Elite runner, Sasha Gollish, is the only distance runner I follow.
When, where and how she crossed my cyber path, I can’t recall. I certainly was not searching for anything or anybody related to running beyond 200 metres. However it happened, and ever since, the Canadian pro runner has impressed me with her athletic achievements and work with girls in sport.
Like me, Sasha’s a mature athlete. While we compete in polar opposite races (50-200m for me; 1500m+ for her), I appreciate aspects of her experience and, respect her sense of responsibility as an athlete.
In her recent blog post – Real Talk Reflections With Myself On Body Image – Sasha steps up and opens up with thoughts about her current body image, as a 36 year-old woman in marathon training with young girls looking on.
It’s one of those posts that as writers, we often second-guess sending into the world. I can’t say for sure what Sasha’s process of composing and publishing this post was like, but I know it’s not easy to put something like this out there:
I’m struggling these days to accept how I look. I do not like how skinny I am. I do not want other young runners to look at me and say to themselves ‘to be fast I need to look like her.’ (And to be honest, I do not think many people do that.) I’m not looking for a pity-party, don’t feel sorry for me, but also do not judge me for openly talking about this.
I also know it’s important.
I can only imagine how real this topic is in the distance running community – for girls and women alike. And I don’t have to imagine the unease inherent in awareness of onlookers judging your race season or off-season physique. I’ve been there. I’m there now.
I’m twenty pounds lighter than I was at this time last year. Throughout last fall, winter and spring my weight decreased slowly and steadily with training. Then when the outdoor race season hit, my weight and dress size plummeted.
I like the way I look, feel and perform right now. I feel like my authentic self in a strong, healthy body that suits my personal and athletic goals without being a stress to maintain. Being smaller for the sake of being smaller was never a goal.
In fact, I fear that any smaller, I risk losing cred in the ‘strong not skinny’ fitspo space. When I encourage a woman with a heavier, rounder or more muscular body to explore yoga, running or power-lifting, I don’t want it met with a skeptical ‘ya but’, based on my body.
So there you have it. We all have a perspectives to share and learn from. As athletes, we have our own vulnerabilities but also positions of leadership from which to speak.
Thanks for using yours so powerfully, Sasha!
To learn more about Sasha Gollish, visit her website.