Runners aren't all skinny minnies

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014

"I still can't believe you're a runner. I mean when I think of runners I think of thin, I mean really skinny people. Not people like you."

A male colleague who uttered these words to me recently then immediately started backtracking. I knew what he was trying to say - that often the top runners tend to be of very lean body shapes. 

Words like athletic, shapely, curvy and muscly are often used to describe me.

My Oma (grandma) told me when I was about 13 that I had "good birthing hips" and "strong shoulders".

My body shape is what it is and while exercise will change it to some extent, I will always be broader, taller and wider-hipped.

I'm totally at ease, and happy, with this. I'm within a normal weight range. I'm fit and I'm healthy.

You only need to watch any sporting event to see that all sorts of body shapes and sizes take part.

Take last weekend's Coast to Coast for example. Sure, among the the top athletes there were similarities, but look at the rest of the field and there was a wide range of shapes and sizes - the one thing all these athletes had in common is they are strong. 

As a bystander I don't think you can comment on someone if they are doing it slowly or look weird while running/cycling/kayaking, as they're doing it and you're not.

A few years ago, British Olympic triathlete Hollie Avil shocked the sports world when she quit after revealing she had an eating disorder which had been sparked by an off-hand comment about her shape by a coach.

She later admitted she would watch back videos of races to compare her body shape to other athletes. 

Closer to home cricketer Jesse Ryder has often copped flak for his "fat" appearance and so has rugby player Piri Weepu, but I bet chances are they're both fitter than most of us.

When I was a teenager I remember doing a race where a much larger woman was beating me. I'm ashamed to admit that at the time I thought that was not fair at all - how could this woman be beating me? I was almost half her size. But, the truth is size doesn't equate to fitness.

It goes the opposite way too - some of my "smaller" friends are actually way less fit than I am. 

The point is, you can't judge a book by its cover and you shouldn't.

And to my male colleague - I'd suggest you stop commenting on women's body sizes! You're lucky I knew what you meant, but if I was particularly sensitive on weight issues then that could've upset me. 

Do you think people are too judgemental when it comes to other people's sizes? Do you think someone can be larger and fit?

Comment below, email me on rachel.young@press.co.nz or follow me on Twitter @YoungRachelS

- The Press

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