The story we’re too often told about fatness and running is that body size is an obstacle to overcome in our quest for glory.
Right after I watched the trailer for the Amazon Studios film Brittany Runs a Marathon, I thought about the time I had forgotten to buy energy chews right before a 10-mile marathon training run. I walked to the grocery store in my running clothes—spandex leggings, a technical shirt with the name of my local running club on it, and New Balance 860s.
I put two packets of chews on the conveyor and started to pull some money out of my belt pack when the cashier said, “These are really good.” I told him that it took me a while to find a flavour that I liked, but that I prefer chews over gels any day. “Oh,” he said, cocking his head to the side. “Are you a runner?”
I get that a lot.
I’ve built up quite a collection of anecdotes about people who don’t believe I’m a runner at all, let alone a marathoner. Highlights include the clerk at the running store who assumed I was there to buy a gift, the trainer at my gym who stoically passed all the other people on treadmills but gave me a thumbs up, and the volunteer at packet pickup who gave me detailed instructions on how to pin my bib.
As annoying as these interactions are, I can’t really blame anyone for the oversight. Movies like Brittany Runs a Marathon keep telling the same story about what it’s like to be a fat runner: temporary.