I've always wanted to be a runner who could run shirtless. I used to tell myself, "One day, when I'm fit enough, that will be me." My primary reason for setting this goal is that running in Florida is hot and every layer makes a difference. You wouldn't think shedding one thin, breathable layer would make much difference, but it really does. My primary reason for putting the goal off? I didn't think I looked fit enough to "deserve" to run shirtless.
Running shirtless is a topic we see a lot in summer, and a couple awesome women in the Sub 30 women's sub-group decided to host a virtual event that encouraged the ladies in our group to celebrate freedom from the shirt on the 4th of July. Men don't think twice about whipping off their shirts when it's hot out; why should we?
When this event was first announced, I decided that if I kept waiting for "one day", I'd never really feel ready. So I decided to run shirtless before I felt ready (fake it 'til you make it, right?), and since that first run I've found it easier to make it a habit. I've felt lighter, cooler, and weirdly...more free.
|Real bodies; real women MOVE.|
It's been really amazing to see so many strong women with a multitude of athletic accomplishments under their belts shed their shirts and embrace their bodies. I honestly can't tell you how inspired and motivated it has made me. The strength and support of other women in this movement helped me stomp that naysaying voice into submission.
The thing that stops many of us from running shirtless is that we don't think we look good enough to pull it off. Well, who cares if you don't look "good enough"? What standards are we even using to measure what good enough means?
I'm sick of being uncomfortable when I run because of some self-created fear that people might judge me. If they don't like it, they don't have to look! My body doesn't exist for the eyes of others; it doesn't exist for their pleasure. It's a strong body that has gotten me through dozens of 5ks and 10ks, 10 half marathons, and three marathons. It supported me through Ragnar. It allows me to get up and go to work and live my life.
Looking at the women who participated in this event, it drives home the point that insecurities are rarely about what we actually look like. I don't understand why any of these women are self-conscious because I think they all look great. As they posted their photos, every comment confirmed what I felt: "You look awesome!" "You look confident!" "You look strong!" The stories accompanying the photos were full of self-realization and empowerment.
I remembered that the flaws we see in ourselves are rarely visible to others.
You wouldn't think running shirtless would be as freeing as it turned out to be...But it is. I've wasted a lot of time hoping to someday be "fit enough" to run shirtless, and now I know that when I say women of any fitness level deserve to wear whatever they want, it applies to me, too.
I talk a lot about body acceptance and appreciating your body for what it's capable of. I need to work harder to apply that thinking to myself. Why not? For all I know, maybe people see me running shirtless and think, "If only I had that confidence."
Somedays I still feel weird about running without a shirt. I know each summer, after winter running dictates I need a shirt due to weather, this will be a renewed battle. But I also know that this kind of confidence (even if I'm faking it sometimes) is contagious, because Elizabeth has followed suit and run shirtless with me a couple times now, and that makes the discomfort worth it...because I want all women to feel comfortable enough to run shirtless whenever they want!
If my step forward helps others get there, then that's a good thing for everyone. And I couldn't have done it without the community of women who encouraged each other to rock our bodies. Thank you for joining in and inspiring each other, ladies! And a special thanks to the women who were willing to let me share their pictures today: Meaghan, Tory, Tina, Dianne, Cathy, Candace, Patricia, Meagan, Kim, Nancy, Tovah, Kirsten, Chelsea, Steph, Honore, and Kara!
Whether you feel ready or not, taking a step outside your comfort zone is how we grow...and how we grow stronger. I'm glad I've stopped waiting for "one day" and am learning to be comfortable in my skin sooner rather than later.
Do you run without a shirt on?
What's a risk you want to take but don't feel ready to?
When's the last time you left your comfort zone?