The email I sent to Running Times today

Dear JD–

I have always looked forward to reading your “Shoe Guy” article in
Running Times, so much so that I turned to that page before looking at
any other content the magazine had to offer—until today. I read with
particular interest how you planned to help a non-conventional body
style (the Biker guy) get the right shoe. I praised your
understanding and efforts to show him that there WAS indeed a right
shoe for him. Then you went and called him, and all of us 200 lb and
higher runners, Jabba the Hut. Wow! Kicked in the gut for weighing
more than you think we should. Was that really necessary? Sure, I am
confident all the many 160 pound runners nodded their heads in
agreement–perhaps even shared in a chuckle. But have you not seen
that there are many runners who are running to lose weight, to improve
their bodies, and to enjoy this wonderful sport? Do they ALL look
like Ryan Hall? No. That you would refer to anyone weighing more
than 200 pounds a Jabba the Hut disappoints and saddens me. I’ve lost
15 pounds in the last 10 weeks. I’m still 215 pounds. What I and
many of my fellow heavy runners need is encouragement and
understanding, and inclusion. Please don’t ridicule us more than we
ridicule ourselves each day…

I know a 300-pound guy who wants to lose weight and get healthier for
his daughter, to see her grow old. His goal is to run a 5k and is
being coached by an Ultra-marathoner. He inspires me, excites me about
our sport, and I wish to see him complete that 5K and lose his weight.
I will cheer him and share a tear when he does. I wonder how he would
feel to be called Jabba the Hut?

I’ll miss your columns and your wisdom. I’ll miss Running Times. (I
liked the magazine so much that I’d drive 14 miles to the local
bookstore and buy it faithfully each month) Then I subscribed to what
was supplanting Runners World as my favorite running mag. Your mag
wasn’t filled with fluff or articles that seemed to repeat themselves
every so often. You guys understood “real” running in a more serious
way, I thought.

That is, until today, when I canceled my brand new subscription to a
magazine that I thought understood runners–all runners, not just the
skinny ones.

Sincerely,

Gordon Harvey

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5 Comments

  1. I've got a great story… ok, maybe not that great… but still.

    There was a runner that everyone in rush hour traffic would see down one of the main avenues in Chapel Hill. To say the least, he was almost morbidly obese (when he started). I know this story from a friend of mine, by the way.

    So yeah, everyone would see him running down the greenway dividing the avenue. Every single day. At the same time. If you chose a place to run with the most viewers… he picked it. My friend saw him from the beginning… and then gradually saw this guy slimmer and slimmer and he gained great respect for him until my friend decided to stop and talk with him.

    The guy is a doctor. He gave advice on a daily basis to patients on how to be healthier but suddenly realized that he wasn't walking the talk. He decided to be drastic about it, put himself out there, shame himself, which funnily enough became his motivation. Like a “i'll show these guys” kind of thing.

    I love the story. I would like to believe a lot of people saw his progress and would have gone from “HAHA, you fatso” (oh, you know they say it) to “wow, look at him now”… while realizing that he did it with guts and determination.

    Seriously, I know my legs wobble (from the fat) when I run. I constantly see slim, fast runners smile at me when they run by. I have no idea what they think and I really don't care. I am me, and I'm doing the best I can.

    You are wonderful and seriously, you are one of the most inspirational stories out there. I don't cry when I read blogs but you were the first. I wish that it would be recognized in a much broader sense… just generally… you know? You know you are getting better, and you'll always have us to tell you that you rock when stupid articles like these try to tell you otherwise.

    xxxxx

    Lu

  2. Interesting to see if they (Running Times and Runners World) take this opportunity to take an honest look at what message they are sending it subscribers. Again, great job on voicing an opinion that many have muttered in silence.

  3. I HATE that this is an issue. I just wanted to add my two cents.

    I look like your 'typical' Running Times runner: skinny legs; 5'6″ & 125lbs. When I see someone considered to be larger than your 'average' runner, I honestly feel nothing but awe and am humbled by runners considered overweight cuz I KNOW how tough it is to step out that front door, let alone to do so carrying any extra weight and with the feeling everyone is evaluating them. I think to myself “you get 'em” and send some positive energy and hope with all my heart they keep at it and will never let moronic descriptions or comments deter them.

    There are a lot more people out there who share these feelings than you would think. Real runners love to see anyone running: anyone. Real runners don't care about shape, weight, attire – we want everyone to get out there and get some of what we know makes us better people when we're not out there.

    Just sayin…

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