Am I an Unexpected Runner?

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“You’re running?!”

Someone said this to me at a charity 5k this weekend. 5k is 3.1 miles, so this is not a far distance at all.

I work as a dog walker, and spent about 4-5 hours per day on my feet, walking dogs, parking a car and getting in and out of it. People in different circles of my life know different things about … but the people expressing shock that I was running 3 miles knew this.

I wear a size 6 or 8 and I’m 5’5″. I’m definitely not thin, but I’m not overweight either. I’m in my early 30s.

When I run in my neighborhood, people sometimes encourage me, pretend they’ll run with me, cheer me on… I think it’s sweet. Most of the people who do this are black men. I live in a city that is about 50/50 white and black, and in a neighborhood where the vast majority of my neighbors are black. I would say I have a body type that black men tend to like.

I took this to be the reason for the attention. It’s never been harassment. Now I start to think – are people commenting because they are shocked to see a not-super-thin person running? I was overweight as a child and it really, really offends me to think this. I’ve had issues with food and body image, I’ve lost a lot of weight, and it makes me extremely sad not only to realize not only a) it’s not enough and b) something I took as a compliment is actually a negative evaluation of me.

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