I just returned from my week down at the beach. I feel refreshed, relaxed and thankful that I get to spend time there every year. This year was especially good because my entire family was able to get down. That doesn’t happen often so we enjoyed our time together. I was able to get my weekly runs completed on some nice flat running surfaces, as well as do some strength work in a beautiful park. I used the walk/run interval strategy for my runs as part of my plans to heal my aching achilles and feet. My runs went really well, but I still experienced some pain in my ankles and walking stairs continues to be difficult. I’m continuing this journey and will make an appointment this week to see a physical therapist or doctor to check in on this stiffness and pain.
Last week I talked about making the switch to a Galloway walk/run plan to ensure I am able to complete the New York Marathon. I talked about my struggles in making this switch because my ego keeps telling me I’m less of an athlete if I have to do it this way. This week I’d like to explore a little bit about how media and marketing have contributed to my feelings. While I recognize this is a personal struggle, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that many women are body shamed for not having the perfect runners body. It may not be intentional, but there is that pause when you tell someone you are a runner and they look surprised and/or do the eyes up and down your body. Yup, it happens often and leaves you feeling like you need to then say something in response.
Thankfully, I’ve never been body shammed publicly on runs (that I know of), but there are many women who have been. Women who have been laughed at or had to endure comments from onlookers about how they “may need to up their mileage.” Anyone who runs knows it’s hard enough just to get out there and when you don’t have that perfect runners body it can be even harder. I’m very self conscious about running and always put myself down about it – not fast enough, not looking good today, etc. It actually took me almost two years to be willing to put on a pair of shorts to run outside! I’ve gotten past that at this point and truly just run and tune that inner dialogue out.
Looking at the Galloway method, I’ve come to realize that there are many misconceptions out there about using this walk run interval strategy. I also realize that there are some underlying contributing factors to these perceptions. I’ve actually heard some runners saying, “those Galloway girls are big.” Newsflash, not all Galloway runners are large, overweight, out of shape or beginners. This months Women’s Running magazine, dubbed as “devoted to beginners”, discussed the effective use of walk run intervals for beginners and beyond. It was an interesting read and really outlined the benefits of using this strategy. I think the cover was beautiful and I am NOT in any way personally attacking or body shaming anyone. I’m really just wondering today about our perceptions of runners bodies and how media strongly impacts these perceptions. The gorgeous cover model on this issue had a body very different from the models who normally grace the cover of this magazine. I have a subscription and love this magazine, but wonder why. Why is it that the magazine devoted to beginners and walk run intervals has a cover that is different from all the others?
It’s very disheartening when you are trying to feel good about yourself when you are faced with these types of images linked to certain types of activities. Runners come in all body sizes and shapes. Go to any race and look around and you will soon feel better. There are runners of all sizes and shapes and most are very welcoming and encouraging. Women’s Running magazine is well aware of the feelings of women runners who do not have the perfect runners body. Recently, they featured a plus size runner on their cover and she spoke candidly about her feelings of looking at magazines and not finding herself represented in any of them. My question then is why does featuring a curvy woman runner became an “event”? Why is this not the norm to include all types of running bodies on the cover of a running magazine? There are many of us out there running and wanting to improve our health that do not have the perfect runner body. Shouldn’t we be equally represented on the covers of running magazines and not seen as an occasional event.
Many women have body issues, this is a known fact. Yes, we are personally responsible for our choices and how we deal with these issues. Personally, I choose to recognize that fitness comes in many different forms. There is something out there for all of us and as long as we are moving it’s all good. This week I am proud of myself for using the walk run interval strategy to get my miles done. I ran them proudly and got in three great workouts. My long run on Saturday burned over 1100 calories and that’s nothing to sneeze about. This week I choose to celebrate my work rather than beat myself up that it’s not what it was, or what others feel it should be. It was actually exactly what I needed.
I’d love to hear from you about your journey to reclaim your health. How’s it going?