For some time, this has troubled me. A lot.
When I first started running, weight loss was not on my mind or focus. I had a goal - to run 1 mile. That of course, grew to finish my first race, which happened to be a half marathon.
Even then, my young son was asking me how much weight was I wanting to lose? I got annoyed a few times and then asked him why he asked. His reply was simple, "my friends are asking. They said the only reason that people run is to lose weight".
What a misconception!
While there are many runners who have gone from couch to a 5k and more, why are we assuming that every runner story begins with weight loss?
- I know of a former alcoholic who is a runner. No weight loss needed.
- I know of a former victim of domestic abuse, who used running as her therapy.
- I know of a woman who enjoys the run. Period. No loss or victim story.
- I know of a man who runs to bring him a sense of fulfillment. Again, no weight loss or victim story.
I challenge you with this. Why is there a need to have a "I once was...." to justify running? Cannot we simply run to run? Is it a shame to say "I run, because I love it"
While sharing our background and our story can (sometimes) inspire others, I am more inspired by those who are enjoying the training, the run, the race and achieving goals.
I don't want to look into someone's past, I want to see where they are right now and where do they want to go?
I want to celebrate their run, this very moment. Who they once were is no bearing on my opinion of who they are today.
At what point do we let go of the past and move onward to new goals? When do we become the "former fat person" or "former (fill in the blank)" and just be who you are right now?
After all, when we are racing side by side on a course, all that matters is where you are and where you will be in the next minute or hour. Running levels the playing field and the only thing that matter is being in the present, not looking into the past.
I am not saying to forget about your past and where you came from, but I encourage everyone to stop judging yourself and others based on their running weight loss story or any past story, for that matter. I encourage everyone to focus on the story you and they write today.
Running is not only about weight loss
Running is not only about chasing after personal demons
Running is fun. Shouldn't that be enough story to share?
I leave you with this photo. A group photo of runners, even if two are not running on this day. Which one has lost over 100 lbs? Which runner has been divorced? Which runner battles with depression? Or none of the above?
Does it matter? Are you less inspired because you don't know who has a personal story (if any story)?
Enjoy the runner for who they are and who you are. Not what they (and you) were, but look forward to what they (and you) will become, through running.
(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-14
Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and Island Boost
*Team Super Hero Master's Elite 2013-14
*Founder, Running Troops
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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