A ‘fat’ ultramarathoner wants you to know running is for everyone. Here are her 4 tips for beginners.

Mirna Valerio is an ultramarathoner who wants people to know that anyone can run.

Mirna Valerio is an ultramarathoner who runs the “Fat Girl Running” blog.She wants people to know that anyone can be a runner.Valerio gave four tips for people wanting to get into running, no matter what they look like.

Mirna Valerio is well aware that she doesn’t look like a stereotypical runner. That hasn’t stopped the founder of the “Fat Girl Running” blog from running 11 marathons and 16 ultramarathons.

Valerio, 48, started running in high school as part of field hockey training. Apart from a brief interlude when her child was young and “life got stressful,” she continued running to keep herself “fit and sane” she told Business Insider.

Valerio first gained attention as a “plus-sized runner” in 2015 when she was featured in an article about her blog.

Valerio does trail running as well as road running.

But things took a negative turn in 2017, when a clip from a documentary about her released that year went viral. It featured a hate email she’d received that accused her of trying to kill people with the idea of fat acceptance and lying about her running ability. Ironically, the email came through while she was running a 50 km race.

But far from tearing her down as the sender perhaps intended, the attention from the video spotlighting that email actually led to an influx of followers and brand partnerships.

Now, Valerio is a full time influencer and sponsored athlete. She loves that she gets to spread the message that anyone can be a runner, as long as they run, which is important because of how “wonderful” running is for “every aspect of your life,” from your mood to your physical health, she said.

“We’ve been fed this narrative that there’s a certain look to running,” she said. “And that’s what I’m out here fighting daily.”

Valerio running a six-day ultramarathon with lululemon’s “Further” campaign.

Her message is particularly pertinent at a time when running has become the latest fitness trend400,000 videos have stacked up on the more athletic side of Tiktok, #runtok, mostly in the last two years, and the majority feature slim, white runners.

Maybe it’s a hangover from habits started during COVID-19 lockdowns — data by Nielsen for World Athletics suggests that a fifth of all runners run more now than they did before the pandemic. Whatever the reason, more millennials are taking up running than previous generations — 62% of millennial Strava users uploaded runs to the app, compared to 51% of Gen X and only 29% of boomers, according to Strava’s 2023 trend report.

If starting running feels daunting, Valerio has four tips for beginners.

Valerio wants to change perceptions about who is a runner.

Forget what you think running should look like

Valerio said it doesn’t matter what you look like, “athletics is for everyone.”

“Other people will have ideas about what it means to run, how you should look, and how fast you should go. But that stuff can coexist with your curiosity and your want and need to explore running,” she said.

Try to focus on your own happiness and the joy that comes from moving your body instead, she said.

Build up your confidence

Valerio acknowledged that it’s hard to completely put aside ideas of what running “should” look like.

So get started by building up your confidence, as well as your fitness, with incrementally longer runs.

“Maybe you just go out for five minutes the first time, then 10 minutes, then 15. And then eventually you find yourself at an hour, not even thinking about all that stuff because you’re so focused on your own happiness,” she said.

Valerio during the lululemon ultramarathon.

It’s OK to be slow

Don’t worry about being slow when starting out, Valeria said.

You should be running at a “conversational pace” anyway, she said, meaning you can say a sentence or two without gasping for air.

“A lot of us start out running too fast or thinking that we have to be sprinters. But you should start at a pace that’s sustainable,” she said.

Just keep running

The main thing, Valerio said, is to go for a run. “And then do it again. Give yourself a rest day, and then go out there again,” she said. “Don’t have any expectations of yourself, just get out there.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re slow or have to take breaks, she said — “don’t ever feel bad about that. You’re giving your body a chance to reset so you can run again.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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