She might weigh a 100 kg, but Mirna is challenging the stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same with her exploits in endurance running.
The movement to prove that fitness is not one-size-fits-all is growing, and it’s a paradigm shift from what we are used to seeing — glossy, exclusive content in magazines and workout guides. There’s a stereotype that all fit people are muscular and toned. Stereotypes are everywhere — we keep hearing that “boys are rough”, “girls are delicate”, “men are aggressive”, or “women are calm and gentle” — what’s concerning is that people can let these perceptions become reality, defining who they are.
Every sport has them — everything in the world has them! Stereotypes exist everywhere, and running is no exception.
Runners come in all shapes and sizes. And guess what? Chubby people can run, too. Of the many misconceptions that exist about plus-size people, the notion that they don’t care about fitness is one of the most narrow-minded.
Mirna Valerio, ultramarathon runner, writer, teacher and public speaker, is challenging the stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same with her exploits in endurance running. At 100-plus kg, she’s inspiring people to believe that health and fitness need not be determined by size. In fact, it may have very little to do with the way we look. “I started running in high school as a way to condition for field hockey and lacrosse,” she says. “I immediately fell in love with the way it made me feel. I’ve never really had a goal of looking like other runners, because, well, I was running and continue to run for the benefits it brings to my overall health and spirit. My body is what it is, and it happens to love running. I’m extraordinarily proud of who I am.”
People generally have an obsession with the body beautiful image that is portrayed in advertising, infomercials and the media. Most people think that you can tell if someone’s fit, active and healthy just by looking at them. It’s not true. Fit, healthy people come in all sizes and shapes. We need to change our attitude toward fitness and pay more respect to how it makes you feel.
Mirna has finished 10 marathons including Boston, NYC and Marine Corps and 11 Ultra Marathons, including The North Face Endurance Challenge in Washington DC (notorious for the tough technical terrain) and also finished eight Tough Mudders (endurance event series in which participants attempt 10-12 mile-long obstacle courses).
“Exercise is the right of everyone, thus everyone should feel entitled to start and/or continue their journey in fitness, whether it involves running or not. You should feel very entitled, no matter who you are and no matter what your body type is, to move your body in the fashion that it was meant to move. Put your trainers on, get outside and go. It’s that simple! To me running is a means to know myself deeply. It is also my preferred mode of exercise, and it is part of my plan for long-term health and wellness,” says Mirna.
Which brings to mind the famous saying of Canadian YouTube personality, vlogger, author and actress Lilly Singh: Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.
(The writer can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org)