I am a fat girl. And I run.

I want to begin by sharing a poem with you. This is not a poem I wrote. For your convenience, I pasted it below this paragraph but I found the original poem here.

Hey fat girl,

Yes, you. The one feigning to not see me when we cross paths on the running track. The one not even wearing sports gear, breathing heavy. You’re slow, you breathe hard and your efforts at moving forward make you cringe.

You cling shyly to the furthest corridor, sometimes making larger loops on the gravel ring by the track just so you’re not on it. You sweat so much that your hair is all wet. You rarely stay for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you look exhausted when you leave to go back home.  You never talk to anyone. I’ve got something I’d like to say to you.

You are awesome.

If you’d look me in the eye only for an instant, you would notice the reverence and respect I have for you. The adventure you have started is tremendous; it leads to a better health, to renewed confidence and to a brand new kind of freedom. The gifts you will receive from running will far exceed the gigantic effort it takes you to show up here, to face your fears and to bravely set yourself in motion, in front of others.

You have already begun your transformation. You no longer accept this physical state of numbness and passivity. You have taken a difficult decision, but one that holds so much promise. Every hard breath you take is actually a tad easier than the one before, and every step is ever so slightly lighter. Each push forward leaves the former person you were in your wake, creating room for an improved version, one that is stronger, healthier and forward-looking, one who knows that anything is possible.

You’re a hero to me. And, if you’d take off the blaring headphones and put your head up for more than a second or two, you would notice that the other runners you cross, the ones that probably make you feel so inadequate, stare in awe at your determination. They, of all people, know best where you are coming from. They heard the resolutions of so many others, who vowed to pick up running and improve their health, “starting next week”. Yet, it is YOU who runs alongside, who digs from deep inside to find the strength to come here, and to come back again.

You are a runner, and no one can take that away from you. You are relentlessly moving forward. You are stronger than even you think, and you are about to be amazed by what you can do. One day, very soon, maybe tomorrow, you’ll step outside and marvel at your capabilities. You will not believe your own body, you will realize that you can do this. And a new horizon will open up for you. You are a true inspiration.

I bow to you.

I found that poem several years ago & it resonated with me because it describes some of my feelings so perfectly. I often walk at a public walking trail. I walk often because walking is my favorite form of exercise. But sometimes I also run.

When I say run, I really mean that I am jogging at the fastest speed that I can maintain. That isn’t very fast compared to most people. If I stay focused, I can run a 15 minute mile. 

Most people may scoff at a 15 minute mile but if you knew where I started, you may feel differently. Several years ago, I couldn’t jog on the treadmill at 3 miles per hour for more than thirty seconds or a minute without my lungs aching & burning. I was over eighty pounds heavier than I am now.

When I jog, I do feel a bit self-conscious. I figure my slow speed is probably laughable to some people. I assume I probably don’t have very good “form.” And my large body probably doesn’t look very graceful or athletic.

I’m not as self-conscious as I was a few years ago tho. I used to stop and walk every single time another person came within enough distance to see me. Ever since reading that poem, I’ve trained myself to keep going when I pass another runner. I figure, of all people, surely they appreciate what I’m trying to do.

Regardless, I keep working on dealing with those feelings. And I keep working on increasing my speed & endurance. I’m better now than when I couldn’t run for more than a minute. I’ll be even better tomorrow.

I’m not fast. I probably look silly. You and your grandma can probably both outrun me. I am a fat girl. And I am run. Therefore, I am a runner. 

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