As runners and athletes, you probably follow bloggers and social media personalities who love to post motivational “fitspo” messages on the regular, am I right? And, of course, that means seeing a lot of what we think is the perfect runner’s body.
Let’s not pretend that the cover of every Runner’s World magazine I’ve seen since I started running in 2002 doesn’t include a lean man or woman, who looks FAST.
Funny story…some of them are…plenty of them have been models who don’t actually run that much.
What used to serve as harmless messages of motivation, has in some cases turned into a dangerous source of body comparison and the internalization of an image of perfection.
However, much like Dorothy’s slippers, you’ll find no matter what goals you meet, miles you run, or pounds you lose — “perfection” has been within you all along. I hope you’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz, otherwise I probably sound a tad deranged right now!
Does running change your body?
Yes. But running alone will often not get you the goals you seek, as much as I wish it were true.
But here’s the crazy thing…most long time runners will tell you that while weight loss might have gotten them started it didn’t take long for that to become an afterthought. Instead they were surprised to find a new focus on how strong, healthy and fit they felt.
What is A Runner’s Body?
Unfortunately one of the big issues I find with this image is that many runner’s refrain from owning that they run and love this sport because of an idea that they need to look a certain way.
I’ve realized over the years that the women who really make me want to be a runner aren’t professionals, they’re the everyday athletes who have chosen to run despite the obstacles of life.
My idols are women with post children bellies that run proudly in a sports bra because their body is strong.
My idols are parents pushing jogging strollers that add 50+ pounds to their effort, hamper their arm swing and eliminate quick direction changes.
My idols are crossing the finish line in a tutu with the sweeper van on their heels and a smile that says “screw you I’ll get there when I get there”.
So yes,the runners who truly squeeze my heart aren’t 8% body fat and trophy holders, they’re the imperfect partners I pass everyday that sometimes grimace when giving me a head nod, but never fail to keep moving forward.
Not to say I don’t find Kara, Desi and all the rest of the elite runners amazing…but I’m not running to win a world major so the inspiration there isn’t the same.
Runner’s Bodies are strong and curvy like MetroDisco.
Need some motivation to start as a heavier runner? Trust me you won’t be alone and you are absolutely a runner. There is no size.
And yes indeed, we even get OLDER!!!
Want to start running over 50? You absolutely can, checkout these tips for masters runners.
Runner’s Bodies are thin, short, tall, muscled, soft, young, old, black, white and every other skin tone. It’s easy to think this isn’t true, but show up at any start line and I challenge you not to see a whole wide world of bodies.
How to Own Your Runner’s Body
Here are three tips that have helped me, and my clients:
- stop body bashing/shaming
- start loving and appreciating our bodies
- be the change you want to see
Energy you spend on criticizing yourself is wasted, brings you down and absolutely impacts your performance. It’s why you hear so much about mantra’s while running!
1. Find strength and appreciation for your body right now
(not in 3 weeks, 6 months, or a year –NOW).
You may look at yourself sometimes and wish that you had a different body, or maybe you don’t think you’re getting anywhere with your fitness routine. These are normal frustrations — especially for those of you who are athletes — however, frustrations or not, this energy needs to be re-purposed and channeled for good not evil.
Stop looking at your body for all that it doesn’t do for you, and focus on all that it does do for you.
Put this into action
You know those thighs you despise?
Well, those thighs that you stare at and wish were maybe thinner or stronger, are the same thighs that get you through a half or full marathon, a challenging set of hills on your bike, and also get you from point A to point B all day, every day. So, seriously, they deserve love and not hate.
This goes for any (and every) single part of you, because your body is what gets you through each workout, day, crisis, and more. By showing the parts of you that you normally got nothing but hate for some unconditional loving, you take the first step to making peace with your bod.
Your body is amazing and you’ve got to make sure you are thankful for all that it gives you in order to have a healthy, functional relationship with it. Start the love and start it NOW.
2. Break the shaming cycle.
Have you ever heard the sayings, “you can’t fix hatred with more hatred” or “only love can conquer hate”? — Well, these sayings are very true.
So, we’ve talked about making peace with your body, by acknowledging all that it does for you, right?
Let’s talk about how this not only applies to your physical self, but, also to your soul. I’m not going to lie to you — I will put my hands up in the air — I will admit the following to you right now:
I have shamed others.
I have judged others.
I have said and thought things about others which I should have known better than to say or think.
You want to know what any of this ever did for me? I’ll tell you right now: All this ever did was hurt me more.Start appreciating your body (imperfections and all) immediately - @beetsperminute Click To Tweet
We cannot possibly love ourselves fully when we shame/judge/act sanctimonious towards other people — plain and simple. Putting down another person’s physical appearance, doesn’t improve our own.
All that putting other people down does is send negative energy racing through our bodies which comes back to us threefold. Our negative body talk is like a mirror, so when we shame another person’s body, we’re really acting out our own shame.
Put this into action
The next time a co-worker, friend, or complete stranger says something negative about their body, instead of chiming in (or worse, agreeing silently) let them know that they need to cut themselves a little slack and learn to love what they see.
Trust me, even though this is piece of advice is unsolicited (and may get a “um mind your business” look), it will resonate with them. Like I said, trust me on this one.
3. Stop being so concerned with your physical appearance and start being more concerned with WHO YOU ARE as a person.
You know what I’m talking about with this one.
We are so much more than our physical bodies — they are a shell containing everything that makes us who we are — but make no mistake — they are only PART of who we are.
This truly incorporates steps one and two, because when you appreciate your body and stop the shaming cycle, you can see yourself entirely. This enables you to connect with others positively and work toward loving yourself fully.
Put this into action
This step can be tough to put into action at times, because, let’s face it, there’s a misconception that what we look like and the way we present ourselves to the world is actually WHO we are as people.
Most of our lives, we spend time doing things which contribute to our physical appearance or the image we present of ourselves, and these things eventually take over our identity.
One of the best ways to see yourself for who you are, is to really ascertain how honest you are with yourself.
- Are you doing things because you are passionate about them or are you doing them because you feel like you have to?
- Do you build yourself up when you need it most or do you tear yourself apart?
- Question yourself honestly and often. Ask yourself why you are doing something and be honest with yourself as you search for the answers.
If what you’re doing doesn’t feel good or feel right, stop doing it. his honestly will enable you to really know who you are and what you stand for. This is essential to living a happy and fulfilling life.
If nothing else, please remember this.
Love starts from within yourself — so love yourself with the same passion that you love anyone or anything else — and you will truly be the change you want to see. Start each day with an affirmation about the person you are, recognize what’s good about you and how you’re going to contribute your good nature to the universe today.
Scrolling through Instagram depending on the day I feel motivated to work hard or frustrated I’m not making the same speed progress or seeing fabulous abs like friends.
- THIS is when you come back to these tools.
- THIS is when you find that by using them you start to make progress in ways you never imagined.
- THIS is when you start to learn what progress really matters.
If your focus is on the negative, it’s nearly impossible to make progress in your training. By focusing each day on what you did well in training or how you learned from a bad run, you will make progress much faster and ENJOY it more!
Do you every struggle with fitness body comparisons?
What fitness achievement makes you feel most proud of your body?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish