it’s official!

I am now a runner. Well… I guess, as of today, I am a person who owns running shoes. Tomorrow, after I take my first training run, I will be a capital-R Runner.


Brooks "Adrenaline"

Here’s the thing: My beautiful and beloved sister started running last year. She trained for and completed a half-marathon this spring, and was in training for a full marathon this fall when she broke her leg. We’d all bought our flights to DC to watch the race by then, so we showed up anyway. I love watching marathons. I love cheering for everyone as they go by, and I always stay until the very last person (followed by the ambulance that marks the end of the race) goes by. It is inspiring.

Anyway, we watched the Marine Corps Marathon at miles 18 and 19 (just across the Capitol Mall; a mile between them for the runners, just a few steps for the onlookers). This means that everyone who was going past us was kicking ass, whether they finished the marathon or not. They all made it to nearly 20 miles! And you know what? They all looked completely different. There were people so thin you’d think they couldn’t run around the block without keeling over. There were people so fat you’d think they couldn’t run at all. People who trained hard and got big muscles. People who trained hard and got lean and wiry. People who trained hard (everyone trained hard; you can’t just up and run 19 miles on a whim) who didn’t look any different from when they started. It gets you thinking: Hey, maybe I can do this.

So, my dad (6’7″, over 300 pounds, 65 years old) and I (5’11”, around 300 pounds, 29 years old) decided to train for a 5K.

We did some research and chose a super-beginner running program, one that starts with buying shoes (check!) and some verrrrry easygoing runs (20 minutes 3 a week, to start – with one minute of running to every 6 minutes of walking!). I’ve been looking forward to the actual running, but I was psyching myself out about the buying of running shoes.

My runner-sister insisted that we get real running shoes. Like, from a running store, one that will analyze your stride and measure your feet and pick out the perfect, ninety-bazillion dollar shoe that will make you fleet and unstoppable. The kind of store, that is, that I imagine to be hostile to a fat person.

Here’s what I imagined: Walking into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. Tripping over my words as I tried to explain that, yeah, um, even though I’m so damned fat, I’m going to run. Trying to do so without equivocating – “Yeah, I’m trying to get in shape so I decided to start running…”. Huffing and puffing on a treadmill as they watched and decided I needed the super-duper-heavy-duty-“keep this chick from falling on her face” motion control shoes. Buying the first shoes I found, fleeing, leaving the super-fit to laugh and set bets on how many runs I’ll make before I quit.

Here’s what happened: I walked into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. I tripped over my words as I tried to explain that I needed some shoes ’cause I was just starting to run. I did not make any comments about trying to lose weight or get in shape (neither of which are my goals in doing this). I walked up and down the length of the store a couple of times, as a charming super-fit man named Gunther and a charming super-fit woman named Karen watched the way my feet moved. Was unreasonably proud of myself when they said that I didn’t need the heavy-duty motion control shoes (for people with severe pronation) but the medium-duty stability shoes. Tried on a bunch, with lots of attention and help from charming and friendly Gunther and Karen. Got advice on which to buy. Bought some. Was told that there was a sale on apparel, and when I asked whether they had my size, was pleased to note that Gunther didn’t seem to notice that I might need a special size – and that he was chagrined to say that they didn’t carry plus-sizes. Left, with cheery goodbyes from Gunther and Karen and requests that I stop back in to let them know how the shoes are fitting and how the running is going.

In short: It was awesome. Now I have shoes. I am going to run tomorrow and I am going to be fleet and unstoppable. Go me!


17 responses to “it’s official!

  1. Congratulations on getting started! This is cool. I agree, the running store is intimidating, and I love how you made a point of not equivocating or minimizing what you were doing. Also, awesome job pointing out that they didn’t have plus sizes. Maybe that will give them something to think about. If you are comfortable doing so, you might want to post the name of the running store (or else give it a positive online review somewhere) because it sounds like a very positive kind of place. It would be cool if other fat people (and non-hardbodies in general) could give them business.

    I have one tiny quibble–I ran a 10K in under an hour this spring and currently run for an hour 4 days a week. So I’m too slow to necessarily be a “serious runner,” but I’ve been at it for a while and have a fair amount of endurance. I still need the super-duper motion control shoes. I think it has to do with the needs of your feet and joints (I had plantar fasciitis, which is mostly gone, but I don’t like to take chances with it) moreso than “all fat people need stability shoes.” I read an entry a while back from a woman who was around my size and had purchased the stability shoes on the recommendation of her running store, even though they were quite different from the ones she had been using. She ended up getting injured and had to go back to the more cushioned shoes that she would typically use. For me it probably would have been the opposite, and we weighed almost exactly the same. It’s interesting how much variation there is between people.

  2. It’s great when the salespeople are actually friendly and helpful, instead of being judgmental and make you feel like in high school all over again.

    As I wrote in my blog yesterday, I went through a similar experience recently while buying a winter coat. The first place was ok, the second was downright a pisser and the third was a charm (the girl, who quite petite, was helpful and nice and didn’t get all puffy because I dared to want to buy a Columbia jacket).

  3. Would you care to share the name (and/or url) of the super beginner running program you found? I decided to take up running years ago, but gave it up when I couldn’t find a training program I could keep up AND because the neighborhood I lived in at the time was so bad (as in crime-ridden). I now live in a MUCH better neighborhood and would love to give running a try again.

  4. Huzzah!

    There’s an awesome tri-sport store near me, where I have felt really welcomed. They seem to be aware that everybody who runs (or bikes, or swims) was, at one point, a person who did not. Their goal is to convert as many as possible. :) I’ve done both bike and tri clinics with them, and though I was brutally outclassed by every other participant (and left early, wheezing, to go get diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma) I was still made welcome.

    Result: I shop there for stuff. Funny that.

  5. And also: Yay you! Not “maybe you can do this” but “you can totally do this!”

  6. Yeah I’d love to try that running program. My dog would also love it if I tried it. I really want to be able to run with him, I think he’d really really like it. Please post a link, or a name, or whatever! Dying to Know!

    Maybe we could start a running fatties group or something.

  7. Oh, awesome! I have also recently started running, after giving it up for several years. (I ran a marathon in 2003 and stopped running the day after.)
    My beginner runner program sounds very much like yours, but I still haven’t gotten up the courage to go into the running store. The last time I did, I spent a crapload of $$ on shoes that didn’t fit, but were pushed on me by salesfolks who didn’t listen.
    I’m so glad you had a great experience! Keep us updated on how it goes!

  8. I’m so inspired I want to cry lol and then go running!!!!!

  9. Congrats on taking the first step of buying the proper shoes! I ran my first 5K a few weeks ago, after training all summer. While I didn’t set any land speed records, I finished the entire distance without once stopping to walk, not even for a second. Imagine that, me…a fat runner! lol I It was great to cross that finish line and I raised a bunch of money for charity but I discovered it was really the journey towards the goal that made me the happiest. Best wishes for good miles :)

  10. I just started the Couch to 5k running program (for the third time). It’s a bit progressive but I plan on repeating weeks until I feel comfortable to move on to the next one instead of pushing myself when I’m not ready.

    I admit, I didn’t have the guts to go to the running store to get my shoes. I just went to Dicks. Also I wasn’t sure I’d keep with it and didn’t want to spend a huge amount on shoes that I might not use. Luckily, so far the shoes I have have been serving me well.

  11. I have to agree with Spaced Cowgirl, give these good people a shout out on Yelp.

  12. Yay for you! I have a bit of social anxiety, and going in an athletic goods store is waaaaay up there on the list of things I’d have to be desperate to do.

  13. spacedcowgirl: Oh, I totally know. My sister, who – as noted – runs marathons and weighs, I don’t know, half of what I weigh, wears motion control shoes. I KNOW it doesn’t have anything to do with ability or size or whatever. I was just lumping it in there as another thing to be anxious about.

    Thanks for all the great comments, everyone. I’ll post a link to the store and the running program in a new post right now.

  14. Yay! Please keep us posted! I was on the path to running when I got sidelined by some stomach issues but I can’t wait to get back at it.
    Sometimes I think the most important lesson I learn (over and over) is that not all not-fat people are fat-hating (or even fat-noticing).
    This was such an encouraging post!

  15. Pingback: more on running « Fat Girl on a Date

  16. I was just lumping it in there as another thing to be anxious about.

    Hee! I definitely know what you mean. Running store employees (or other runners, or whoever) could not possibly actually be paying attention to all the stuff I invent to be self-conscious about.

  17. Pingback: Recycling some old posts… « Fat Girl on a Run

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