I was talking to a woman the other day in Noosa and she asked what I did for a living, when I mentioned running, she quickly cut me off and said ‘Oh I can’t run’. I replied with my usual mantra, ‘I believe everyone can run’, she then said ‘No, I really can’t. My physio told me I haven’t got a runners body’, I think she was shocked with my retort of ‘What a crock of….’, she then went on to tell me more, saying that this ‘top sports’ Physio also told her 12 year old son that he shouldn’t run either as he hasn’t got a runners body…What the?????
It’s bad enough us writing our own excuses in life without a so called health professional giving us a lifelong one...I told her I thought her physio should stand at the finish of the Melbourne or Gold Coast marathons and tell all the people who have trained for months and have just run that amazing 42km and feel like they are on top of the world, his theory about some of them not having a 'runner's body'!
Do you need a runner’s body to run?
There are certain bodies that are built to run, they have the right amount of fast twitch fibres (sprinters) or slow twitch fibres (distance runners) in their muscles. They have the right anatomical makeup for running, such as the right limb and bone size and density, and in most cases a bonus genetic imprint…and yes you do need a runner's body if your goal is to win a gold medal in the London Marathon at the Olympics in 2012...if that’s not your goal, then no, the body you were born with is fine to run with
I love watching the Sunshine Coast Triathlons. I am constantly amazed with the shapes and sizes of the athletes…in some cases the bums are so big they looked like they have swallowed the bike seats, some of the guys have their zips down on their lycra all in ones, not because they are hot, but because they cannot do it up over their big bellies! But the amazing thing is they are out there for 2-4 hours working at the top level of exertion, for a sustained period, so there is no way they are unfit. Anyone who can do more than an hour of strenuous exercise without stopping has to be fit...ok they may be training to lose weight , and they haven’t got here yet, but they are cyclists, swimmers and runners
I know there are some great looking healthy bodies out there running, but are they running bodies or just good bodies. In fact me, with my non runner looking body, have passed many so called 'runners bodies' in marathons, if fact I have seen many 'runners bodies' stopped or walking in races. And whats more, I have had many non runners bodies zip past me in marathons as well!
I get more joy out of seeing the non runners type body out there running. When I see someone who is on the heavy side, totally non running looking body, wearing non runner running gear, pushing themselves up Alex Hill in Mooloolaba, I always think ‘Wow, good on you what a great effort’
It takes a lot of effort to start running and put yourself out there to run. You are so exposed, you cant hide out there, you are on the street for the world to see…usually you are not looking your most glamorous, especially at the end and the last thing you want to see is anyone you know and God forbid if someone toots at you...it takes a lot of guts and I'd rather see those running bodies than the real runners bodies, because it’s those bodies that need to get out there, need to get fit, need to improve their health.
Like most people when I started out running I had a perception of what runners looked like, it came from watching the finely tuned bodies of the lithe black runners in the Olympics or seeing what I call the greyhounds and whippets who ran with our local athletics club, or the crop top brigade at the gym on the treadmills.
I would be running around the roads in my home town in long t-shirts and trackie daks, feeling like a running imposter or a runner wanna be. When I trained myself and did my first marathon (Melbourne), I felt pretty cool in my new white running t shirt and running shorts until I looked around at the start to see thousands of my fellow female competitors, wearing what I considered to be a bra and undies with a rib cage in the middle. I ran the marathon and was very pleased with myself and my performance.
A few weeks later I got sent some photos of me running the marathon (in those days they posted the pictures and you just sent back the ones you didn’t want and paid for the ones you kept...great honour system!). I was so excited to get the pictures but my face dropped a bit when all of the pictures showed me in my water buffalo running pose; sweaty, snorting and blowing smoke out of all facial orifices, wet clothes clinging to all the wrong curves with sweat, whilst all around me in the shots were the greyhounds and whippets, looking perfectly groomed and of course very petite.
My 18 year old son was at home that day, and I said to him ‘My God look at me Len , I look like big fat sweaty elephant, I don’t look like a marathon runner’, Now let me tell you my 18 year old (25 now) is a very quiet boy of few words, but when he does say something it is usually quite profound (yeah I know nothing like his mother), he said ‘But you are mum, you are marathon runner’. That comment is one of the top comments that has been uttered to me in my lifetime (and all the more special when it comes from your own son) It stopped me in my tracks, he was right, I am a marathon runner, it didn’t matter what shape, size, runners body , non runners body, or what I looked like during the race…it all means nothing. I had run a marathon and I am a marathon runner.
Now it gives me great joy when people say to me ‘Gee you don’t look like a marathon runner’ and my reply is always ‘Well I am.’
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