I have a question for you.
I you saw someone trying to make some positive life choices, even though they’re hard to do and they’ve had to overcome some pretty big personal issues to do them, what would you do?
a) Encourage them.
b) Leave them alone – after all, they’re not hurting anyone.
c) Cat call them / shout at them in the street / mutter nasty comments at them as they go by?
If the answer is ‘c’ – congratulations! You’re one of the wankers who likes to pass judgement on me when I go on my morning run. Pat yourself on the back, because you really are quite special.
A bit of background. I’m a big girl. I know I’m a big girl. I’m not huge – a UK size 16-18 – but I don’t kid myself; that’s still bigger than I should be. Lots and lots of people – mostly strangers – like to remind me of this. This is why I don’t do selfies. Hell, I don’t do photos at all if I can help it. I’d much rather have a cartoon representing me than, you know, actually me.
This year, though, I decided I wasn’t going to let the fear of Other People’s Opinions stop me from doing something I wanted to do. I’m also going to be a bridesmaid at the end of May, and that means I won’t be able to avoid the dreaded camera, so I thought ‘to hell with this – I need to do something drastic’.
So I started running.
Literally. One day, I put on my trainers, got an old pair of decorating trousers out of my wardrobe, found an old band shirt, bought a sports bra and ran round the park. Well, not so much ran as ‘ran a few steps, struggled to breath, walked a bit, tried to run a bit more, thought God, whose stupid idea was this?, waked a bit, ran a bit more and then went home’. It wasn’t a huge success, but hell, I’d tried and survived, so I decided to do it again. And again. And again.
After about 5 sessions, I could get round the park without walking, which was a huge boost. Then over the next 2 weeks, I got up to 3 times round the park. After that, I decided to go off piste, and have started running around my estate, going where my feet take me. I can now run, without walking, for about 15-20 minutes. When I started at the end of February, I couldn’t make two minutes.
Now this is all very nice and encouraging – my anxiety is better, I feel more energised, I feel more inspired to write when I come home – but it comes with a downside. Yep, that’s right – other people.
Other runners tend to be fine. If I come across them (they are invariably svelte, lycra-clad paragons of fitness), they often give me a little smile, or a thumbs-up. I appreciate this. I may be six times their size, plodding a long at a pace they could probably walk at, but I like to think that they’ve recognised that everyone has to start somewhere and at least I’m trying. Most other people, to be honest, just ignore me. That’s fine, too. I like that. When I’m doing something that makes my flabby bits wobble and breathe like an angry dragon, I am more than happy for people to ignore me. But some people… some people feel the need to say something. It might be muttered as I jog past – or in the case of the lad riding his moped this morning (oh, the irony!) – yelled as loudly as possible. A few examples: ‘Look at the state of it’. ‘Jeeeeesus…’. ‘God sake’. And my favourite from this morning (and what inspired this blog): ‘WELL. RUN THEN, FAT BITCH!’
Well, run then, fat bitch.
Said by someone riding a moped.
I don’t know why people feel the need to do this. Think it, sure, but yell it? Why? What does it gain you? A feeling of superiority? I know fat-shaming is the new black, but I also thought the ‘eat less, move more FATTY!’ brigade would be all for seeing an overweight person trying their best to actually do something about it. But no… they’d rather yell spiteful things at someone minding their own business, hurting no-one at all.
I know I might be setting myself up for a shit load of backlash for this (fat girl trying to better herself – quick! Join the queue!), but I’m fed up of it. I’m not going to stop running. I’ve actually discovered that I like it. I now go 4-5 times a week, out of choice. So, wankers, you can shout yourself hoarse for all I care. I’ve got my swearing fingers out, ready to give you a big ‘fuck you’.
Saying that, if you ever are in Pompey and you see a short, round, ginger woman in bright blue trainers wearing a NIN band shirt looking incredibly pink pounding the streets with a big grin on her face, feel free to wave. 🙂