The Day I Saw Myself as a True Runner

Robin A Henderson
4 min readSep 15, 2021
Photo by Fotorech on Pixaby

My dad inspires me more than he knows.

I grew up in a household that worshiped the sport of track and field. I remember watching Olympic track and field qualifying events with my parents. From the fiery, flashy Flo Jo to the sophisticated and quick Michael Johnson, track and field athletes were treated like gods in my house.

My father loved the sport so much he became a runner in his thirties.

He’s now in his seventies and still runs. Over the years, my dad has run and competed more times than I can count. A few years ago, he competed in the National Senior Olympics, winning gold and silver medals.

My parents taught my sister and me the benefits of being active, so I looked for ways to move my body. Over the years, I’ve worked out with Jillian Michaels, Shaun T, and Tony Horton. Running, however, never crossed my mind.

Sometimes you need to see yourself in something before you know it’s possible.

I didn’t think running was for me.

While Johnson inspired my dad, there wasn’t anyone who looked like me hitting the pavement. I’ve always carried a few extra pounds. Pounds that, no matter how hard I worked, never seemed to go away.

Runners are lean, mean, athletic machines.

There’s nothing lean or cut about my body. It jiggles in places I wish it didn’t and has refused to budge in areas I hope it would.

I didn’t see any women who looked like me running. I thought running was for skinny white women; at least, that’s what the wellness world wanted me to believe.

That all changed when I discovered Mirna Valerio.

Valerio is a Shero to all women.

“Let’s give people permission.” — Mirna Valerio.

Valerio is a plus-size runner who is a champion for body positivity in the running community. As of August this year, she has completed eleven marathons and fourteen ultramarathons.

She is best known for starting the blog “Fat Girl Running.” Valerio is changing the stereotype of what constitutes a runner. She is inspiring a…

Robin A Henderson

I write about inclusive storytelling in Hollywood and diverse representation in wellness.