Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Built Like A Runner

Content note: rambling about body type and weight

Something I think about occasionally but try not to stress over is that I'm just not built like a runner. At least not like the ones you see in the commercials, magazine ads, in-store ads, web ads, the Olympics, or even any of the promotional materials for local races and fun runs. And it's something that's been tripping me up mentally.

It's virtually impossible to change one's body type, and the effort required to do so is not sustainableneither is the stress by a long shot. I will never be competitive in this sport. It's disappointing because it's just not an option, but mostly I'm happy with the running I do.

I had been worried about the Spartan race because all the participants in ALL the event photos are RIPPED. All of them. And overwhelmingly male. Logically, I know appearance ≠ ability, but the idea is still ingrained in the subconscious, and I was really very anxious.

(Like this chick)

Leading up to the race, I searched and searched for photos of Spartans like me and found this lovely blog (note: contains weight loss narrative).
Then I remind myself that I’m an athlete because of what I do, not what I look like. I remember that people of all shapes, sizes, ages and ability levels will be running alongside me. I remember that the running community, and particularly the OCR set, is one of the most supportive I’ve ever encountered, always ready with a kind word or helping hand when fellow runners need one. 

Out on the course itself, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many women and so many folk at my same pace, whatever they looked like. To be fair, we were all slim and I only saw one chubby guy and one chubby gal all day. The final numbers actually show a total 307 women finishers out of 1300+ participants; I wouldn't have guessed the numbers so disparate.

It's taken as a given that in order to become a better runner, you have to lose weight. Though the charts say I ought to drop about 20 pounds for my height, I call shenanigans. Carrying less body weight might make long-distance running easier in some ways, but I think I'd be much more likely to succumb to hypothermia and/or exhaustion. It might make rope climbing easier but would definitely make the weight-lifting obstacles worse (which I can't even imagine them being any worse than they were; I cried, literally).

I like my body as it is and don't want to lose weight. I don't believe I could ever become a competitive runner, so I'm just trying to enjoy my training. I want to get stronger, and I that I can do.

I run. I'm a runner. Appearance has nothing to do with it.

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