Kelly Clarkson sings:
“If you wanna lead, be a leader. If you wanna dream, be a dreamer…. Remember that the footprints you’re leaving will tell us all who you really are… It’s too bad we can’t see what you’re worth…Character is shown by things we do…”….
So if you want to be a runner… you run.
Recently at a run, I engaged in several conversations with some runners. One was running her 1st ever 5k. She kept telling me she was not a runner because she is not fast. She kept saying she is not like everyone else. My reply… You want to be a runner and you’re here today running, guess what you are a runner. Welcome to the family.
There is this hidden, quiet unspoken stigma or label that is put on runners, new runners, plus size runners that speed is what you need to be welcomed to the club/family. You don’t know how hard it is for someone to share this dream, to show up to a registered run, to run. When we feel we don’t look the part.
Our character and how we choose to show it to others is the foot prints we are leaving behind, even with someone you just meet. The way you present yourself, your views on running, is leaving a foot print, whether it be the stranger, a child (maybe your own), or a co-worker. In our character/make up we should be helping everyone, including that stranger you see waiting for a run to start. When we are supportive this is our character showing.
We as runners within this unique family need to encourage others, listen to their dreams, support the dreams of others. We need to change the label that running truly does not discriminate. Your size does not define your finish. You finish, you finished the same run as the rest of us. I can’t get passed the label that is associated with running. When someone yesterday casually said it was good for me to make it out to “walk”. I replied, no I am running. This body, this mind and this heart RUNS.
Foot prints we leave in the pavement for others to see: this is us showing our characters, we did not give up. Yes YOU can do this. We should never squish, or toss aside someone’s aspirations in becoming a runner. We as runners, fast or slow, need to encourage others to join this family. Someone has dreamed this, accepted they need to come out of their comfort zone to just try.
Anyone can be a runner, if someone told me I was not a runner because of my time etc, I’d happily point out that we cross the same finish line. My time is my journey, my story and part of my goals. Not yours.
I dreamed over 3 years ago to become a runner, to maybe just try this, give up being a cheerleader for one run, to see if I could do this. I never factored in that I am plus size, people are going to look, gawk and make comments. No I factored in, I have a dream. I want to be able to say I am a runner to people. I want to feel a part of a family, which is unique all on its own. I made my dream a reality and have not looked back.
One of the women at yesterday’s run. I crossed before her; I waited around the finish line to see her cross and offered congratulations in doing an amazing job. Everyone needs cheerleaders, whether you are cow-belling it for a random stranger or for family. Those cheers, smiles and “almost there” keep us going. (Even though I feel like we never are “almost there”.
I was super proud of this woman, she got off the couch, she put on runners and she crossed the finish. Another dream became a reality. Another goal accomplished.
To some of us it’s a miracle we even started this journey. We faced down fears in ways I can’t even describe. It is a blessing to finish.
My dream…. One day is to bring in the back of the pack. Make the ones who are struggling to make it to the finish, feel supportive, have the encouragement and know that someone does care. Not to let someone face the fear of being last alone.
A year ago this weekend was the Nike Women’s Run here in Toronto. I can tell you my dream was just to finish, not be “swept”, just to finish and be proud I did 15k. When I crossed the finish line, Nike was tearing down parts of the finish line; there wasn’t a soul to be found at the finish, but my best friend, who cheered me on. Unless you’ve been near the dead last you don’t understand the fear. This fear is mixed in with the dream of running and the what-ifs.
So who ever reads this, ignore the fears, ignore the “I can’t”. If you come in last it doesn’t matter. You accomplished your dream. You became a runner. You made your own dream a reality. Screw the rest of the people who you think are judging you. Who cares if you have a few extra pounds of beautiful. It’s your dream. Make it a reality. Be proud of your dreams; be proud you become a runner. This is an accomplishment NO ONE can take from you.
To my running family who might read this… I challenge you at your next run once finished to go back to the finish line and cheer in random strangers for an extra 15mins, just see the smiles and tears on people who have accomplished this dream. This goal. Take yourself back to when you first started out running. See the experience through someone else’s eyes, feel that extra vibe that comes with the back of the pack.
The pack of the back is not a bad place to be at all. I’m proud that I made my dream a reality. I am a runner.