In the December 2, 2008 issue of Newsweek, on page 20, we’re treated to an essay titled “Confessions of a Fat Runner.”
I’m not sure what to make of it.
My first reaction was of great interest. Hey, I thought, I’m a fat runner! (Whee! I’m a runner! I’m not over that yet.) My interest quickly turned to confusion; the woman who is pictured is not at all fat. No, really. Not just not-fat in comparison to really-fat me – she’s Not Fat. She’s posing a little weirdly, one leg crossed in front of the other as if she’s trying to hide her thighs or something – but she’s in running pants. You know, tight. She’s very obviously not fat.
She’s a size 14, apparently. This is how she describes herself:
“Most runners are ectomorphs: emaciated and square-jawed. Me, I’m an endomorph, posessed of a soft and thick body that looks as if it was stuffed to order at Build-A-Bear, not sculpted at an L.A. sports club. I look so unlike a runner that, when I first started jogging, passing motorists would pull over and ask if I needed a ride.”
Having read it a few times now, I don’t think there’s a clear point to the essay. Here are some possible conclusions you could draw from what she writes:
- Not all runners are thin.
- Running doesn’t make you thin.
- Running is a fat-friendly sport.
- Running is fun.
Ok. I mean, those are generally positive conclusions, and ones I pretty much agree with. (Not so sure about running being fat-friendly. I run by myself; my running is wildly fat-friendly. I’m all “Whoo! You look awesome, fatgirlonadate! Nice job! You are WORKIN’ those skintight bootcut running pants that were obviously intended for pre-teens.” But elsewhere?) She makes a nice point about how she’s run 10 miles a week for the past 20 years and hasn’t lost any weight, but she counters that with a wisecrack about how losing weight would require eating less ice cream, and gee whiz she’s just not willing to do that.
So there’s not much to the essay. But I’d love to hear from an actual fat runner – someone like me, a size 24, except maybe someone who’s been running for more than, oh, a month – in a magazine with an audience as large as Newsweek’s. I’d love to see someone write about the struggle to find high-quality gear in plus sizes, or the conversations they have with folks whose minds are blown when they realize that the chick who’s eight sizes larger than them runs three miles a day, or what it’s like to run races when you’re twice the size of the other runners.
My experience has been superlative, so far. I found running gear that is working brilliantly (thanks Brooks! thanks Enell! thanks Moving Comfort!). I run through my quiet neighborhood and have received from folks I pass or who pass me only waves, smiles, and wry comments about their own failings (“Hey, I do what I can!” said an old, old man with a crooked smile that I jogged past on Thanksgiving). Every single person I’ve told about my running – and I tell everyone, working under the belief that if I tell people then I’ll be too embarrassed to quit – has been interested and supportive and not at all flabbergasted; three people have started running, or started running again, since I told them what I was doing.
I’m running my first race on March 22*. That’s a week after my thirtieth birthday, and my father might run it with me. Then, a few weeks later, I’m running the Cherry Blossom 5K in D.C., with my sister, who will just off a six-month layoff following a stress fracture she got in training for the Marine Corps marathon.
Wish me luck!
* Yeah, the website’s funky. It’s still showing the 2008 info.