Laying it all Bare: You don’t look like a runner #3

(I’ve done a couple of posts before on this topic… Click these links to see #1 and #2 This particular post has been in the works for a while- its been stored in my brain while I mentally worked through how to write it. )

“You Don’t Look Like a Runner-You have boobs!”

Let’s start at the beginning:

I have big boobs.

YEAH. I said it. When I was a teenager? They were GIGANTIC. Of course, way back then, I was allergic to exercise. I was a cheerleader during my mid-teen years (that didn’t mean I liked to sweat though!), and if you would have told me that when i was a little older that I would LOVE when I am SO SWEATY that you could wring out my shirt- I would have told you that you were actually insane.

When I started running (at 18-19), boobs factored into the picture…sports bras (i originally bought COTTON because dri fit just wasn’t a thing yet!), running shirts, every small detail was a factor. My boobs were massive. I’m a small girl-my whole entire life I’ve been a small girl. I’m 5 feet, 1 inch. Having a rack wasn’t really the easiest thing for a small, petite gal!

Growing up, it seemed that the fact that i had a “large” chest dominated every decision I made. I was constantly aware of my body’s every move. To say the least, high school was uncomfortable for me. I actually got into fights with boys who teased me over the size of my breasts…I punched (at minimum) 4 different boys directly in the face for their cruel teasings. Looking back now, I know that I obviously wasn’t comfortable with my body. I hated any comment made or a stare that lasted a *little* too long.

It wasn’t until I became a runner that I became at home in my own skin. It’s funny and amazing what exercise can do for your confidence and your body. As I began to run more consistently, my body naturally lost weight and settled at a more comfortable place for me. My boobs were smaller! I became more self-confident with my strong body.

I always tell people that if you want to get to know yourself, find out what you’re capable of, and test your mind to the breaking point-Become a runner. Once I started running, I became a lot happier with my image and myself: running gave me a part of myself that I didn’t even know was missing-It was like a whole new side of me was created. Running became more than just an outlet. It became a passion. Through running, I learned that I am strong-I can run 20 miles a day like nobody’s business! Because of running, I learned that I should not care what anyone thinks of me-let stupid comments roll right off because they aren’t important in the long run. Much like yoga, does for those who practice it-running centers me and gives me a peace unlike anything else. A way to block the noise.

So…You’re a Runner?

The first few years after I started to run, when I would encounter someone I hadn’t seen since high school, the person would ask if I had a breast reduction. ( I don’t know why people ask such inappropriate questions?) I would delightfully tell them “no, I’m a runner.” 

(No big deal…I made a collage of me, Shalane and Kara..)

But, No matter how many miles I log, I will always have (still a little larger) boobs. I can’t help but notice how the typical female runner is practically concave in the boob-age area. This is not me. It most likely will never be me. All these years of running and “being a runner with boobs” and I’m still sensitive about this topic. As much as I say or think “I don’t care” there are moments when it does bother me. Those moments mostly come when someone has discovered that I run. First, I will see the slight flick of their eyes over my mid-section and then suddenly, I am hearing my favorite phrase uttered to me:

“You don’t look like a runner.” 

Really, I can’t hear it enough. “Please, tell me again!” I would like to shout at them. And because people will always be people, I get some terrific questions thrown at me about being a runner with boobs(I always know when one is coming at me… I have 6th sense for dumb comments.) I will share a few of my favorites with you:

“I saw you running the other day…I said to my friend “Just look at her running WITH THOSE BOOBS.” (I thought to myself…Am I supposed to leave them at home when I go?)

“I just have to ask…How in the world do you run without your boobs knocking you in the face?” (they’re not that big, people can be just THAT obtuse)

“Do you like having big boobs and being a runner?” (This one just makes me want to say something so rude back!)

Isn’t it funny how you can forget some of the good stuff that people say to you but will never, ever forget a stupid offhand comment? I try to let it roll off of me. I remember the lessons the early “me” learned through millions of hours pounding the pavement. I tell myself these things so that I forget about any silly comments and remarks about something as trivial as “appearance.” I remind myself that:

*I am really strong.

*I am pretty fast!

*I should never care what someone else thinks or says about me. I care about being a good wife, a good person, a good friend. OH, and being a good runner.

Being a runner has nothing to do with appearance, as many of you might know. It has to do with the fact that you are out there RUNNING. Whether or not you look like the stick skinny runner is really and truly irrelevant. If you find yourself feeling judged for not looking the typical runner, I want you to tell yourself these things:

-That person is obviously not a runner. DUH. And you ARE.

-YOU are strong. Your legs can take you ALL OVER the place! Their legs probably don’t do that.

-When you get upset about something someone says to you, you’re allowing them the power to make you feel that way. Replace any negative things with the good things about YOU.

Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Your waistline, your shoe size, your bra cup size—> these are not important even one little bit. What IS important is that you are out there, RUNNING! So the next time somebody tells YOU that you don’t look like a runner…invite them along for your next run. That’ll teach them!

Have you ever encountered a “You Don’t Look Like a Runner” Moment? What’d ya do?


45 thoughts on “Laying it all Bare: You don’t look like a runner #3

  1. Pingback: What to Say When You Hear, "You Don't Look Like a Runner" - The Fitness Wire

  2. Pingback: What to Say When You Hear, “You Don’t Look Like a Runner” | HealthyLyfe

  3. I feel ya. I actually got breast reduction surgery a little over 3 years ago (I’m 5’1″ and carried around 32-DDs) and I wish I’d done it sooner. I used to have to wear 3 sport bras if I wanted to do anything remotely athletic or else all that gravity felt like a heart attack from the pulling on my chest.

    I definitely lost some more boob when I started running but in by no means flat. But it’s awesome wearing only one sturdy running bra. 🙂

  4. i love this post because i have big boobs too and i think some people are surprised ive raced the ironman and ran marathons. no matter my weight, my boobs dont go smaller than 32DD…it is SO frustrating to find that perfect sports bra that holds the tatas in. ive had luck lately with moving comfort juno, but nothing else. any recommendations? also im always looking for good REGULAR bras…no padding or pushup, thank you very much VS (why do they even make those type of bras for big boobs?!) but i hope posts like this help educate those who make those type of comments.

    • Thank you Kim!!! You rock!! 🙂 I hope that people stumble upon this over google one day and find it educating! 🙂
      I have a NIKE bra that I was really pricey though…I think about $60? Once in a while, it chafes my back. (if i’m wearing my Camelbak) And my other favorite is a New Balance that I found at Marshalls. I need more good ones though, so I will keep you posted when I find “the mother” of all bras!

  5. People tell me I don’t look like a runner all the time. I am a woman of slightly larger carriage. I usually have some snarky reply like “well how many miles do you log a week?” or “how many PR’s have you crushed this year.” I’m not sure why most people’s perceptions of runners is tall and thin. What I don’t show on the outside is the cardio shape that I’m in. That it takes me sprinting to get my heart rate up to the “orange zone” in OTF. My outward appearance doesn’t show how quickly I return to my resting heart rate. I don’t run 8 minute miles but I just finally broke past the 11:00mm mark and am comfortable in the 10-11mm mark now. I say keep telling me I don’t look like a runner and I’ll continue to prove you wrong,

  6. First I’ll start out saying I’m glad you posted about this topic even though you have previously. You wrote beautifully! Second, those guys and people who gave you drama during your school days … TOTAL JERKS!!! And those who make those kind of statements now to you are seriously lacking people and social skills!!! Though I have fortunately not been confronted with the in your face comments like you have people do look at me with a bit of shock since I run distances because my body type looks more like a sprinter. I’m not the pencil thin tall male marathoner body type. I’m me!!! And you missy are a TOTAL RUNNER!!! I adore ya’ and your running is a daily inspiration!!!

  7. I Love this! So glad deborah helped me find you, and I have actually written similar posts to this on my blog, and I hear you! I am an elite runner, and people think we are just automatically happy with how we look, but thats just not true. I worry just the same as everyone else. So glad you shared this, lets keep spreading these messages!

  8. Great article! Had me laughing so much. You go girl, boobs and all! I’m jealous because I simply don’t have any. We truly come in all shapes and sizes. I have been so self-conscious all my life (one of the reasons being is because I have no boobs) but running has absolutely made me stronger both physically and mentally and I find I worry less about what people think. Thanks for the great write-up!

  9. I think you’re perfect in every way. You are fast. You are strong. You are YOU and that’s the most beautiful part about it. You are a rockin’ runner and have a rockin’ body!! XOXO

  10. I had a physical therapy appointment because my knee hurt from running. The receptionist compared me to the thin, gazelle-like woman standing next to me and said that she looked like a runner and I looked nothing like one. If only it were just my boobs she found fault with but I had the whole fat package. Haven’t been back there since.

  11. I love this post! I’m also bigger in the boob area and not only is it a pain in the butt to deal with when it comes to running, hearing other people’s opinion about it really doesn’t help at all. When I first started running, I was so self conscious about not fitting the mould of the ideal running physique but then I realised that running was all about being strong, and strong comes in so many different forms – not just stick thin!

  12. This is so awesome. Running has definitely helped me to become more comfortable in my own skin. While I haven’t dealt with any of these commons of course I sometimes feel like I don’t look like a runner…but then I realize- who cares?? What matters is that I love it and I feel good doing it. It is just amazing some of these inappropriate things that people have said to you! Love the collage:)

  13. I always say that if you think that there is a runner “type” you just need to come to a marathon-then you will see that runners and marathoners come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the bigger runs are faster than any of the smaller runners, but health is the most important. I’ve encounter a lot of “you don’t look like” comments over the years, especially as I changed size.
    They can suck it.

    • Actually it was that sentiment that got me wanting to run (and run a marathon) in the first place. I watched the start of the 1999 Chicago Marathon on TV and realized after looking at all the runners that most looked like me!

      My sister was running for a while and loved running the Indy Mini Marathon. She’d had five kids so she certainly didn’t “look” like a runner, but she would always grind away and get it done. Back in 2004 she had to have a heart valve replaced and the surgeon said as soon as he saw her heart and lungs he knew that she ran — even the little that she did — because they looked amazing!

      • that is a beautiful story, and I’m so sad for you that you lost your sister. I can’t imagine my life without my own.

        Marathon starts always fire me up. I can pretty much guarantee that after I Watch one start on TV-that I will have the best run that day!

  14. Thank you so much for this post! I’m in the exact same boat as you. I’m 5’2 and well-endowed 🙂 I’m also a runner. Thank you for saying exactly what I have thought over and over. It’s empowering to know I’m not alone 🙂
    PS- I love Enell sports bras! They are especially made for larger boobs and they are very supportive.

  15. If it makes you feel better, in all the years I’ve known you I’ve never noticed your boob size and have always thought of you as a BAD ASS runner! I tell everyone about how far you’ve come as a runner- I think it’s such a great story!!

  16. I love this post! I certainly don’t look like a typical runner, not even close. Your advice is spot on and I love this: “That person is obviously not a runner. DUH. And you ARE.” It’s so true, no runner would ever say any of those kinds of comments!

  17. I’m a few inches taller, but I have a similar build up top and I would love your advice on sports bras. I’ve worn my two go-to bras down to their bare bones (and yes, they permanently stink), but I hang on to them because I have yet to find suitable replacements. My current bras are so worn that I cannot read their style number on the tags (one is Saucony and the other is Under Armour). I need something that will keep me locked and loaded (padded and cause minimal movement), but not cause a ton of chaffing (ouch…I’m already permanently scarred). I’ve tried a number of different brands, but they never seem to offer enough support…the mirrors in the gym can attest to that 😉 Any suggestions you can offer would be much appreciated!

    • My two favorites at the moment are a NEW Balance one that i found at MARSHALL’S (of all places!) YEARS ago..It has never ever chafed me and I am in love with it still. Another fave is a Nike sports bra…I’m not sure of the name but it was ALOT of money…I think maybe $60? Thats a heck of a lot for a sports bra! But i love it. I have had terrible luck with moving comfort, and I haven’t found an Under Armour one that i love, either, although I have both of those.
      I’m also permanently scarred…right under my rib cage seems to an extra sensitive area!

  18. I’ve had a couple of situations like that. I’m heavy and I carry all of my extra weight in my midsection. If you took a picture of just my legs and then my top half and tried to match them up, they wouldn’t! Even when my weight is down I still kind of have a bit of a bigger midsection. So last year I was training with a group for the Chicago Marathon, and one weekend I had to go out early by myself because my son had an XC meet and I wanted to get there. I stopped for a drink (the runs are supported) and this fast guy, who I already knew was kind of a jerk, muttered…”Why are you wasting your time”.

    Well, dude, I guess it could be 1) I love to run, 2) I love running marathons, 3) I’m running to raise money in honor of my sister who died of breast cancer and 4) In the last several years I’ve been through a divorce, the death of my sister, and a bad relationship that went 2 years too long (I’m now happily married to a wonderful woman), and I deal with those things by eating, unfortunately. I may not “look” like a runner, but I run like hell!

    • I really want to punch that dude RIGHT in the face. That is AWFUL. I’m so shocked that one runner said that to another. It actually shocks me. I’m so sorry for you..and for all runners who have ever had this happen to them.

      It seems like running has been like a rock for you! you have been through some really hard stuff, I’m glad that you are happily married now!
      HUGS over the loss of your sister..My SIL is running Boston this year, too in memory of her aunt who recently passed away from cancer. Cancer is terrible…but amazing of you to raise money in memory of her!

      Keep running like HELL!!

  19. I guess I’m lucky in that, in many ways, I do look a lot like a “typical runner” so I’ve never had to deal with people’s ignorant comments. I’m naturally thin, and I’ve just been that way my whole life. It’s genetics, my mom is really thin too.

    I always find it so interesting to hear from people who had the opposite problem – I would have been so jealous of you growing up, because I had no boobs and it made me feel unfeminine and boyish. Even today, there are sometimes clothes that don’t look as flattering on me because I don’t have as much of a chest to fill them out. I always felt so self-conscious about being flat-chested. It’s so interesting to know that girls who had the boobs I wanted went through the same issues!

    It’s so true that wherever you are, the grass is always seems greener on the other side 🙂

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