I have a confession to make. When I started running — I mean, really running, like training for half marathons and clocking 15-20 miles a week and regularly hitting double digits on my weekend runs — I secretly thought my body would magically transform.
Even though I have the exact opposite body type, and I know how genetics work, I still had a glimmer of hope that I’d suddenly turn into one of those sinewy, lanky, gazelle-like runners who I’d see at races or in my running magazines, all thin limbs and washboard abs.
Call it naiveté. Or wishful thinking. Or complete denial.
Whatever it was, it was completely unrealistic.
The reality is that running has clearly made my body stronger and faster and powerful; but sinewy, I am not. But then again, I never was. Instead, my legs have gotten more muscular and bulky, which I know is what gives me the power to run fast and carry me over longer distances. But for someone who has battled self-esteem and body image issues her whole life, it’s still kind of hard to reconcile (and it makes it tricky to find pants that fit well). And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that all the miles I’ve put in still have not erased the dimples of cellulite hanging out near my hips, or that I don’t cringe at how my tummy still hangs over the waistband of some of my running tights and shorts.
Yes, I know I am being ridiculous. Yet there are still some mornings when I pull on my running capris and look at myself in the mirror, and the first things I zero in on are my thighs. And I think, Ugh.
When instead, I know I should be thinking, Wow.
Because a year ago, I never thought I was capable of running a half marathon, and here I am, getting ready to run my second in less than two weeks. I’m lucky to have these strong legs to get me over the finish line – even though they’re not lean and lanky like a stereotypical “runner.” And really, I’m fortunate to have a body that is able to run in the first place.
Isn’t that all that matters? Does it really make a difference what my thighs look like?
I’m finally realizing the answer to that last question is NO.
The reality is that there is no such thing as the perfect “runner’s body.” We runners come in all shapes and sizes, and you don’t have to have one of those lean and mean physiques to be fit and healthy …. or a competitive runner. Runners are tall and short, overweight and thin, stocky and average. We have short legs and long legs and everything in between. But our body shape, and what we look like on the outside, does not define who we are as runners.
I may not have a typical runner’s build, but you know what I do have? Willpower. Determination. Dedication. Strength. And a bit of stubbornness. And those are just as important as genetics, in my book.
Okay, so now on to some lighter – and much more exciting – news!
I am featured in the October issue of Women’s Running magazine!
As some of you may remember, I was the “Blogger on the Run” on the magazine’s website over the summer, which was a HUGE honor. So you can only imagine my reaction when they said they’d like to include my little blog in an upcoming print issue!
A big thank you to the team there – I’m truly honored to be included with such incredible company (in fact, one of the bloggers I’ve followed for a long time, Anne from Fannetastic Food, was featured the month before me! Totally crazy!)
Although I think Buddy may be the most excited. He’s been telling everyone, I’m in a magazine, I’m in a magazine!
Thanks again, Women’s Running!
Runners: Anyone else struggled with their body image?