Running a Path of Joy and Resistance
I race along sandy beaches, city streets, and mountain paths, encountering many reactions. At 5’0’’ and 282 pounds, I gather attention when I run down the Appalachian Trail.
I’m training for the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon. It’s taking place in Anaheim, California, on Jan. 29. I’m excited about running my first half-marathon. Preparations have been fun and challenging as I increase my endurance and cardiovascular strength. I’m using the experience to raise money for Friends of Animals, and you can help sponsor me at crowdrise.com/RobinRavenRunning.
And I love my short, fat body. It’s not what I’m told typically springs to mind when most people imagine a committed athlete. Yet you don’t have to be thin to run a marathon, just as you don’t have to be thin when moving to an ethical diet.
I’ve actually had someone say, while looking me over, “But I thought vegetarians were supposed to be skinny.” Contrary to popular belief, going vegan does not magically make one thin. People are meant to be a wide variety of shapes and sizes; all are, in my opinion, equally beautiful.
If you’re open-minded enough to believe in the consideration of rights of all persons, human and other, accepting the diversity of Homo sapiens’ body types should come easily. And becoming skinny should not be a selling point of veganism. Not all vegans are thin.
Staring down the face of many widely held yet mistaken beliefs regarding the correlation between weight, running, and health, I get shocked by how many otherwise accepting people have bought into the constant message from the billion-dollar weight loss industry that thin and only thin is healthy. A weight-hate industry is built with the tearing down of self-esteem. The message is ingrained in society: in books, movies, magazines, even in serious news shows.
But the correlation between health risks and weight is not as concrete as the media would have us believe. A thin person who eats unhealthful food incurs more risk than an overweight person who eats healthily. Various factors contribute to our body size, including metabolism, genetics, and personal situations. You can’t look at someone and tell how healthy they are.
One challenge definitely confronts the plus-size runner, however: more weight often means training harder. My muscles, heart strength, and endurance need to be stronger to do the same amount of running as those of average weight. This means a lot of dedicated running each week!
I’m committed to next year’s marathon for a number of reasons. I seek to maintain my health. It’s important to exercise, just as it’s important to be vegan. Regular exercise is important for your health, just as veganism is important if you respect other earthlings.
One motivation is dear to my heart: my love of animals and my respect for the work of Friends of Animals. I was once the human companion of an amazing dog named Marta, and I strive to help animals every day in her memory. I also aim to spread the message of veganism to others who may not have heard the message.
One thing I know for sure is that we should treat one another with respect, no matter what our differences, and I hope to do a small part in spreading the word along as I go. So the next time you see an anti-fat vegan ad or one that attempts to reduce your self-esteem down to a single number on a scale, please think of me, running down rocky paths on steep Tennessee trails with a BMI of 55.