How Running Made Me Grateful For My “Runner’s” Body

Emily Abbate
by Emily Abbate
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How Running Made Me Grateful For My “Runner’s” Body

Almost every single day, I wake up, lace up and run. It’s like clockwork.

To date I’ve run seven marathons and countless half-marathons. Still, it took my almost six years of logging miles constantly to feel comfortable with calling myself a “runner.”

All of us, regardless of distance or time, have an equal opportunity to run. Because of that, we all have a runner’s body. 

The reality is: It doesn’t matter how fast you’re pushing the pace or if the pavement pounding lasts for 5 or 55 minutes. If you’re running a quick lap around a track or a full marathon. All of us, regardless of distance or time, have an equal opportunity to run. Because of that, we all have a runner’s body. A body worth being proud of — not necessarily for a certain way it looks, but more because of what it does, how it moves and the opportunities it gives us.

THE JOURNEY

There was a time I really struggled with this runner’s body of mine. It hadn’t yet reached its potential. It was before I got hooked on the sport, back in college. At the time, I was tipping the scale at about 70 pounds heavier than I am today. I had lost control of my healthy eating habits, and knew something had to change. I was able to regain control by redefining my relationship with food — and by picking up running.

It definitely didn’t come naturally. In the beginning, I ran about a half-mile every day, which took me, give-or-take, about 14 minutes. I hated mostly every step, but I was determined to enjoy running. Over time, those half-miles went by faster, then they turned into miles, then those miles got faster and suddenly I started to sign up for races. As I ran more and reached for fried foods less, the weight slowly came off. My body started to look similar to what it looks like today.

THE REVELATION

While I used to look at my large, muscular quads as gigantic and unflattering, now, I see legs that have a story to tell. Stories of the early morning miles we tackled everywhere from New York City to Florence, Italy, to Los Angeles, California. Or of the time we ran a mile in under 6:15 (a personal best), and the countless sprints demolished on a treadmill at Barry’s Bootcamp.

look down at my feet — bigger than I’d like at a women’s size 10.5 — and I see stability. Grounding. Support. My arms — defined, toned from the weightlifting I’ve done to supplement all that leg work. My calves, strong. There to propel me uphill when my mind may not be 100% in the game.

These days, I look in the mirror and I see a woman who has worked really, really hard to have a body that lifts her up even when she feels down, enabling her to push through even the most blah, I-really-don’t-feel-like-doing-this runs. I see a body that’s run through awful weather and pushed the pace thanks to tough days full of feelings. I see opportunity.

Most important: I see me, Emily, a runner. A really, really strong runner.

About the Author

Emily Abbate
Emily Abbate

Emily has written for GQ, Self, Shape and Runner’s World (among others). As a certified personal trainer, run and spin coach, she’s often tackling long runs or lifting heavy things. In addition to that, she’s working on Hurdle, a podcast that talks to badass humans and entrepreneurs who got through a tough time —a hurdle of sorts— by leaning into wellness.

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