Self Image and Runners
I have been getting quite a few emails lately about body image and I figured it was time for another post on this. I wanted to talk to you frankly about it because it is scaring me how many athletes are suffering from negative body image and self doubt.
Size will always be a hot topic in the running world because the average competitive runner has a body fat percentage of about 12 – 16%.
New runners, tackling the same sport can easily have double that amount and it can feel demoralizing and foster comparison. Tempted to do it?
I know it is hard when the running world media is celebrating model in a bikini running in one headline and a plus size runner in the next but one of my favourite things about running is that it is so definitive.
It really is black and white and you know where you stand.
You either win or you don’t.
You either reach your PR or you don’t.
If there is one thing I have learned from my years of running is that there will always be those who are better than me and those who are worse than me.
I am not an expert, but accepting this small fact completely set me free in a community that is often riddled with comparison and competition.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on the fact that your legs carry you those miles, that your heart pushed you faster, that your mind helped you overcome that mental obstacle. Because you want to know the craziest thing? You will start to look after your body as a result.
You will start eating enough fat to feed your brain to help you make wise racing decisions. You will take some personal down time to relax, comparison and stress free to help lower your heart rate so you can push harder and faster in your next speed session. You will start doing the cross training and stretching to heal your legs instead of adding extra mileage that you don’t need.
By letting go of that pursuit of what you think is best for you and embracing what you know is best for you, you will most likely feel better than you ever have before. You will stop comparing yourself to the runner beside you and just be their friend instead.
On the flip side, I am not telling you to go out and do what you want. There are sensible ways to be an athlete. If you eat a continuous stream of bad food, cut out sleep and never take time for yourself to have some down time, you will feel bad about yourself and perform poorly. End of story.
There is no time where less than 5 hours of sleep on a regular basis is going to make you have the competitive advantage you are looking for. And there is no reason that your low mileage week merits a dinner that could feed four people.
The bottom line is to know yourself. Stop focusing on the people, the performances and the trends around you and take the time to dial in and listen to what you need. Everyone’s needs are different and running is just one of the many stages that this plays out on.
So this summer, run hard but run happy.
Speaking of winning, the lucky winners from my Goodness Me! giveaway are
Congratulations! Send me an email at lacesandlattes[a]gmail.com and I will connect you with your prize!