You Belong

You Belong

Lisa Jhung
Writer and Author of Running That Doesn't Suck: How To Love Running (Even If You Think You Hate It)
July 28, 2023

No matter your pace, your form, or how much you walk, you’re a runner.

I’ve heard new or returning runners saying they’re afraid of looking silly or getting ridiculed while running. Maybe they think their form is bad. Or they’re self-conscious because they’re overweight, or think they run really slowly. I’ve heard people say things like, “I barely run,” or “I run, if you can call it that.” Or worse, I’ve heard that some people won’t go out on a run out of fear of not looking the part.

But no matter how fast or slow you run, how much walking versus running you do when you’re out, what your form looks like, or what you’re wearing, you need to know this: You belong out there. You’re just as much a runner as a marathoner. You’re out there, running shoes laced up, doing it.

Unless there’s some big-time jerk in your neighborhood actually ridiculing people as they run by, chances are very high that all these fears are self-imposed. And while it’s natural to feel intimidated by something new, keeping yourself from doing that thing out of fear isn’t fair to the inner you who matters. The one who gets stronger every single time you lace up your shoes.

The truth is, people are different. Running forms vary from one human to the next. Paces vary. When I see someone out running slowly, or run/walking, or running with form that isn’t prescribed by a form specialist—even when I see someone running with a form (a gait) that looks like it hurts—I think this: Good for them! I find it incredibly inspiring.

If you find yourself in the camp of people who fear running due to self-consciousness, creating a positive mantra can help quiet those negative thoughts. Repeating to yourself something like, “I’m out here,” or “I belong here,” or “I’m doing this” can help make you believe it yourself.

I like to remind people who complain about being dead last at a race, or who run slowly and walk a lot and almost apologize for it that they’re out there and other people are not. They’ve finished the race ahead of everyone else who didn’t show up. They’ve run the loop, or walked the loop better/faster/more than everyone else who’s sitting on their couch or at their desk.

My point is to be proud of yourself, and know you belong.

And if you’re seeking a little extra motivation on this topic, look up Mirna Valerio, known as The Mirnavator (@themirnavator). This amazing human being runs ultramarathons at her own pace, in her unique body. Her owning-it attitude has earned her numerous sponsorship deals, and a book deal. Most recently, she’s been featured on a giant billboard in Toronto running as a Lululemon ambassador. She belongs, you belong. We all belong.

Happy running!

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