So I’ve had this idea fermenting in my head for six months now: a photo essay titled What Does a Mother Runner Look Like? A collection of pictures that celebrates the bodies that have carried us through all kinds of miles. I want to show that kickass strong and stretch marks go together–and that, despite what the cover of Runner’s World may broadcast, all sizes and shapes of bodies can be and are runners.
I waffled for a long time, though, because I know how easily we women can fall into the how-great-is-her-body and how-much-does-mine-suck game? And I am not willing to promote those kind of sports. (Running? Yes. Jealousy? No.) So here’s my caveat: if you’re going to go into this post with a coveting attitude, covet just one thing: the fact that these women are so proud of their awesome, capable bodies, they’re willing to put them on display.
I recruited a couple of pals to kickstart the project, because nobody likes to be first to the party. Initially, I had a very rigid idea of what I thought would work (individuals only, sports bras, short or skirt, in front of plain backdrop, whole body, head cropped off) and then I realized being rigid doesn’t make anybody’s life–and especially mine–easy.
What follows is the beginnings of the album: some are group shots, some are alone, some mostly show bellies, others show full bodies, some are headless mother runners and others aren’t. As I work on being flexible, we want you–all of you, no matter how fit you feel, no matter how many little stretchy rivulets run along your abs, no matter if you’re currently channeling badass or not–to join in.
Please send us a picture of yourself as a mother runner. You can be with a pal (the two- or four-legged kind); you can crop off your head or not (or ask me to do it); you can be as revealing as you want. (We’d prefer to see you in a sports bra, please, to keep some consistency with the pics.) Might be good to take the pic before a run so we don’t get you in all your sweaty glory, but we’ll take that too.
Info to include:
Age; number of kids (fine if you don’t have any); number of years you’ve been a runner; proudest running moment; favorite body part (no wiggling out of this one).
Pull it together and send it to: runmother at gmail dot com.
I will then pull it together in some cool photo album app thing and so the world will know what a mother runner looks like: proud, human, strong, badass.
Proudest running moment: Just a month ago when I got to run Hood to Coast, I was very overwhelmed after finishing my last leg.
Favorite body part: My brain because it is one part that keeps getting better with age well for me anyway; knowledge and wisdom increase with the years. If it has to be a visible part, it’s my legs. I truly believe that running saved my life and got me out of postpartum depression for good.
Proudest running moment: finishing my first marathon in 1999. I felt like I could have kept running even after 26.2 miles!
Favorite body part: My arms! Always the easiest part to show how hard you have been working out!
Proudest running moment: clocking 4:01 at the Big Sur Marathon.
Favorite body part: my calves.
Proudest running moment: standing at the starting line of my first marathon.
Favorite body part: my legs. They have carried me countless miles and they’re stronger than I give them credit for. They respond to strength training and hill running by getting stronger. If I would just listen to my legs instead of my head, I would run faster and farther….
Proudest running moment: running my first marathon in 2010 while my daughter was going through chemotherapy for her kidney disease was a huge physical and mental achievement for me.
Favorite body part: my thighs. I used to hate them: all fat, huge, giggly, with cellulite. Now they are toned, strong, and can carry me anywhere and as far as I want them to go. They still have some cellulite, but that’s ok.
Proudest running moment: finishing a half-marathon at the end of a 70.3 triathlon.
Favorite body part: my eyes, because they never change.
Proudest running moment: going sub two-hours in half-marathon in April 2011.
Favorite body part: my legs for sure. They’re strong and lean.
Proudest running moment: crossing the finish line at first mud run with 18-year-old son. Completely unassisted; no one had to carry me, as in an EMT. (Ha!)
Favorite part of body: my kids. They always make me smile, and they are a part of me.
Proudest running moment: finishing a hateful 11 mile training run in preparation for my first half-marathon.
Favorite body part: my butt. When I lost weight after pregnancy and while nursing, my behind was pancake flat. Running has made me curvy and strong again.
Proudest running moment: finishing my first 100-mile race with my family and my BRFs by my side.
[Editor’s note: forgot to ask her what her favorite body part is. Dang it.]
Proudest running moment: when I qualified for Boston at my very first marathon at age 48.
Favorite body part: Love my legs because they continue to carry me through long runs and over hill and dale.
Proudest running moment: finishing the Twin Cities Marathon with friends.
Favorite body part: TBA.
Proudest running moment: with so many distractions and commitments, every single time I make it out the door for a run.
Favorite body part: My waist. I’m psyched I have one.