Home » running shoes » How These 7 Inspirational Runners Overcame Their Body Image Hang-ups

How These 7 Inspirational Runners Overcame Their Body Image Hang-ups

For many women, the idea of running in a public place can be a very daunting thought due to a lack of body confidence.

Not having enough confidence can get to the point where it becomes a challenge to stop the self-doubt and paranoia about what other people are thinking. This can also be a factor which stops many women from running at all.

Although 3 of the 7 women that we interviewed for this article said that they did not run because they feel self-conscience about their body- it doesn’t mean that it has to stay this way.

We asked seven running bloggers about their experiences with body confidence. Here’s what they said.

Amanda Sanchez

www.littlemissfearless.com

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

I have been self-conscious of my body, and how I think it should look, most of my life. My oldest sister is an elite runner and has won marathons in the past. Running wasn’t my sport growing up, but I always had high expectations for myself because my sister was so talented at running.

I always wanted to look like a professional runner—toned arms, 6-pack, lean but strong legs—so my belief (or lack of belief) that I do or don’t “pass” as a runner, has influenced how much I run.

I’ve overcome this by letting go of comparison and what people think. It’s a daily choice for me. But setting my own running goals, being honest with myself about my current endurance level, finding races (like 10k’s and half marathons) that I enjoy running at my own pace, and using my sister’s talents to my advantage (asking for her advice instead of trying to compete with her), have all helped me overcome my insecurities and keep running as part of my lifestyle.

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this? 

My advice for other women who share these struggles is to never stop searching for answers and solutions. Don’t let your insecurities define you or make you stop running. Instead, get curious about what your emotions are telling you (I’ve found Brené Brown’s books to be incredibly helpful in my own life) and find reasons to run that are deeper than your desire to “look like a runner.” For example, I run now because it tests my courage in many ways, courage is one of my core values, and that gets me to hit the pavement or the treadmill even when I’m feeling afraid of what people think. Make running a bigger part of who you are, stay true to that, and running will always be a part of your life.

Miriam Wilcox

www.sometimessporty.com

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

In college, I was a division 1 rower, but I put on a lot of weight once my competitive years ended.  When I first decided to start running, I was worried that the neighbours would see me and judge me for how slow I was going. 

Luckily, I live in a pretty rural area, so I would incorporate the houses as my run intervals and the woods between houses as my woods intervals.  You know what, no one cared.  People would see me at the library and tell me that they admired my determination to keep up with the running.
That’s not to say I haven’t had negative comments. 

People have yelled obscenities at me as I was wrapping up a 16-mile run.  Others have made comments about how running at my weight must be bad for the knees.  But I get out there because I love it.  I enjoy the freedom I get from running. The accomplishment of overcoming the odds.

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this?

Find your tribe:  Our local She Runs This Town group has women of all shapes, sizes, colors, speeds and marital status.  Find a group that is running at your pace.  Get out on the road with them.  You will find that the comradery will make you forget what you look like and hopefully keep coming back for more.

Follow runners of your body type on social media:  We are out there, documenting our journey of fitness and of weight struggles.  Don’t follow people who make you feel bad about your looks or your paces.  Once you feel more confident, share what you’ve accomplished on social media.  People will cheer you on!

Find clothes that makes you feel good:  I have a ton of running skirts.  They are cute, flattering and they hide the spandex shorts I wear when running.  They made me feel good about how I looked.  I always feel more confident when I’m wearing an outfit I love.  If people are staring, it’s because they are looking at my clothes not me.

Find a goal you believe in: My first goal was to be able to run 5ks held during my husband’s marathons.  Every day I followed a plan to the letter.  I didn’t get to feel bad for myself, I had to reach that goal.

Annemarie Vanderwaal

www.amruns.blog

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

About 10 years ago, in my nursing school/party years, I gained about 20lb and felt so insecure in my body and unconfident, made worse when a friend commented on it! I started running then to lose weight, but was easily discouraged and fell off the bandwagon when I didn’t lose the weight.

About 3 years ago I started running as stress relief but mostly because as a palliative care nurse I felt a huge responsibility to live as healthfully as possible and appreciate the strength within myself and my body! Now, the more I run, the more confident I feel.

My body isn’t perfect, but I feel perfect inside in it! I feel so healthy physically and mentally, strong and empowered and have conquered many insecurities as I’ve learned what my imperfect, beautifully strong and healthy body is capable of and I’m still learning that I am and can do so much more! 

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this?

As women, living in a society so influenced by social media, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to other women or believe that society has certain expectations of how we should look or be. Running is the most beautiful and perfect escape from that and making it a daily or nearly daily habit is the best way to overcome your insecurities and embrace your capabilities!

Running and just being so present in those moments, it is just you and the road or the trail and it doesn’t matter what you look like but it’s all about how you feel inside and the power you have inside you! It doesn’t matter what distance you run or how fast, it’s that you ran and took time for yourself and that you feel great about what you can do! 

Jordanna

www.justjordanna.com

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

Before I had my daughter, I used to think I didn’t look athletic enough to be a runner and that my splits and distances weren’t fast or long enough to call myself a runner. Looking back that definitely sucked some of the joy out of running.  I’d finfish a run, I’d feel amazing, but then I’d tell myself ‘one day I’ll be running faster and further, then I can really be proud of myself’. I was absolutely obsessed with the end goal and not the process; it never stopped me running but it stopped me being to enjoy the sport to its full potential.
 
Much to my surprise after giving birth I had an appreciation for my body that I never thought was possible.  I expected to spend hours and days ripping apart my postpartum body and tearing myself up for not hitting certain mileage or splits; but that didn’t happen. I was in complete awe that my body grew and birthed a human, I saw my body in a whole different light.  Every mile I was able to run was a victory, no matter how fast or slow, basically I gave myself grace and had no expectations. Expectations 100% suck the joy out of running, actually they suck the joy out of most things in life.  
 
I still have my moments where I am not strong enough to convince myself I am capable so my husband tells me to turn my thoughts around and tell myself I am capable. For example, I told him the other day that ‘my hamstrings were so weak and looked really undefined’.  With his mantra in mind I told myself out loud ‘ My hamstrings are strong, they have fuelled me to run fast miles and they are getting strong every single day, with every single step I take’.  It is hard to do sometimes, but what we tell ourselves is what our minds believe. 

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this?

My biggest advice would be to be obsessed with the process and not the end goal. Don’t think that you will only ‘be a runner’ when you do X, Y & Z because if you put your shoes on, get out the door and run, you are a runner.   Oh, and give yourself some Grace, you (and your body) are amazing.

Jillian Arany

YouTube: Jillian Arany

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

When I was starting to get more into racing (back in 2011), I didn’t necessarily feel as though people were thinking negatively about my body or running style but rather that I wouldn’t be as successful in my running endeavours because I didn’t have the “typical” runners body. 

I dislike stereotypes, but the typical runners stereotype is tall, extremely lean, and very long legs. Now, if you look at me, I’m only 5 foot 3 inches, I’m not extremely lean, and my legs aren’t super long. Regardless, those attributes have nothing to do with my skills and strength as a runner!

It took me a long time to embrace the idea that every body is a runner’s body! You don’t need to look a certain way, or be a certain weight, or have legs of a certain length to be a runner! One thing that really helped me overcome this insecurity was the Instagram community.

If you search through any running hashtag, whether it be #runner, #runnergirl, or #runnersbody, you will find a wide range women who have various different body types but they all share one thing in common: they are runners! 

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this?

Giving advice to women to help them be less insecure can be hard; however, the one thing that I always remind myself is that if you run, you’re a runner! It goes along with the saying, a 12:00 minute mile or a 6:00 min mile, is still a mile!

It doesn’t matter what size, shape, height, or weight you are because at the end of the day, if you’re running to feel good about yourself and be in control of your health, that’s all that matters.

People will always be judgmental of others but you have the ability to disregard their judgement because at the end of the day, the only person’s whose opinion that matters, is yours. 

Jessica Tondre

www.jessrunsblessed.com

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this? 

Part a) I have experienced insecurity about what other people thought about my body which has in turn made me feel insecure about my body. It started shortly after puberty when I grew 8 inches taller in less than 6 months and my body got bigger along with that.

I went from being a petite gymnast to a tall muscular girl and I hated being called “big,” even if it was in reference to my height. I begin sulking my shoulders and shrinking down in pictures to try to look smaller.

I sometimes still subconsciously do that because I’m taller than most of my friends (I’m 5’7” and change). I’ve never quit running because of it, if anything I’ve run more because of it.

But, I have learned so much about nutrition and the human body since my teenage years and now have two beautiful children of my own that in regard to part b) I overcame the insecurity by accepting my body and appreciating it for what it CAN do more than for what it looks like. Sure, it’s great to take care of it, but we only have one and we have to fuel it not fool it.

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this? 
 

I tell my friends, family members and followers to not let their mind bully their bodies and not let their bodies rule their minds. Our bodies endure so many things unrelated to looks.

Girls have these capabilities and yet typically have an epiphany at some point later in life than boys, who just know that they can. The body IS remarkable and should be treated as such.  

Surrounding yourself with positive people and a positive environment will help you have positive feelings about yourself and help to get you on the way to loving yourself! 

Erin Wrightson

www.thelittlerunnergirl.com

Have you ever experienced insecurity about what other people think about your body or your running style, which has stopped you from running? If so, how did you overcome this?

As someone who suffered for many years with an eating disorder, I experienced insecurity about what other people think about my body ALL THE TIME.

I am recovered from me ED, but the insecurity is still there sometimes, but I am much stronger no to handle those moments. 

Those insecurities have never once stopped from running because I constantly remind myself how much I’ve overcome to be where I’m at.  Reminding myself how strong and able my body is. That it is working hard to prepare to carry me 26.2 miles and to recover from the many miles I run each week.

What advice would you give to women on how they can overcome this?

That is also my advice for others.  Every BODY is different and just because someone looks one way doesn’t mean you should try to look that way.

Your body is doing amazing things every day and every day you push yourself, you’re taking your body one step further than it has done before. That is something to celebrate, I think!  


These running bloggers are proof that there is a way conquer insecurities and you can do it too; with time, self-love and encouragement from loved ones.

Do you struggle with your body image? Does it stop you from running? Share your experience in the comments!

Share