A few weekends ago I ran the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day 5K. I managed to PR by a minute, which is great. However, I didn’t tell the whole story… I feel bad about that, because I’m all about honesty. So here it is: I started the morning feeling great, but by the end of this run, I felt like crap. Absolute crap.
My calves were on fire from running up the hill. The previous day’s 10mi caught up to me, and I was just so incredibly tired. I was really hot from the temp and humidity, so I took my shirt off during the run. At that point in time, I didn’t give a shit what I looked like. By the time I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t even bring myself to smile or put my arms up, as I normally do. I was just thankful to be done and be that much closer to free Powerade, pizza, and beer.
I’m not even a drinker, so the fact that I wanted beer tells you a lot about how I felt about this race.
Post-race, I always look forward to the email announcing when finish line photos are ready for downloading. This run was no exception. Sadly, I was severely disappointed by my photos. The course photographer caught four photos of me looking… tired. And squishy. And miserable.
My first thought when I saw these photos was, “OH my GOD I am FAT. I have a triple chin! I look so bottom-heavy. My arms look fat. GROSS.”
My second thought was, “Jesus, I wish I had put my shirt back on. I’m having a serious nip problem… so embarrassing!”
My third thought was, “Goodness, I look as exhausted as I felt…”
Then I got really upset with myself – as in… I actually made myself cry. Then I had a minor attitude adjustment and thought, “I’m levitating in this photo… and I PR’ed. These are good things. I need to be nicer to myself.”
I struggle with negative self-talk on a daily basis. I’m very harsh on myself, especially when it comes to my appearance. I gained 30 pounds in six months at a very stressful job and haven’t been able to lose it for three years. I’m very sensitive about it. I wear spandex because I run and go to the gym 6 days per week, but I also wear spandex because anything with a waistband is torture. I have days when I feel slender and attractive, but I have a lot more days when I feel fat and gross.
Mind you, I wouldn’t actually consider myself fat, even when I call myself fat. I HAVE fat… most of us do. According to my BMI, I am overweight. Whenever my weight comes up (I talk about it a lot even though I’m embarrassed – as if talking about it will shame me into doing more to fix it), people are surprised that I weigh what I do.
For the record, I weigh between 170 and 175 on any given day, and my BMI is 27.4. My Fitbit Aria scale last recorded my fat percentage at 38.6%.
I get a variety of reactions:
- Really? You hide it so well.
- You don’t look it.
- Really? But you run a lot!
That last one pisses me off. I mean, THANK YOU for recognizing that I run a lot. But just because I run more than your average person doesn’t mean I should weigh less, or that I should be a damn stick figure. My quads and hamstrings are hard muscle, and my butt is getting there. I have 8-pack abs under my muffin top. I have baby biceps under the fat on my arms. I know that muscle “weighs more than fat” (which it really doesn’t… a pound of fat and a pound of muscle are both still a pound), but the point is this:
I have muscle, which is more dense than fat and takes up less space. But I have fat sitting on top of it that I’m having a hard time shaking. I weigh more than I would like to. HOWEVER, I don’t believe in starvation. I don’t believe in restriction. I think counting calories is a chore, and I already do enough chores that I’m not interested in adding another. I believe I’m an adult and should be allowed to eat whatever I want… god knows I didn’t sign up for this adulting bullshit, and one of the good things about it is eating cookies for breafast. SO BE IT. I have a very hard time with portion control. I have a hard time balancing junk food with healthy food. I eat my feelings. I eat when I’m bored. I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I like the flavor and bubbles in Diet Coke, and drink it several times per week. I have a sweet tooth.
This is my reality. Despite all of this, I still have a runner’s body. I didn’t really believe that until I saw this stupid fucking picture (I like to keep it real here) and reminded myself that I ran 10mi one day and then a 5K the next day. I am bad ass. Further…
I AM a runner, therefore I HAVE a runner’s body.
It took some serious work to talk myself into it, but I posted the best of the four photos to my Instagram account… I feel anxious about posting it again here, but here we go:
And I used these hashtags:
#ihavearunnersbody #sportsbrasquad #strongissexy #healthyisbeautiful #runner #running #girlswhorun #girlsrunthingsbetter #runlikeagirl #training #halfmarathontraining #halfmarathon #5k #roadrace #finishline
Then something happened that I didn’t expect…
… another running Instagrammer reposted my image. On I Have A Runner’s Body, the repost got 716 likes and 31 comments.
For the record, Dorothy Beal over at Mile Posts runs this lovely, inspiring Insta feed and her blog post and repost of my picture on Insta inspired me to write this.
As a result, several new people followed the link through to my Instagram account, commented on my original post, and some even followed me. More importantly, the outpouring of support in the comments on both Instagram posts had me buzzing for days.
Only ONE comment was negative, and it was focused on the fact that I’m about to heel strike. To that woman I say, “So what? Any pain I feel from running this way is my problem. You do you, and I’ll be over here doing me, thankyouverymuch.”
Another woman commented calling the troll out for being a troll, which I was grateful for, because I wanted to do it myself, but had to back off and sleep it off.
So long story short… after seeing this photo that I STILL think is awful, I have to say…
I AM A RUNNER.
I HAVE A RUNNER’S BODY.
My special message to you is this: you can be fat, you can be thin, you can be average, you can be muscular, you can be funky-shaped. You can be a heel-striker, you can swing your arms too far across your body. You can run with your hands flopping around, you can run with your tongue hanging out of your mouth, you can wear cotton. No matter what body type you have, no matter if you look funny when you run, no matter if you’re doing what others perceive as all the wrong things… if you’re getting out there, YOU ARE A REAL RUNNER.
After all, there’s no such thing as a fake runner.