What does a runner look like..?

Over the last 3 years I’ve discovered a lot about myself, what a runner looks like and what a runner actually is.
In a nut shell, a runner is someone who runs. Fast or slow, smooth, elegant or like a baby giraffe. Large or small, it doesn’t matter. So long as they are moving forward in a running type gait, then they are a runner. You are a runner whether you do 5k in 15 mins, 30 or over 60. If you do it regularly, then you are a runner.

This is prompted by a conversation I had a work last week. A lady came in who does a lot of sports and is pretty fit, she coaches a netball team, all her kids are into sports and every year she tackles the infamous Point to Pinnacle half marathon in November.
My friend and work colleague had thought she was a runner we often see up and down the street early in the morning and I scoffed and said ‘no way’. I was right but what she said to us when I asked ‘are you a runner?’ blew me away.
She says she can do 10k but is not a runner.
You say what..?
I insisted that if she could do that then is most definitely a runner.
Her explanation for why not was because she is too heavy in the midsection – hello me, and so many other women – and that she goes so slowly.
I replied that no matter what she is still moving forward so a runner she is.
Then came the cruncher. The part that really got up my goat.
The part that screams why so many young (and not so young) women don’t start up the sport for health or fitness, or from lack of self-esteem.
“my dad was a marathon runner and said if I ever wanted to run them then I had to lose like 20kgs..” 
I couldn’t believe my ears. This is a woman is tall but not by any stretch of the imagination to be over weight or unfit enough to run a marathon.  
This one sentence perpetuates the myth that a runner has to look a certain way and run at a certain speed.
She may as well have said “..
that to be a runner, is to perform at the elite level. Anything less and you’re not serious enough…”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
There is only a tiny percentage of people in the world who are at that level, and an equally tiny percentage (I do believe it’s the 1-percenters) that have run a marathon.
How do we get across to people – including the donkey who scoffed at my hope of getting under 5hrs for a marathon one day – that a runner comes in all shapes, sizes and speeds.
Given that most of the general public couldn’t run 2 kms let alone 5, the woman above is most definitely a runner. Big hips or not.
I have had customers ask ‘was it you I saw jogging last night?’ or similar, and while the term jogging irks me, at least they are complimentary on the fact I am out there being active. Especially as one person put it ‘…after you run around in here so busy all day and then go and do that..’ My after work running is just like their trip to the pub. A routine that makes us feel good. Others have said, ‘good work out there’ and ‘you do a lot of running, I see you every time I go out’.  It’s interesting how differently people see the act of running compared to a team sport. Team sports are fun. Running is boring.  I see it simply as everyone is out there running around (after balls, with sticks or bats) and having fun, keeping fit.
We need to teach our kids that running (and all other sports really) is good for the soul, and body. Talk to any group of women and they will tell you that running is their therapy, it clears their heads, helps them be better wives and parents. I know that no matter how achy I feel the next day, running makes my day job easier and my head is clearer.
The important thing here is that while size is not and should not be a deterrent to exercising, the less weight you carry around makes things a whole lot easier. I know I feel the difference between now and when I started 4 years ago, nearly 10k heavier. I have more control over my body and can manoeuvre it in ways I never used to be able to.
So, no matter your size or fitness, get out there and give it a go.
If you say you’ll get fit before you go to the gym or start running then you have missed the point. How do you think those fit people at the gym started??
Getting out there are starting is the hardest part but also the easiest. Keeping on going when you want to stop is what sets us apart from everyone else.
Be fit, be strong, be You.
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