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The runner’s physique November 25, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in running.
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I have been running just over three years.  It’s been a struggle because I’ve had problems here and there, but I’ve kept it up.  In the past year, I ran a marathon relay, two half marathons, and the run leg of a sprint triathlon.  I occasionally do 5ks, as well.  I think this means I am officially a runner.

The problem I’ve run into a couple times, however, is that people simply can’t believe I run because I don’t have the “runner’s physique.”  Yes, not all runners are skinny and fast and muscular…not even ones who’ve been doing it for years, who watch what they eat, who train religiously.

A runner can and does have myriad body shapes and fitness abilities.  If you’ve ever participated is a really big race, you can see the whole spectrum of runners from the ultra-skinny to the ultra-heavy.  In fact, a good way to tell if someone runs in actual races is whether or not they are cognizant of this fact.  Running is not a slam dunk, and once you begin doing it, there is no guarantee that you’ll lose weight.  In fact, in talking to several runners I know, many of them find that they gain weight when training for longer distance races.  I’ve seen people who are larger than I am but have done dozens of marathons.

That isn’t to say it can’t be done, but I guess the frustration that someone who is active and health conscious will be skinny is very simplistic.  It certainly doesn’t take into account a lot of other things, the major one being life.  That’s right: life is stressful and you don’t get enough sleep and you have kids to chase around and you can’t always eat as well as you’d like or you do and you’re ill or what have you.  Life gets in the way, and I think it’s awesome to see anyone of any size, shape, and physical level get out there and move…slow or fast.

The experience I had most recently in this regard was one I’ve run into a lot: doctors who jump to the conclusion that you’re not very active because of your size.  It’s noticeable in the types of treatments they recommend for problems, and in my experience, can seriously inhibit the process of getting a good diagnosis for just about any type of problem.

I encountered a new internist recently who was involved in a conversation with myself and another person.  This other person and I started discussing a race we’d both been to before he had to excuse himself.  The internist and I chatted a bit, and she exclaimed she was really surprised I’d done a half marathon.  Unfortunately, I was not surprised by her surprise because this is a reaction I get all the time.  All I can hope, however, is that she will take this back to her practice and not make the assumption that people who aren’t skinny are also not physically active.

In fact, it’s an assumption I wish we could get rid of.  All of those concern trolls who claim to worry about people because of their weight need to be more concerned about their own ignorance regarding the spectrum of body types.  We all need to remember that you can’t tell much about a person just by looking at them.

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