Last weekend, I completed my first 100 mile endurance run. This was an event I had trained hard for over the course of 6+ months. To this date, it was singularly the most challenging, fun, and satisfying endeavor I have ever completed. And the support from friends and family before, during and after the event was simply incredible.
There have been some comments, however, that have both surprised and disappointed me. I wasn’t going to say anything. I have bit my tongue for months now. Why should the comments of a few individuals bother me? As I grow as a person, I have gotten a lot better at allowing things to roll off my back and not let things phase me. However, the more I’ve thought about what’s been said, the more I feel the need to say something about it.
What’s the problem? Well, several people, upon hearing about my training or that I have completed the event, have looked me over and (I kid you not) have said things like “Wow. You’d think with all that training you would have lost weight.” Or “You’d think you’d be thinner after all that.” Things of that nature. I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they didn’t mean to be tactless or rude. I mean, as an endurance athlete, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard things like “Wow! With all those runs I bet you can eat whatever you want!” (For the record, I absolutely CAN NOT eat whatever I want. But boy would that be fun!) These comments are a little different. And when it comes down to it, why the need to say something like that at all? Could I lose a few? Sure, If I chose to completely tighten my diet up. But I don’t desire to do that. I am extremely healthy, happy and I rocked my first 100 miler. I don’t feel the need to suffer feelings of deprivation.
Comments like the above leave me scratching my head. I mean, I just RAN 100 MILES, and the only thing you can think to comment on is how my weight should be lower. Really?!? However they meant the comment – well intentioned or not – how did my weight even become a factor in this? As a person who has suffered from disordered body image and eating issues in the past, not to mention overcoming a serious injury, I have worked very hard at celebrating my body for what it can accomplish, not reducing my efforts to an arbitrary number on the scale. And as a fitness trainer, I am very sensitive to this as well, as many of my clients are struggling with weight and body image issues. So taking any accomplishment, be it completing an endurance event to executing a first push up, and saying something such as (no matter how it is intended) “Wow, imagine how much easier/better/more fun that would be if you weighed less!” is toxic.
Just as all that wander are not lost, not everyone who is training, competing or exercising is doing it as a means to lose weight. And even if they are, that is their journey. To diminish an accomplishment by bringing weight into the equation is just sad. I am way more than a number on a scale.
Taking on the training for such an arduous event like a 100 miler requires a lot out of my body, and my paramount goal is to nurture it so as to perform at my best, rather than worry about losing weight so I might make someone else’s ideal of what a ultra runner should look like.
I get it that most people are not meaning to be rude or insensitive, but our words have impact and meaning. Bottom line: I don’t make it about my weight, so neither should anyone else.