March 22, 2018
Let’s finish off the week with one of our more remote members, she may be a bazzillion miles away but we love her dearly and she is a valued (and very engaged) member of our global community. Jenny Griffin lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and here is a wonderful article about why plussize runners are brilliant and necessary, and I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve been running pretty consistently for about four years now and overall, taking up running and everything that’s gone along with that – increasing my distances, discovering the Too Fat To Run community, going to parkrun and entering races- it has all been amazing and unexpected.
The running itself can be hard work and more often than not the best part is the high at the end, but.. as we know, there are so very many benefits. Running is my time to switch off and connect with the outdoors, it makes me feel strong and fit, it is one of the best things I can do to improve my mood and much more.
And yet, as I’m sure many of us have experienced, it can be very challenging indeed more so to a plus size runner. The lack of high quality, affordable kit in my size. The constant assumption that I’m a total beginner, patronising remarks about my ‘health’ (“Aren’t you afraid of injuring your KNEES…”) people feeling entitled to comment on my appearance and even the odd heckler. The fact that I feel invisible, unrepresented and maybe even unwanted in the mainstream running community a lot of the time. Of course that’s not even scratching the surface of those days when I’m struggling with my own confidence levels.
One thing that helps motivate me to get out there is to flip my situation around:
I am a fat, (I have reclaimed the word fat to use as a descriptor) 42 year old, single working mama who runs, albeit slowly…
Ok then, well as far as I’m concerned that makes me – and those like me, a trailblazer, people! Let no one forget it! And it’s about more than just me.
Reason 1 – Being an unlikely role model
It doesn’t matter that I might come towards the end in races or at parkrun. I am there and my presence alone challenges that old chestnut that runners must be young and thin. It chips away at the idea that only slim people get to enjoy physical activity or that only one body type can be healthy. This, in turn, encourages other women to give it a go. My smiley, and, well, unbelievably red and sweaty runner’s high face at the end of a run? It reminds me – and others- that it’s ok to let go of the pressure that we women are put under to always ‘look nice’. Don’t get me wrong, I love to dress up, but it’s also very gratifying to work hard and to sweat (not sparkle!-Shout outs to Stacey’s blog post)
Reason 2 – Doing it for the kids!
My young children are seeing that it’s normal for adults to enjoy being active and athletic. Not to lose weight or ‘because I hate my thighs’, but because it makes me feel strong and happy and healthy.
Reason 3 – Piss off the body fascists.
Ok, so this might be a bit petty, but oh so satisfying. Every now and then I come across someone who really, really hates fat people and is not afraid to show it, whether it be through dirty looks and disparaging comments, concern trolling about my health (unless you’re my doctor that’d be none of your business sister!) or general nastiness. These are the people who will tell you how ‘brave’ you are to go out in those leggings…
To be fair, these people also suffer from living in a culture obsessed with losing weight at all costs and body policing (fun fact: in such a culture NO ONE is ever ‘thin enough’ or ‘perfect enough’ them included). No excuse to be mean though.
Still, as the cliché goes: ‘living well is the best revenge’. Simply by showing up and challenging the status quo, by thoroughly enjoying and reclaiming running for myself and those like me that whole ‘larger people can’t/shouldn’t’ thing is revealed as the Emperor’s New Clothes type fallacy that it is and the haters are exposed.
Reason 4 – For ourselves
Like many women living in a larger body I never imagined I’d be able to run or have the courage to run in public. Even now, a few years in, talking about the fact that I do run is like telling people I hang out with actual unicorns in Narnia. It really does feel that unlikely and it still blows my mind that I have a half marathon under my belt. There’s a special sense of achievement that comes with doing something you never thought possible and I really think that instead of worrying how other people might react to us as plus size runners, we should celebrate ourselves and each and every running milestone!
Thanks, Jenny…there are some corkers in there “the fact that I do run is like telling people I hang out with actual unicorns in Narnia” being my absolute fav. I am so glad that you are part of my world.
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