I’m not your typical runner. I’m curvy girl with a lot of extra padding, and I’ve struggled with my weight since childhood. For most of my life, exercise seemed more like a punishment for my unhealthy decisions than a positive choice in itself.
Years ago, when I started seeing people sharing about their workouts on social media, I got annoyed. I’d roll my eyes at all those Runkeeper posts, wondering why everyone had to make such a big deal about their latest run. I acted like I was annoyed at them, but in truth, I was the issue. I was jealous of their courage and discipline. I was frustrated by my own insecurities. I believed I couldn’t do what they were doing, and I was afraid to try.
Thankfully I had friends and coworkers who inspired me and challenged me. The lightbulb went on the year I turned 39 (probably because 40 was looming large in the distance). I decided to start working out, and the first time I used Runkeeper was in September of 2010. Since then, I’ve hit some milestones and experienced some setbacks, and I’ve logged over 1600 activities.
I remember the first time I did a 5K race. A friend from work challenged me to participate in a 5K taking place during a work function. “If I help you train, would you try it?” By this point I’d walked that far on my own, but the thought of doing it with other people in a race frightened me. And the event was only 10 days out. I swallowed hard and said yes. I knew it would be tough, but I followed the training schedule he sent me.
We got to the course on race day, and I was surprised at how shaky I felt. The distance wasn’t the issue; I was nervous about the very real possibility of coming in last and how that would feel. I dreaded the embarrassment of having everyone standing around waiting for me. I was having flashbacks of all those torturous high school gym classes when we had to run laps and everyone laughed as I trudged through the last half mile.
It turns out, I did come in last, but it wasn’t the negative experience I’d feared. I was surrounded by friends who cheered me on and encouraged me. I finished with a time of 57:52 and was proud of myself for having done it.
Three months later I did another 5K at another work event, and finished last again, but I wasn’t upset. I shaved two minutes off my time (on a MUCH hillier course), and I was glad I’d tried it again and even improved. That day I learned that those other runners were never my competition. I don’t have to beat anyone else but me. I don’t need to be the best, I just need to be better than I was last time.
Here I am, years later, still working on improving my health. I accept that I may never be a size 6, and that’s not my goal. My goal is simply to live an active and healthy life, to enjoy the benefits of the good choices I make, and to inspire my daughter to do the same.
I don’t have to be slim and toned to be considered a runner. Running makes me a runner. My speed and my size don’t matter, because as long as I’m moving, I am a runner.
I’m so thankful for Runkeeper because it gives me something concrete to shoot for, something to track that isn’t a number on the scale but a benchmark of my overall health.
If you’re not sure you can do it, let me say you can. Hit that timer, take your first steps, and see how far ago. Join us—because the moment you start, you’re a runner.
Runners like Amanda are what the Runkeeper community is all about! Stories like hers inspired us to add a new vendor to the Runkeeper Store…introducing Lola Getts Active—workout clothes for curvy women sizes 14-28. Shop it here now!