‘You look like a distance runner’
This is a statement that is thrown around all too often. As soon as you say, I’m a distance runner, someone is very quick to say ‘oh, you look like one’ or ‘I can tell by how you look’. But, what does this really mean and how should we take comments like this, because ultimately, we can’t control whether someone says it to us or not, but we can control how we interpret it.
Comments like this symbolise the inherent lack of understanding in the world surrounding body image in sport. The majority of the time, the people they are coming from have no idea about what it means to be a runner and how this looks. That is more often than not because they do not run themselves, but sometimes it comes from experienced runners. However, even in this case, they cannot think of anything else to say constructive to say to you. Therefore, their comments have no standing. It is easier said than done, but we should try to look past these comments, reword them and remember these things:
A distance runner can look a million ways
Firstly, there is no specific way a distance runner should or does look. We all look different to the next person, and this is simply because we have different makeups. If you run, and happen to be a distance runner too, however your body is, is how a distance runner looks. No two people will look the same even if they do both enjoy distance running. There is no set body shape or figure that you should fit into in order to be the best runner you can be. The best body shape for you, that will allow you to follow your ambitions, is one that is healthy and allows you to be a happy individual. Nobody knows what this is like from the outside in, only you know, so don’t let their comments affect you.
How you look doesn’t define you or categorise you
How you look does not define who you are. Just because someone tells you that you look a certain way, does not mean that this puts you into a specific box. Your physique does not set you up to follow a specific path. There is so much more to an individual than their body. It is very shallow of people to make assumptions about you because of your image, and not take the time to get to know everything else about you. However, your body is your body, and this is the last thing that should govern how you live your life. It cannot tell you that you can or can’t do something. Regardless of your body shape, try it, and you’ll soon find out if the sport is for you or not.
How you look does not determine your success
Thirdly, you should not have your hard work and passion reduced to how you look. As athletes, we spend a lot of time training and work our hardest to become better athletes in all aspects. Whether we have achieved this or not does not come down to whether we look like a ‘distance runner’ in the eyes of someone else. Our body shape does not reflect our success. The only things that can reflect our hard work is the training and race that we do. Our body’s will change throughout the year, week on week, depending on so many different factors. These changes do not mean our performance level has changed, so why do we put so much stress on looking a specific way all the time.
We all have different body shapes. If you enjoy distance running and that is what you do, then you have the body of a distance runner. Whatever you look like that’s how a runner should look.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!