Redefining the Definition of a “Runner’s Body”

Let’s move past what people currently think a “runner’s body” should look like, shall we? Let’s define a “runner’s body” by a body’s ability to run rather than a body’s appearance. Have you ever watched a local 5k road race or even a marathon? All kinds of body shapes come cruising across that finish line – it’s inspiring!

As Sally Bergesen, founder of Oiselle (a popular women’s running gear company) said in a recent tweet, “Can’t tell you how many times women tell me, ‘I don’t have a runner’s body.’ STOP. If you have a body, you can have a runner’s body.” In other words, if you have a body (outside of certain physical/medical exceptions, of course, though I know a crutching athlete and an athlete who “runs” with his arms), you have the tools needed to run/move athletically, no matter your weight or size. By defining a “runner’s body” as lean, small, thin, toned, etc., we send a message to people without a naturally slight build or lean, toned body that they are “not meant to be runners.” How terrible it is that we inadvertently then close doors on people who could otherwise be encouraged to join in this fantastic, healthy, simple activity countless humans love to participate in on a regular basis. Running endorphins boost mood, improve energy, and improve sleep. When done on a regular basis, running can prevent certain diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. With the high rates of obesity in the US, let’s use language to encourage everyone to lace up and head outside for a run, no matter how fast or slow, or large or small they are.

These pictures represent different time periods in my life. In each one of these periods, I ran 7 days a week, outside of an occassional day off for recovery. My size/shape/weight has changed quite a bit in my adult life, but through it all, I’ve never thought of myself as not having a “runner’s body.” Why? Because a body that runs is a runner’s body, and when this body, in all of its phases, runs quickly on tracks or leisurely on trails, it feels happy and free. So please, if you feel a desire to run, take that amazing body of yours out for a spin, and don’t let preconceptions about shape or size ever stop you.

As Bruce Springsteen sings, “Baby, we were born to run.”

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