Yes folks, those words were actually said out loud, directly to me. Not by a fellow runner who hadn’t been able to run a marathon yet but wanted to and was a teeny bit jealous. Or by a frenemy (a friend who is secretly not actually your friend and delights in giving you backhanded compliments). No, those words were said by my doctor.
Now, I know there are are all sorts of reasons why running in particular is better at a lighter body weight. Potentially faster times, less impact on the joints … the list is probably a long one but this wasn’t an informed comment. This wasn’t a comment made knowing my exercise history or how hard I had worked in the last couple of years on the weightlifting to gain some muscle. Her comment was off the cuff, judgemental and down right rude …not something you expect from a medical professional!
Of course her judgement was based on ‘the chart’. The dreaded BMI chart that’s outdated and unrealistic. The problem with ‘the chart’ is nothing else is taken into account. Your height and your weight. That’s it. You could be rock solid muscle from head to toe but if you’re 5’5 and 90kg? You’re automatically obese and you must do something about it immediately!
In that moment I felt angry, stunned, defensive and ashamed. I’d been made to feel ashamed by my own doctor despite my achievements of running a marathon. Despite being fit enough to run 26.2 (hilly!) miles all that mattered in that moment was my weight. I was left feeling like I had to defend myself. I walked away that day feeling defeated.
Now I’m aiming to run the six World Marathon majors I’m going to have to put in some serious hard graft and weight loss will more than likely come hand in hand with that but it won’t ever be because someone, no matter who, has made a comment like that. I’m grateful that we have people like Julie Creffield who started the Too Fat To Run movement and magazines like Women’s Running UK who chose to feature Lindsey Swift as a cover star (Lindsey was heckled while out running with comments about her weight and she hit back on Facebook. The post went viral!).
If you’re bigger that your average runner and you think you can’t start running these women will show you that you can. You just have to say, ‘I can and I will’.
I can and I will.