I Look Good and I Do What I Want

a journey of loving my body and myself

lower case “r” runner May 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mae @ 3:24 pm

I am internet addict. I spend lots of time online, shopping, reading, wasting time, socializing. In fact, I met my husband online, at a message board that we both frequent (not a matchmaking site). I have lots of friends that I have only known online. Occasionally, the online friendships turn into real-life friendships or acquaintances. A couple days ago, an online friend who I’d met just a couple months ago, said on a message board in front of other people, “I have no idea why you are fat. If you run as much as you say you do (I don’t understand how that is possible) and don’t eat eight million calories a day it doesn’t seem possible.”

Well. Ouch.

I mean, its not like I brag consistently about how much I do (or don’t) run. I have “highs” and “lows,” points where I was consistently running 20 miles per week and in excellent shape, points where I was skipping weeks and banging out lazy 1.5 – 2 mile runs once or twice a week, tops. I remember discussing a race, the first long race I ever did, online: the Army Ten-Miler. I never posted my times or pace, because, well, they are abysmally slow. I know I am a lower case “r” runner and really, I’m usually okay with that fact.

I know I shouldn’t let what someone else says about me color my own perceptions of myself. He’s a heavy guy himself, and has absolutely zero self-consciousness about it. He sees “fat” as fact, which is, in a way, comforting. But I think he does have all the “myths” about fat and how people become and stay fat firmly lodged in his brain. I guess he probably does think I lie about running, because he can’t imagine someone SO HUGE trudging along with a pile of skinnies in a race. I guess he probably does think if I do run, I must be sitting down to an enormous plate of fried chicken and cheese-covered fries, topped off with whipped cream and a cherry, because “real” runners are all incredibly slender, and could only possibly be so slender because they run, which magically burns off all calories ingested.

This has sat in my psyche and festered since Monday. I even dreamt last night that he came to my running group on Saturday morning and timed me. Here is what I said to him, at the time:

“I run three to four days a week right now, around 3.25 miles per run, so that’s like 10 – 12 miles a week. Something like 1,500 or 1,800 calories a week.

Its not that hard to ‘eat that up’ in excess food. 250 extra per day. That’s like, sour cream with my quesadillas or a couple cookies from the breakroom. Really easy to do.”

It wasn’t enough, I know. I felt like even saying that much was being really defensive. I wish I had come up with some snappy comeback. I wish I hadn’t let his comment bother me all week long. I have long been proud of my status as a lower case “r” runner. I suppose that sometimes, when I am running, I do let myself pretend that I am slender and lithe and swift like the faster runners I admire, in their teeny shorts and sports bras.

I wish I knew what kind of body-positive things to say to myself to make the sting of his commentary go away. Some indignant part of me says, “Well, what does he know about running, he doesn’t exercise at all!” But mostly I think, “Of course I sound ludicrous. Of course I’m not a real runner. What he said is probably what everyone who I run with or who passes me on the road as I run thinks. I should just give it up running now, its all hopeless anyway. I am so dumb.”

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2 Responses to “lower case “r” runner”

  1. Ugh. I guess to me, the important part is that everyone’s body is different, and another person can run just as much as you do and eat just as much or as little as you do and still end up a totally different size from you. But that idea tends to be so mind-blowing and upsetting to people (who seem to have some deep-seated need to believe that they can control their weight to the tenth of a pound just by doing some “calories in/calories out” calculation) that I don’t think I would have had the fortitude to get into it on a non-FA message board.

    I do totally agree with what you did tell him, though. Running is good for your cardiovascular health and bones and such, but it is not some kind of guarantee that you’re going to be skinny. There are too many other variables in terms of food intake and individual variation and such.

    If you want my honest opinion, there are more skinny runners out there (I wonder if the fact that you don’t see many larger runners contributed to your acquaintance’s ideas) because fat kids like me are not exactly encouraged to join the cross country team. And if you spend about 30 seconds on the Runner’s World forums, it becomes clear that it is not a particularly welcoming environment for fat people unless they are “doing penance” and dieting, in which case maybe they rate a condescending pat on the head.

  2. Mae Says:

    Oh, dude, I cannot tolerate the Runner’s World forums. That place is rife with screwed up people espousing the virtues of near-anorexic schedules for eating and running. It is not a good place for me.

    I really had no idea until I joined the first running group that people who weren’t skinny could run– and could run and maintain their non-skinny figures. Lots of people in that training group who were also beginners got rude awakenings. They assumed running so much would just melt the pounds off. Unfortunately, running, more than any other athletic endeavor I’d tried, seems to demand caloric replacement. There are days when I feel like I would die if didn’t sit down and eat a big bowl or plate of something carby. I think people go into it thinking their appetite won’t change and they can eat the same way but run 20+ miles per week.


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