Thank goodness for a husband who quickly challenges the untruths I speak. Dave responded by pointing me to a forum post from a woman who was venting about an unpleasant experience at a sporting goods store. She approached a salesperson, asked for information about a particular sports bra, and was dismissed with the remark, "You don't look like a runner." Maybe this woman's legs weren't the right shape, or maybe she even carried a little extra weight around her waist. In any case, an interaction like this is can be devastating to a sensitive runner.
What does a runner look like?
The other day, I spied my kids checking out my latest issue of Runners' World magazine. Wow, I thought, I'm encouraging the next generation of runners by leaving my reading material on the floor! When I asked what they were doing, they told me that they were looking at belly buttons. I believe it. There are, indeed, many pictures of belly buttons in Runner's World. Belly buttons on super-thin, very muscular, tan, young, beautiful people. Runners of course.
Is this what a runner looks like?
I'll show you what a runner looks like.
Below are my sister's reflections on this subject. Please check out more of her writing at http://revisionsblog.blogspot.com/
And I'd love to hear your response to this topic too...
If you had to guess a sport I play, you’d probably pick basketball. And you’d be right. Sort of.
At 5’11” and with a wide build, I was trained in high school to use my body to block out and get the rebound. I wasn’t the fast, agile center.
But that’s all guess work, based on common assumptions about athletes and their build. You wouldn’t guess that running is my thing.
A few months ago, I was discussing some knee inflammation with a doctor. This has been a chronic, mysterious symptom, one I suspect is related to an auto-immune disease I was diagnosed with a few years ago. My doctor — a large, athletic middle-eastern man with broad shoulders and a strong handshake — didn’t inspect my knee. Instead he encouraged biking or swimming for a cardio workout. “People built like you and me, we aren’t meant to be runners.”
We both knew what he meant — he didn’t need to explain further. He was referring to tall, broad folks with some meat on their bones. Runners, the assumption goes, are small, thin, all muscle and bone. Narrow hips and natural athleticism don’t hurt.
The thing is, I love running. I don’t pretend to think I’ll ever be competitive. I probably won’t ever run in the Boston marathon (you need to qualify for it). My fastest mile split to date is somewhere around 8.5 minutes, which really isn’t fast by most standards.
But there’s just something about it. It’s the joy of being outside. It’s getting up the hill. It’s racing the sun as it rises in the morning, or chasing it when it goes down. It’s exploring your city from a whole new perspective and discovering streets and alleys and vistas you might never have seen if you hadn’t been running through it.
So that’s why, when my doctor suggested running wasn’t for me, hot tears threatened my eyes and I had to look down to blink them away. After the hurt had passed (the hurt from his insensitive comment and all that had been implied by messages I’d received before this one), I smiled a little to myself. I remembered how so often people’s comments mirror their own disappointment and have little to say about me. And I renewed my commitment to give my desire to run — and enjoy it —precedence over whatever my build might say about me. Or what sport I should play.