Covid struggles aside, I have spent four months travelling and racing without any major or even minor injuries. I have flown across the world multiple times and changed time zones, environment, food, and everything in between without missing a single period. I haven’t missed a planned run in a very very long time, and as much as my body is bone dead tired, absolutely nothing hurts. I am only nursing fatigued energy systems and an exhausted mind this off season, not a battered body ready to fall apart.
I started and ended it the healthiest I have ever been, body and mind.
Covid struggles aside, I have spent four months traveling and racing without any major or even minor injuries. I have flown across the world multiple times and changed time zones, environment, food, and everything in between without missing a single period. I haven’t missed a planned run in a very very long time, and as much as my body is bone dead tired, absolutely nothing hurts. I am only nursing fatigued energy systems and an exhausted mind this off season, not a battered body ready to fall apart.
I have been both driven and saddened the last few months by many messages along the lines of ‘it is nice to see someone looking so healthy and ‘built’ competing’. Driven because I love the idea that I can provide an additional image of a healthy professional runner that some women and younger girls can see as being similar to them, out there giving my all and not afraid to show the good the bad and the ugly. Saddened because even though I know it is well meant, that statement still speaks to how much the focus can be put on size in our sport, rather than health/capability/accomplishments. I could cherry pick my images or clothing to hide a lot more than I do, but I truly believe we need images of all body shapes and sizes performing in order to make everyone feel welcome to have a crack in whatever way they want to - without the self conscious belief that something about their shape ‘isn’t made for it’.
What I look like, how I perform, how others perceive me - that will all change from year to year. The one thing I am committed to is that at any point in time the me, you see is my body's current version of healthy.
At this stage, (and after a lot of help) deep down I don’t give two shits about my size or shape or how many bits of me wobble in photos. I have my moments of self doubt for sure, but I am able to quickly return to what I really care about: my health, my attitude, what I am able to give to races and to the people around me, and being in this for the long game.
I can also see plain and clear that in most environments, I am comparatively ‘small’. It’s just in running I can be seen to be larger than those around me, or a different shape to the ‘endurance runner’ image people have in their minds. I just wish more people could also see that that isn’t a problem, and definitely isn’t a reason not to wear what’s comfortable, still give your all, still commit to running hard and long, and still believe that you belong - because you do. You also don’t need to just magically start loving your body in order to treat it, and yourself, in a loving way.
So am I the leanest/fastest/‘fittest’ looking runner I’ve ever been or could be (by outdated and misguided standards)? No.
Am I the healthiest, strongest, and most consistent runner I’ve ever been? Heck yes.
I know which one of those two things is going to be of more value to me, and others, in future years.
I live for the day every single size and shape is celebrated for what the amazing human body and mind can do. For the day we finally detach from the message that smaller= better/faster for everyone when it comes to endurance sport. I can attest that this change is slowly happening, at least in the people I choose to surround myself by. And on the flip side please don’t think that everyone you see that fits the ‘skinny’ and ‘fit looking’ mould is unhealthy. Many are kick-ass healthy women doing their thing their way with the body that was given to them. Some struggle, as we all do at times, because damn it’s hard to find your way through previous generations messages and mistakes. Still, small is not always unhealthy, larger is not always unhealthy, and everything in between is a-okay too because size is NOT health, fitness, or capability.
Very Long story short:
DO. NOT. FOCUS. ON. SIZE.
Any of them.
Today I am celebrating a healthy body that kicks ass at some things, has strength to have fun building in others, and is of more value to me than any race ever will be. Here’s to decades of health ahead, whatever that looks like, with lots of running and races thrown in because one of my favourite parts of having a healthy body is seeing just how far it can take me doing what I freaking LOVE to do.
Images by Golden Trail World Series.