Monday, November 25, 2013

Runners Physique and The Normal Person

I follow a blog that provides at-home CrossFit style workouts for moms. I do the workouts a few times per week and they are really good. Lately there have been a lot of running workouts, usually something like 5 rounds of run 400 meters, 20 dead lifts, 20 sit ups. I actually skip most of the running workouts, not because I can't do them, but because I already have a hard time squeezing in a full run without having to do those intervals. Plus, I do interval training and sprints. Yes, I would get faster quicker if I did them, and yes, I would see some great results physically. I also hate having to drag my weights outside to complete the workout. I am more prone to do it if there are on,y body weight exercises. I do enjoy these workouts and I know they have made me stronger, I just skip the running because, frankly, already run. I could tack on a longer run, maybe I should do that.

Today, the author posted this image:

She then said that readers won't get the same results if they combine the running intervals instead of doing shorter sprints. This is true. I won't deny that. You can find articles and posts from scholars, health experts, and any average joe with a simple google search.

But I take issue with something else in this image, especially as it was posted on the website targeting moms.

And that is the meaning that average women can have the physique of a serious sprinter by doing those workouts. That is highly unlikely without a lot of work, and the workouts on this website will not deliver those results by themselves. Yes, doing HIIT workouts and running sprints will help you lose weight and tone up. But you will not have the same physique as a high-training athlete, especially ones that compete at the levels pictured here. They definitely don't do only 5 rounds of 400m sprints per day. They don't only do 5 rounds of 20 squats or deadlifts or pull ups. They train for much longer than 20 minutes per day.

On the other end, I also take issue with the implied message that you will look like these hardcore marathoners. Not all marathoners look like that, especially the casual ones. The average distance runner will be slim, but not look like walking skeletons. The marathon pictures are really unflattering, and are taken when they are tired from their efforts.

Normal people, like me and most of the women who follow that blog, will probably not have the physique of either types of runners. We aren't high-training runners or exercisers.

All the pictures I see for "thinspiration" are of women in teeny bikinis with hot abs. Isn't this just as bad as comparing yourself to a celebrity body? Most women won't look like super models. Most women won't look like professional athletes. The athletes, both sprinters and marathoners, train incredibly hard. They push their bodies to the limit. The normal person who has a job, cares for their kids, cleans the house and tries to get a workout in will not meet the same strength, appearance, or endurance points.

I ran a half marathon! I am not thin. I do want to lose some weight. But, I am amazed at my body's capabilities and am so grateful that I have a healthy body.

Our bodies are amazing no matter what they look like. I think the most important thing to do is to take care of our bodies.

Weigh in. What do you think about that image and others like it?

Have you struggled with your body image in the past?
I have, but I have accepted my body as it is and its capabilities. That doesn't mean I don't want to be as healthy as I can, it just means that I'm not obsessed with it.

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