How To Stop Caring If Strangers Think You're A Runner Or Not

Do you remember the last time someone acted surprised when they found out that you run? Maybe it happened once or maybe it happens daily; my question is, why do we care? 

you don't look like a runner

For years I felt self conscious about myself, my strength, and my identity as a runner. "I'm not a real runner" or "But I'm not fast" I'd say to anyone who raised their eyebrows when they found out that I ran. Even after I ran my first marathon, I would catch myself saying, "I ran the marathon, but I'm not REALLY a marathoner." I couldn't help myself! I cared way too much about what other people thought about me instead of focusing on how I felt about myself.

I see it all the time. It's one of the comments I see most frequently on my social media accounts from other runners. They tell me that people act surprised when they find out that they run because they don't look like your "stereotypical runner". The problem is, we have all come to this decision that someone who is in shape, or who can run, should look a certain way. You see it everyday in magazines or tweets like this -- 

The sooner we can acknowledge that the perfect A-List body is marketing and not something we should all strive for, the better off we'll be. Working out or losing weight just to look like a movie star won't solve your problems. I know because that's what I thought would happen when I changed my entire life to lose over 75 pounds. I thought that being skinny would make me happy or that it would make life easier for me. CURVE BALL, it didn't. It wasn't until I started running and in turn believing in myself and my strength that I started feeling confident, happy, and capable.

 I'm tired of seeing people feel like they need to look a certain way in order to feel good about themselves. The goal should never be to have an A-List body. Strength and confidence don't look a certain way. Being healthy isn't one size fits all. 

kelly roberts

Letting go of how much I cared about other people's opinions didn't happen overnight, it took a lot of proactive work on my part. We give so much of ourselves on long runs, on the track, on a bike, in the pool, or in the gym, and yet we do nothing to strengthen the way we see ourselves. Why? Why do we feel like we need to prove our strength and worth to anyone other than ourselves? It wasn't until I started actively looking in the mirror and celebrating what I liked or what made me proud that I stopped caring about what people might think about me.

Being able to run a certain distance or pace isn't what defines a runner. A runner is anyone who strives to put their strongest foot forward. It doesn't matter if that's a 30 minute mile or a 5 minute mile. Honestly, the people who inspire and motivate me the most aren't the people with perfect bodies. It's the people who don't believe they can run around their block and then make it happen. The runners who have defined themselves and what they're capable of and still set out to make a change. Trying to change who you think you are is one of the most difficult things you can do. That's why I'm not motivated or inspired by a finished product. I want to see a work in progress. 

Getting healthy shouldn't be about trying look a certain way, it's about being the best version of you possible both inside and out. If you want to stop caring about what other people think about you, you have to start believing in your own strength and potential. Until you can look in the mirror and feel proud of what you see because you know how hard you're working, you'll always feel hurt when someone is surprised when they find out that you run. Don't worry about proving yourself to anyone but yourself. You're strong, you're beautiful, and you're capable of anything. Life is all about putting one foot in front of the other. It's your job to make sure that you're putting your strongest foot forward. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.