Have you ever had an A-Ha moment, like that light bulb not only went off, but it freaking exploded above your head? I had one! Let me set the scene for you. I was halfway through a 15 mile run with a friend of mine. It was HOT, like humid, sticky, clothes drenched, sweat pouring hot! I made the comment that it would be nice to just run in a sports bra, if only my abs were better. My friend agreed making a similar remark. It hit me, WTF, I was so afraid of someone seeing my less than perfect abs, that I was going to run in a shirt that was making me hot and very uncomfortable. I was going to allow some crazy standard that probably is mostly in my head dictate what I should wear on a run.
Let’s back up here a bit. I have very distinct memories of running through the park after having 4 kids and being passed by girls in college and high school running what appeared to be, care free in their sports bras. Abs beautifully toned and flat. No extra skin, no stretch marks, ahhhh, young abs! We all seem to have an obsession with abs lately. It’s all over social media. “Lose those love handles”, “get a six pack”, ab selfies, eating for abs, no carbs, fasted cardio, reach around skinny test (google that f’ed up test if you haven’t heard). We are OBSESSED with chiseled abs! We equate the level of fitness with the number of abdominal muscles that show.
So back to the run. After we both had commented that if we had better abs we would run in our sports bras and that bulb went off, I suggested to run in our sports bras, it would be empowering. It was too. As we ran the last of our 15 miles, we discussed our thoughts on what we were doing. We weren’t there to be oggled, honked at, cat called, or for the entertainment of anyone else. We weren’t trying to look sexy (oh believe me, our facial expressions were far from that!), we didn’t care if anyone was offended by our skin on display. It was ridiculous that fear of being judged, of looking less than perfect, was holding us back from being comfortable.
Shedding our shirts was a symbol, a symbol to embrace our bodies, to embrace who we are without fear of what others will think. To not focus on our cellulite, stretch marks, extra skin, funky belly button, whatever it is that we want to hide from the world. It’s to not let societies standard of beauty dictate how we look or dress.
When you get out there next time, run however you want. Wear that skirt, run in that sports bra, be you. You are not there to make someone else feel comfortable or excited. You are training, you are making your body strong, fit and healthy. You are working to smash your goals. Every sweaty, painful, happy, step you take. Whether you are a runner, crossfitter, yogi, dancer, zumba-er (is that a thing), whatever your goal, you be true to you, don’t let fear hold you back!