Have you ever seen a fat runner? I think I’ll take up running because no one who runs all the time is fat. And if there is a fat runner, they must be some kind of unicorn, defying reality. Runners are stereotypically portrayed as fit beacons of health, lean and muscular. Sadly, this was my false logic for starting to run when I huffed and puffed at age 36 while chasing my kid around the back yard. I was what you would call skinny fat. I let myself get totally out of shape, but instead of putting on tons of extra weight, my muscles turned to flab and my belly stuck out a little. But, according to most doctors, I was at a normal BMI, and no one seemed concerned.
Since I’ve been running for some time now, I’ve realized how far from the truth I had been (and I thought I was terrible in my 20s for being a know-it-all). Running is for everyone–fat, skinny, young, and old. In fact, my life goal is to be a 90 year old marathoner and triathlete–no matter how slow I get. I know people of all shapes, sizes, and ages who can kick my butt in a road race which blasts the young, lean, and muscular runner stereotype.
Just go to any local race, and you’re bound to find families running together, fat people, old people, runner friends, and of course the lean serious runners. When I last ran the Richmond Marathon in 2015, I chatted with a woman who was in her 50s, had heart issues, and was overweight. I was shocked that she continued to run, but she said it helped her maintain her fitness and she enjoyed it. In other words, she might not have made it this long if she didn’t run. I wished her well, and then she ran off ahead of me. There are stories like that from all kinds of people, and one of my favorites is from Runners’ World titled Ultra. Mirna Valerio is an ultra runner who averages 11-13 minute miles for a 50K. That is nothing short of amazing, and she’s one of my heroes. You should read the article when you’re finished with this post because she’s awesome and redefining what it means to be fit.
So, to all of you runners out there, no matter your age or your size, keep on running like a unicorn and love your body for what it can do. You’re all magic and an inspiration.