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BLOG: This is what a runner looks like

1:51 PM, Jun 10, 2013   |    comments
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11Alive's Julie Wolfe will run the Peachtree again this year with the RunnerCam. This is her blog. 

I'm tired of people telling me I don't look like a runner. 

I answer with: 

a) You should see me in spandex. 

b) Since I'm always in front of you, you only get the back view, from up front, I totally look like a runner 

c) Neither do you 

These days, I lean more and more towards choice "c" (except, of course, I'm too nice to say that).

PHOTOS | This is what a runner looks like -- add your own!

A couple of years ago, I had joined a pace group in an upstate New York marathon. The leader was an ultra runner, and since I had just signed up for my first ultra, I was excited to hear any tips and advice she might pass along. Several miles in, after introductions, and leaving a few runners behind; I asked. She looked at me then said: "Big girls have an easier time. You have all those fat resources." 

BIG GIRLS? FAT RESOURCES? 

(pause) 

I inserted that pause so you could gasp in indignation. The interaction was the OPPOSITE of encouraging, but later that year, I ran my first ultra marathon. And then another. I'm in training for my third right now. And it wasn't easy. Despite my big ass. 

I inherited what fashion magazines call a "pear" shape. My sisters and I refer to do as "junk in the truck," or if I had more rhythm, "ba-donka-donk." I've also inherited likelihood for diabetes. Several of my extended family members are overweight, and many of them suffer from diabetes. When I hit 30, my metabolism slowed down. I'm just one of those people that will gain weight LOOKING at a piece of cake. 

Would I like to be "runner skinny?" Sure. But I'm more concerned with being healthy: avoiding the diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and eating disorders that have plagued my family.

I am the way I am. And I'm a runner. 

I'm not a size 2. I don't have abs of steel. I don't look like the cover of Runner's World.  I guess somehow that's the world's vision of what a "runner" should look like. Sure, you can jog, you can even run. But if you call yourself a RUNNER you should look like a RUNNER. 

It reminds me of a story I covered months ago. Local business owner Doria Roberts made national news with her "this is what a lesbian looks like" movement. It was in reaction to a politician responding to accusations of adultery. She said she couldn't possibly be a lesbian. She didn't LOOK like one. Thousands of women around the world refuted the stereotype by tweeting pictures of themselves with the hash tag #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike. Participation was amazing. 

So, join me runners. All shapes, all sizes, all ages, all abilities. Tweet a picture, use #ThisIsWhatARunnerLooksLike. Let's break a few stereotypes of our own.  

If you're not on Twitter, but still want to participate in the #ThisIsWhatARunnerLooksLike, you can email pictures to jwolfe@11alive.com and I'll post them!

You can follow Julie on Twitter: @JulieWolfe

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