not your average runner

Run in My Shoes continues with Jill Angie, founder of Not Your Average Runner. Jill, 53 years old, is a strong advocate for larger bodied runners and lives in Princeton, NJ. A short profile complements the AMR Friday Podcast, which features the profiled runner as a guest.

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Jill’s running origin story: I started running in 1996 as a way to lose weight. It didn’t work, but I fell in love with running along the way because it gave me self-confidence and self-esteem.

Favorite place to run: The Schuylkill River Trail outside of Philly. It’s shady, paved, and really pretty. I also love running by the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount park. Philly has some great places to run!

Favorite workout: As far as running workouts, my favorite is any easy hour-long run on a quiet trail. Outside of running, I’m addicted to strength training right now; I’m working on being able to deadlift my own body weight, It’s really fun watching myself get stronger and stronger every week.

Favorite piece of running gear: Running skirts! They’re comfortable and fun and it kinda feels like I’m getting dressed up to run. My favorite is the Jaguar skirt from SkirtSports.

Not Your Average Runner origin story: In 2013, I realized there was not a lot of support for larger-bodied runners. I was already certified as a personal trainer and helping some of my clients with their running.

At a boot camp class with a few friends, I asked them if they would ever read a book written for plus-size runners. They all said yes, so I thought “OK, I need to write that book”! So I did. It’s called Not Your Average Runner, Why You’re Not Too Fat to Run and the Skinny on How to Start Today. After it was published, I got lots of emails from readers who wanted to know how to work with me and the business bloomed from there!

Speed bumps in the road: At 250 pounds, I’m not as fast as the ‘typical’ runner. My pace hovers around a 15-16 minute mile on most days. As a result, I have to be aware of cutoff times at races to ensure I’ll be able to complete the race before finish lines are taken down. It’s usually not an issue but it’s always something I have to be aware of.

It’s also a little harder to find cute running gear that fits. There are a few retailers that have gotten on board with offering extended sizing but the industry has a long way to go. I’d love to see brick and mortar running stores carry an inclusive range of sizes.

Emphatic education: I personally don’t have any hurdles because of my size because I’ve (emphatically) educated the people in my life and my community that body size doesn’t make you more or less of a runner and that pace is just a number. That being said, many of my clients have experienced comments from friends or coworkers that have been less than supportive.

I hope your day is as nice as my butt: I’m definitely having a love affair with my butt lately. I’ve been diving hard into strength training and it’s getting so strong and round I just can’t stop looking at it, LOL. The shirt of mine that gets the most comments, though, is ‘Does running out of f*&ks count as cardio’?

Updating the definition of a runner: The running community is getting better at including larger-bodied runners but still has a long way to go. When I went to RRCA coach training, for example, there were no other larger students in the class and all of the training information was geared towards runners who run 10 minutes per mile or faster.

I would run/walk 1,000 miles: At the training, there was also no mention of using a run/walk approach as anything other than a way to start running. It was never presented as a way to be a runner in the long term. Not everybody has the intention of getting faster or to run without walk breaks.

Don’t assume, part I: that everyone who is larger-bodied is a beginner. I’ve been a runner for 25 years but there’s always someone who asks me at the start of a half marathon if this is my first race.

Don’t assume, part II: There seems to be this impression that anyone who starts running is doing it either for weight loss or with the intention of getting faster or to run without walk breaks. There are so many other reasons to run that have nothing to do with those things. But that seems to be lost in the running community right now. I’m working hard to change that.