Body Image and Runners — Everyone is Welcome

Type: Just a Chill Run
Distance: 3.0 miles
TSS: 42.1
Pace: 8:15 min/mile
Total Work: 230 kJ

Hooray for cold weather running gear. It was great to get up, look up the outside temps and see that they were below freezing, and laugh at old man winter. I knew it was supposed to be a short run day, and I was looking forward to my run. Thanks to all the comments on my post about compressions socks I actually wore them to bed last night and slept in them. My muscles did feel much better today that they did yesterday. I did want to run this in 24:00 flat, but after the first mile at a 8:00 min/mile pace, I knew I wasn’t going to keep that pace up today through all three miles. But oh well. Some days you have it and others you don’t. I am going long tomorrow for 6.0 miles. That sounds pretty funny.

On the iPod this morning of note: “Behind the Wall of Sleep” by the Smithereens, “Jowena” by Fiji, and “The Choice is Yours” by The Black Sheep. Interesting combination, but it was a good one right in the middle of my run.

You guys need to check out an article I wrote for a friend’s blog at msscreensiren.com. The article is my guide to spectating at an endurance event  and I have to admit, pretty dang funny. I have a hard enough time keeping this blog up to date let along putting something together for someone else. But on to the main topic.

Body Image and Why You Rule

Body image is a very sensitive subject and I am anything but a sensitive guy. I have been thinking a lot about this topic for some reason lately and wanted to write down my thoughts about the subject. I won’t be PC in this entry, but I think honesty is a good thing in this case.

Body image is a very personal thing. Since studies show that women typically are much more critical of their bodies than men, let’s start with the ladies. There is a mountain of data that shows that in typical media, the image portrayed in “typical ad” makes women feel guilty and ashamed about their body type, regardless of their size. Check out this video on the subject…

I think in endurance sports we have a similar issue. I think for the most part the models who are used are not representative of the body type of the majority of participants.

I also think it is very interesting that with body image, the perception of the person is all that counts. It doesn’t matter what the rest of us see or what reality is, all that matters is what the person perceives about themselves. Obviously body image starts at a very early age and its importance is determined largely by your family and social circle. Building self-confidence in your children is one of the more important things you can do as a parent.

One of the things I love about endurance sports is it welcomes everyone regardless of body shape or size. Clearly in our sports there is a competitive advantage to lowering your body fat within a healthy range, but just because someone appears fit does not mean that they are. I work to pull my power to weight ratio up during the summer to make me faster on the flats and a more efficient climber. But I am in no means skinny or small. One of my favorite things to do is pass skinny guys on a tough climb. While not PC, it still kicks butt.

Go to a local 5K and you will see skinny people, fat people, and those who fall somewhere in between. Personally I think it is fantastic that everyone is out there. I think there is room for everyone in our sports. Everyone runs, cycles, or swims for their own reasons, all of which are valid. We all have to start somewhere and our growth is measured in different ways — you may measure your growth by weight lost or improvements in your pace. But just because someone else starts at a different level as I have and runs faster or weighs less does not make me any less of a competitor. I think it actually makes me more.

So, regardless if you are pear shaped, globe shaped, hour glass shaped, three pear shaped, or anything else, get out there an own your workouts. There is absolutely a place for everyone in our little world and regardless of your body type, you are welcome. Always remember that fitness is a journey and not a destination that you can reach, so your runs, bikes, and swims are all going to help you improve your overall health levels. And really, improving your health through elevated fitness levels and nutritional choices is what these sports are truly all about. Everyone — skinny, fat, or in between is beautiful. Everyone can feel confident in the way they look.

If anyone ever gives you or someone else grief about their body type, remember this little ad that was run by Nike a couple of years ago…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...