Running for Health, Not Size

We all know how much more women are scrutinized over their bodies and appearance in the media. We have all been subject to some type of comparison at some point in our lives. Whether it’s from our own minds or from someone else’s. We obsess over what we eat and have often equated that to how many miles we’ve run. I myself am guilty of that. Until I finally told myself, ENOUGH!

It’s certainly not an easy place to get to, but in this powerful group of women that exists and is continuing to build, let’s all tell ourselves that we are good enough. Running for your health will get you farther in life and produce a calmer and happier YOU, than chasing after some elusive “perfect size” or those “chiseled abs.” When I finally stopped obsessing over how my body looked and accepted the fact that I was actually strong, healthy, and could run impressive distances, I felt an overwhelming calmness wash over me. I enjoy being able to eat delicious food, drink good wine and not kick myself for having an extra cookie. Life is meant to be enjoyed and you are stronger than you think! Running is hard, we’ve all had those days where the run is way more difficult than it should be. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night, maybe you didn’t drink enough water, or you’re stressed out because you’re waiting to hear back from your dream job, or you’ve had several days of hard training… the list can go on. The fact is, running itself is a roller coaster, so why not bring the joy back into it and remember why you started running in the first place.

Great day for a run!

Forget the numbers on the scale, or the struggles with self-image and know you are getting out there and CRUSHING IT! Smile when it gets tough, sing out loud (who cares if you’re not the world’s greatest singer, I certainly am not) throw in some killer dance moves, maybe throw in some healthy competition with unsuspecting runners for fun! Whatever it is that you do, the key objective here is to HAVE FUN! Some of my favorite runs that I’ve had were where I ended up surprising the hell out of myself – because I ended up running faster than I anticipated because of a good playlist or I ran longer than I thought I would because of a really good podcast.

When I think of the word health, and what that means to me, I think of good nutrition and whole foods, lowering my consumption of processed foods and most importantly, not skimping on meals! I also think of exercising daily in some fashion – whether it’s taking a yoga class, running for an hour (or a few hours on the weekends) or taking a fun class that brings a smile to my face.  And lastly, I think of taking time to stretch, drinking lots of water to keep my body hydrated, and most importantly laughing with good friends. Finding a healthy balance between pleasure and work is a difficult road to navigate, but when you are able to, making time for you should be a priority. Your health and body will flourish and reward you in kind.

Another great run with some trail sisters!

Something else that I found changed dramatically when I switched my mindset of running for my health rather than a size, was that I genuinely wanted to get out there to run again (mind you, I still have my days of wanting to hit snooze and sleep rather than get up and run).  The daily pressure to get out there and go hard was gone. Suddenly, I rediscovered the joy of venturing  out on a new route, knowing that I was doing my body a  favor to sweat, fill my lungs with air, stretch out my muscles, run hard if I wanted to, run slow if I wanted to, run long if I had the extra time, run short if I had a meeting soon. The self and society imposed pressure was gone.

My point is, I was no longer tied to a schedule born out of HAVING to run because I ate a little too much the night before. I was running for pleasure and for bettering my health for now and the future. Another big change was the transformation of my mindset. I felt this overwhelming confidence in my own body and its abilities. I now felt like such a bad ass, and even began running in just my sports bra! Do I have a six pack? Not even close, but do I care? Not one bit! Because I know what my body is capable of, and that feeling of freedom is truly incredible. We should all reward ourselves with our own badassary.

Post run smiles!

I leave you with this, women are strong as hell, we are seriously BADASS and we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, wives, CEO’s, Executives, Entrepreneurs, athletes, artists… and so much more. We multitask like champions! But on top of all of that, we forget to love ourselves and cherish the most incredible thing of all… our bodies. I encourage you to spend a little time complimenting your body and all that it does for you, remember that without our own health, we cannot take care of others. When we fall ill, or get injured and are unable to do the things that we love, our brains go a little crazy (especially when we can’t get in a few miles to decompress). So let’s remember to take care of ourselves, respect our bodies and get back to running for fun and most importantly our HEALTH!

Erin Brown

Erin Brown

Erin Brown is in her early 30’s (going on 13) and lives in Richmond VA. She got into running about 7 or 8 years ago, and has kept increasing the distance and challenges ever since. Exploring new trails and cities by running is her favorite past time.

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5 thoughts on “Running for Health, Not Size”

  1. Yes woman! You are a badass! I have personally been at least three different versions of 130lbs… It’s mentally exhausting to be trapped in that scale, or even in the mirror. The trails tell me I look great!

  2. Love these words! They speak to the core of all physical excellence! Which is, as you imply, absolutely relative to each one of us. May we each train from our own Heart!

  3. This is a wonderfully written piece that gets to a major point that I myself have been dealing with. At almost 53 and, in the past, being highly competitive….I’m tired. Tired of missing out on good food because I’m fuel specific, tired of not having time for other interests that require time to learn them and tired of being judged by my much younger peers who have no clue how hard it is to train for fitness endurance event while working full time, being a Mom and running a household. It’s time for a new chapter titled – ‘Let it Go! Not my health, just the baggage’

  4. Great post (and I’ve run those places! live in NoVa)

    I see a bit of myself in Lisa and Jody’s posts (hello 53, hello different versions, hello mentally exhausted, hello TIRED OF IT)….as well as dealing with energy levels and other priorities competing for my time, and dealing with a body changing due health issues not always in my control, and age which definitely isn’t in my control (whoa menopause wth?! suddenly parts of me look different than they have my whole life).

    Trying to adapt and find joy in who I am and what I can do NOW (knowing it will change again), seeking new challenges. Reminding myself as often as I can that my worth is not determined by a number whether it’s grams of whatever food or body weight/fat or pace or mpw or race distance.

    Now, need to find that BADASS bra and then find a group of women to wear it with me and run because that looks like a BLAST!

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