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Dorothy Beal Was Logging 92 Miles a Week to Give Herself a "Runner's Body"

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My parents placed a huge emphasis on education when I was growing up, so it's safe to say that sports and healthy eating just weren't a priority for me. As a result, by the time I got to college, I realized that I wasn't equipped with some of the tools I needed to build a daily routine that involved working out and eating well. So while most people gained the "freshman 15" throughout the first year of college, I gained it in just a few months.

 

10.1.2000 --> 2.19.2017 the photo on the left is from my first race ever. I joked, but it's true, that the only training I did was cutting down on the amount of alcohol I was drinking and cigs I was smoking. It was a 10K - it took me 1:06 minutes to finish and I HATED every second of it {I was running because my mom was trying to convince me running would change my life - ha} Fast forward 17 years - it did change my life and I do LOVE IT. I went from thinking I could never ever be athletic, I just wasn't the sporty type, to completing 32 marathons and finishing over 100 races of various distances. Social media is GREAT for motivation but this is a friendly reminder to tell you two things 1. Don't compare your day 1 to someone else's year 17 if you had told the girl on the left she would be the woman on the right one day, she would have given you the middle finger. 2. You can do anything you want in life - nothing is impossible - just because someone else has been running longer or is farther along in their journey doesn't mean you shouldn't or can't start yours! Xoxo #irunthisbody #myjourney #ihavearunnersbody #hylandspowered #ad #bostonmarathon

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This struggle to prioritize my health stuck around during my first two years in college, which ultimately caused some self-esteem issues. I just didn't feel like myself anymore, and on top of that, I was diagnosed with social anxiety. So in an effort to fit in and feel confident, I ended up drinking a lot, which further contributed to my weight gain as well as my poor relationship with my body. (Related: Why Shaun T Decided to Give Up Tequila)

It wasn't until my junior year that I realized something needed to change. I was home during a school vacation when I stepped on the scale and had a breakdown. I couldn't believe the number staring at me—and while it represented what was going on with me physically, it also served as a wake-up call for what was going on for me emotionally. It became clear that I wasn't in a good, healthy place.

After sitting down with my parents, we came up with a plan to gain back my health and as a result, help me feel more confident. My mom, who had always been interested in running, suggested that I give it a go, and to help me get started, agreed to foot the bill on some necessities like buying a nice pair of shoes and paying to sign up for a race. (Side note: Running Helped This Woman Overcome Anxiety and Depression.)

 

Gonna throw out some thoughts for you on #fitspoThe majority of #fitspo photos are someone's BEST angle or a photo they LOVE of themselves. What someone else posts shouldn't make you feel bad about yourself. It's their best and often times we compare it to what we feel is our worst. For a very long time I hated my LEGS and that makes me REALLY sad. My legs help me do something I am passionate about - RUN. I'd see a photo like the one on the left and think WHAT THE WHAT - why are my legs always a cottage cheese mess!? How many miles do I have to run before they don't look like that!? But photos like the one on the left are a split second in time - minutes later I looked like the girl on the right. Why oh why are we meaner to ourselves than to anyone else? Nothing is wrong with my legs in either photo....nothing....Health isn't just about the miles - it's also about what's going on in our heads and hearts beating yourself up doesn't make you healthier - quite the opposite - so let's make a pact to #juststop with the negative self talk from here on out. Xoxo #ihavearunnersbody #irunthisbody #run #anyBODYcanrun

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The first couple of times I ran, I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable in my body. I was very aware that I was larger than most people around me at the gym or on the trail. Also, keep in mind that this was 2001, when no one thought running was cool and it was stereotypically thought to be a sport for "skinny" people. All my friends thought it was weird that I ran, and it took a while to get used to the funny looks I got from people as I was out and about on my runs. 

Eventually, I just got sick of it and felt like if I was really going to be considered a runner, I had to look the part. I'd already lost a lot of weight since I started running. And by 2003, I started focusing on my speed to get even leaner while I prepped for my first marathon. (Related: How Dorothy Beal Reacted to Her Daughter Saying She Hated Her Big Thighs)

 

Let's get REAL with each other again...  I'm reposting this here because I think we all can agree that we are worth more than a photo captured at a race. Far too many of us let a single photo steal joy - the thing is - it's a single photo and we need to take back any power that photo steals  #Repost @womensrunningmagazine ・・・ @mileposts here  Let's get real with each other for a second shall we!? How many of you have let a race photo steal joy from you?? Both of these race photos were taken on the same day at the same race. In one I looked happy and strong and in the other I was left questioning if there was a part of my body that didn't have cellulite. This race at some points sucked for me - I got sick - threw up before crossing the finish line and had possibly my slowest 13.1 time ever - but post race the sucky feelings faded and I remember the day being fun - drinking wine with friends after, joking how wine cures all. If you had asked me after if I had a good time I would have said YES!! I still felt that way in the days following the race UNTIL I saw the photo on the left and then insecurity set in and I thought about how that day was not fun. But that's silly, because it was fun...A race photo is ONE SINGLE moment in time and I let one of them steal joy from me. Most times we don't look great while we run, but that's not why we run anyways, we run to FEEL like I look in the photo on the right - HAPPY. Don't let a photo steal joy - you are worth so much more than one split second - moment in time. #irunthisbody @ihavearunnersbody #whstrong

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Once I crossed the finish line of that race, I knew I was hooked. I wanted nothing more than to be a runner—and a good one. But I still felt like I wasn't being taken seriously, and more than anything, I was convinced it was because I didn't look like I was any good.

So over the next few years, I became faster and faster and my weight went lower and lower. I eventually dropped down to 110 pounds—which just isn't normal for my body type. I was running 92 miles per week and was always exhausted. I didn't feel good, but everyone around me was praising me for looking like I was in incredible shape. I would get to the starting line of a race and finally felt like I belonged because I looked like the people around me. But even then I knew I couldn't keep up with that persona for too long.

It wasn't like I had some aha moment that inspired me to reevaluate what I was doing and how I was treating my body, but one day something just clicked. I realized that regardless of what my body looks like, I should be considered a runner because I run and that I shouldn't have to be working this hard, killing myself just to fit into the community standards. (Related: #GainingWeightIsCool Is Proof That Being Healthy Is Different for Everyone)

 

12th female. 1st in my age group  Have a second to chat??  In the past 6 months I’ve run 4 5K’s. It’s mentally hard at times not to compare who I am today with who I was in the past. Often during races it’s easy to let negative thoughts slip in when I’m in pain. Today I ran strong and confident even though there was a little voice of insecurity that tried to ruin my race before it started - do you remember what you looked like last time you ran this race? Do you remember the time you ran? Do you remember how many people told you that you looked amazing and fit - bet that won’t happen today. You have gained 25 pounds! Bet that’s gonna feel awesome trying to run fast - have fun....It takes practice to silence the little a$$holes that live in my head. It’s hard work, but it’s been the most rewarding work I’ve ever undertaken. I now know that I am MORE than what they led me to believe in the past. I am more than a number on the scale. I am more than a time on the clock. I’m proud of the progression I’ve made in the past 6 months. It might only seem like seconds to you but to me I see a woman who isn’t afraid to stay the course. I see a woman who isn’t going to fall in to the trap of thinking that in order to get faster I have to be smaller. If you feel insecure about your body - know that you are not alone. It takes near daily practice but you can learn to love yourself as you are  I like numbers, I love improving, I am competitive by nature - it’s not easy to figure out how to balance that with self LOVE & self-compassion but I’m telling you it’s possible. If you run - you have a runner’s body. A reminder to myself as much as anyone else xoxo RnR VB: 22:54 - 16 ft gain RnR Vegas: 22:23 - 52 ft gain Running For Hope: 22:19 - 82 ft gain Run Your Heart Out: 22:09 - 148 ft gain #irunthisbody #ihavearunnersbody #anyBODYcanrun #lovemyshape #girlsjustwannarun

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I started eating normally, logging less mileage, and running a little slower, and I gained enough weight back to be and feel healthier. Within no time I was feeling so much more energetic. My mood was better and I could tell I was in a better place. But while I felt amazing, people stopped approaching me, complimenting me, or congratulating me at the finish line of marathons. It wasn't like they were saying anything bad, but their silence spoke volumes—and to be honest, that can really mess with your head. It made me question my fitness even though, deep down, I knew I was perfectly healthy. (Related: Marathoner Dorothy Beal Shares Why She No Longer Ties Numbers to Her Self-Worth)

It was those feelings that inspired me to create @ihavearunnersbody and @irunthisbody in 2016. I wanted more runners and aspiring runners to know that you don't have to have a particular body type to be considered a runner. If you lose 10 pounds, you have a runner's body. If you gain 20 pounds, you still. have. a runner's body.

So, I began reposting pictures of runners on Instagram, regardless of their shape, size, height, and age—and the campaign just took off. Men and women from around the world started sharing their running pictures with me, as well as how they got into running and what it means to them. Together, we've created a body-confident running community that's on a mission to prove that every body is a runner's body.

My goal with these movements is to create awareness about the fact that the moment you decide to run, you're a runner. So many people don't even give running a shot because they don't feel like they have the body to do it, but women like Candice Huffine and Mirna Valerio are proof that you don't have to look any type of way to get out there. (Related: Amazing Women Who Prove Every Body Is a Runner's Body)

Your love handles might jiggle, your cellulite-y thighs might rub together, but I guarantee you, there are women who are skinnier and faster than you whose lungs burn the same way as yours at the top of a particularly tough hill. At the end of the day, I hope that we can come to a general consensus that running is hard for everyone, no matter what you look like, but that shouldn't be the reason to not give it a try.

Because our bodies are badass and feeling strong, healthy, and confident is for everyone! Help us spread the body love and be a part of our #LoveMyShape body confidence movement: Post a photo or video on social sharing why you love your shape. And check out Movemeant Foundation, our partner in empowering women and girls to be body positive.

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