way.
The day after I had my encounter with Mr. ASSumptions….I happened to win my age division at Moose on The Loose. It felt pretty cool to ‘Not Look Like A Runner’ and be a winner.
So never dismiss the girl with boobs who stands all of 5’1 at the starting line. Actually, what am I talking about??? Go ahead and dismiss her…she has already figured out how to kick your butt seven ways to Sunday for the win, anyway.❤️