We have all known about the classic runners body for years, slim hips, small chest, long legs. None of which I have. Women are constantly bombarded with images of who is the ideal fitness person, who the ideal runner is, who can run, that only certain bodies can exercise, that if you are a bit on the heavy side you must be trying to lose weight. There is doubt from so many sides of the coin that runners, specifically in this context in which I am writing female runners.
Running isn’t always about being the fastest, sprinting, and being the best. It is a lot more than that. For many it’s a time alone for an hour, it’s a sense of accomplishment, it’s the adrenaline you have from running a race or it’s simply something you like to do with your time. This post is going to outline the doubts that are real in the running world and that should be discussed. People will tell you you don’t look like a runner and you have to remember that spoiler alert: we can all be runners.
My mom who has been running forever, was when one of my teachers said to her “your finally skinny, now you look like a real runner”. Excuse me sir? This isn’t old news, women’s bodies being policed by men. What sparked this post was a memory I had of teachers always telling me I could never run and reinforcing the chubby kid mentality that I had. I read an article in self about a runner who was always “too big” for running despite being an exceptional athlete. She recognized her privilege in the outside running world as being a small woman, but inside the running world it’s a different story.
Why do I relate to this? Who on a good day can maybe do 7:00min per km? (always working to improve) because I understand this and this is a large feminist issue. Running is for certain bodies. I have a friend who is a lot smaller and faster but that doesn’t mean we both aren’t real runners? This idea of “i’m not built to be a runner” is a myth we all must bust.
I only came to this idea after starting running on my own terms, there was always a rhetoric in my personal life that the only purpose for me to run was to lose weight, and for some it is, but for me running means getting to a career I want, it means a time to myself, it means helping my lungs get stronger. I am used to people not believing me when I say I’m a runner, but I’m getting more used to meeting runners are who are just happy to meet other runners. Two of the professors in my department run the blog fit is a feminist issue and it is a space to critically assess the fitness world and beautifully write about the being fit and female. The expectations and doubt surround women daily, you wear too much makeup, you’re fat, you could never do that etc. These are the things women hear and absorb through various avenues of life and thus police their every move whether they are aware or not. Yes certain body shapes can give you an advantage but that doesn’t mean you can’t run or call yourself a runner. Running doesn’t have to mean training for a half, there is not set way to be a runner, if you just want to do two runs a week just do two!
I wanted to write this post because I get it alot, “how can you run so far”, and I catch myself doubting myself, saying “omg why can’t you go faster” and especially before I began running on my own terms, I was very hard on myself just for not being the ideal runner. To me running is not about your body or how you look, if you only clock a few miles a week then so be it! It’s about consistency and different goals for different things and different goals to fit YOUR lifestyle.
Here are a few fun articles if you fancy a read. If you want me to post more about this topic, women in fitness and running, shoot me a message or leave me a comment!