After recent success at the Nights of the 10,000m PB’s and writing the Fast Running weekend round-up, Hannah Irwin’s latest #Fast10 is about being comfortable in your own skin.

It can be so hard to convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter what we look like, that at times we become fixated on what we feel we should look like. As runners, it seems to be drilled into people’s minds that we should look a certain way.

This tends to be as slim as possible, super lean, and with barely any bulk. Just because a few fast runners look this way, doesn’t mean we all should. 

There is this false image of the ‘ideal runner’s body’ that is constantly being reinforced throughout society. This is the body type that many believe all runners should have. But why is this?

This ideal body type doesn’t exist, and this is something we all need to realise and support each other in the belief of! I have learnt to realise that it doesn’t matter what I look like, or what I feel I should look like; what really matters is how I feel and how I perform using the body I have been given. I should be able to feel confident in my own skin. 

Who says so?

Who’s to say our body should look a certain way because of what we do? A doctor isn’t expected to look a certain way because they are a doctor, so why should we as runner be expected to look a certain way just because we are runners? The skewed view that suggests all runners should be super lean and skinny, needs to be forgotten. We are all different, and and all our bodies are different. There is no right or wrong way to look. 

Unfortunately, for a long time, I didn’t believe this. I was so sure that in order to be a successful runner I needed to be as light as possible. I massively lacked confidence in my own skin that I was always trying to look like somebody else, somebody that wasn’t me.

As a result, my focus went away from performing to the best of my ability, to striving to achieve this body shape that wasn’t me. Consequently, my performance went downhill. I was starving myself in order to have no fat, no muscle, no anything on my body, because this is what I believed would predominantly lead to a successful athlete. But, I was wrong. 

Caught up in this false belief.

There is no set figure that will help us achieve our goals and dreams, only hard, healthy work. The body that I believe will help me achieve my ambitions is the body that is happy, healthy, but most importantly, the body that is me! A healthy body is the strongest and most successful body, and this looks different on everyone. 

Looking back on it, I wonder where the lack of confidence came from and what reinforced this. And how I, someone with a naturally strong, petite figure, came to hate the body I was in. I truly believe it resonates with the misconstrued idea of how us runners are told we should look. 

It is so important that we don’t listen to what other people have to say about our bodies.

Be confident in your own skin.

When people throw meaningless comments are such as your thighs are too muscly and the backs of your legs bulge, it can be interpreted in a negative way, but who is to say these are bad things? People may insinuate they are bad and unattractive, but personally, I think these things should be taken as a compliment, even if they aren’t intended as one.

Muscly thighs equal strong legs, which means less injury, which contributes to a faster you, and this ultimately builds a happy, healthy, body confident individual.

As soon as I stopped listening to the voices of those who didn’t truly know about running as a sport and didn’t know that you actually need to be strong and healthy to perform well, I started seeing positive changes, both mentally and physically.

I am no longer preoccupied with the way I look, nor do I care what people may think of the way my body looks. I run hard, eat well, ensure I’m healthy, and whatever my body looks like as a result of this, is my ‘ideal runner’s body’. 

Confidence is happiness. 

Body confidence is happiness in my own skin, it doesn’t come in a certain shape or size, it is how I feel as an individual.

So, I ask myself again, what does an ideal runner’s body look like? And the answer I believe to be true is, no runner is supposed to look a certain way, the ‘ideal runner’s body’ looks like you!

Hannah Irwin features in the ‘Fast 10: class of 2019’ and over the course of the year will share her running journey. You can follow Hannah on Instagram, while further information about the ‘class of 2019’ can be found here.

Are you a fan of Fast Running? Then please support us. For as little as the price of a monthly magazine you can support Fast Running – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.