What does a runner look like?

‘You look like a runner’

Said someone to me when I mentioned how much I’d enjoyed taking part in the Race for Life recently.

Well of course I took this as a compliment because, although not a serious runner by many standards, it is something I enjoy.

It was a light-hearted comment from a friend, I’m sure meant as a way of providing further encouragement.

Later I thought a little more; I wonder if perhaps I also automatically took the comment positively because a large proportion of the media would have us believe that this is what a runner looks like:


To clarify I do not look like this, especially not when I’m running. My cheeks tend to take on a more beetroot hue for a start.

At the time the comment was made I was not running, but looking after my two children, and wearing my usual jeans and casual top.

What if someone had said I look like a Mum? Well in the context of playing with my children at the park I would assume it was a fairly factual statement of observation.

But what if such a comment was received when dressed up to go out for a nice dinner. I might assume I’d made a bad job of hiding circles under my eyes, or errrmm removing the green face paint.

I was a tiger apparently. It had green stripes and glitter spots.


Interestingly I’m not sure that ‘looking like a Mum’ would always be taken positively. This is probably a whole blog post in itself, but in reality the appearance of a Mum has no bearing on parenting ability.

And so it should really be the same for a runner, outside of the arena of elite athletics, a particular physique, does not equate to the enthusiasm or ability of a runner.

I might hope that whilst out for a run I do in fact look like a runner (as well as a beetroot perhaps). As would anyone else out for a jog with a pair of trainers.

Pottering around soft play or covered in green face paint I assume I look more like a Mum (or a green tiger I suppose).

The context gives a way a bit about a person, but body shape and physique are not usually a successful way of making assumptions about health. A point I have made previously when writing about ‘The Dad Bod’ 

So it was with delight that I heard about Women’s Running magazine. The front cover this month featured a gorgeous plus-size model running. You can also see photos of her here and here.

There are many people who run with a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. They are all runners.

Some might start running with the hope of loosing weight. It certainly can be a successful way of burning calories which may lead to weight loss. However, physical activity has many benefits over and above loosing weight, including benefits to emotional and mental wellbeing.

Everyone should be encouraged to be active, and I believe this front cover of the Women’s Running magazine, is likely to inspire more women to run.

Regardless or size, shape, speed or clothing choice, if you go out for a run you are going to look like, but more importantly, actually be a runner.  


If you would like to start running the couch to 5k plan is a great way to get started. 

30 Second Summary: A runner is anyone who goes out for a run. Physique does not determine a runner’s ability or enthusiasm (Excluding elite athletes)

What do you think? Do you think the cover of the Women’s running magazine is providing a positive message or promoting an unhealthy body mass index?

Fitness Friday

8 thoughts on “What does a runner look like?

  1. Helena August 4, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    Runners certainly come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s definitely the getting out there and doing it that counts!

    I’m dreaming (I hope it will come true) that I’ll get a few runs in while I’m in France soon. What shape I’ll be in after the saucisson and baguettes I dread to think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare August 4, 2015 / 10:12 pm

      Ooh sounds lovely; the running, trip away and the baguettes!! We went to France a couple of months ago and it was such a lovely holiday, filled with delicious food and the hilliest run I’ve ever tackled! Hope you have a lovely time. X


  2. DrJuliet August 6, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    As you say, the benefits of exercise are so much more than weight control. To be honest, once you find something you enjoy any weight loss is just a side effect of the exercise rather than the reason to do it. If we can all find something active we love to do then the rest falls into place. We shouldn’t forget either that there are those who struggle to gain weight and feel self conscious because they’re underweight. We need to love ourselves and eat well and exercise because it makes us feel good, whatever shape and size we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare August 18, 2015 / 7:10 pm

      Absolutely! In fact I wish I’d written your last sentence in particular. How we feel is so much more important than how we look.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Elle @ keep it simpElle August 15, 2015 / 9:25 am

    Reminds me of the quote “if you have a body, you are an athlete”. I don’t really know how I feel about the whole “looking like a runner” conversation. I think its a bit deeper than looks. Plus, I mean, there are different types of run, and therefore different types of runner! hmmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare August 22, 2015 / 3:23 pm

      Love that quote and think it could be equally applied to running. If you go for a run you are a runner… Looks, speed, style just shouldn’t matter!


  4. Mummy Melton (@MummyMelton) August 27, 2015 / 6:36 pm

    I agree, if you run you’re a runner – if you swim, you’re a swimmer. It doesn’t matter what you look like. The Friends episode where Phoebe & Rachel go running kind of always makes me laugh, so what if you a re a Phoebe runner – you’re still running even if others might think you look daft. Thanks for linking up with this week’s #FitnessFriday

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare August 29, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Thanks! Absolutely, think it’s great just to enjoy whatever your doing and not worry about appearance or anyone else’s views.


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