I mentioned a while ago that I was looking for some Ronhill Aspiration type shorts in red for the London Marathon. I want to be kitted out in colours which match the charity I am running for, Coram. I was looking for this particular type of shorts because I didn’t like the idea of the combination of flappy race cut shorts and my thighs.
This is what I mean by flappy shorts:
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the physio last week. I needed shorts because I forgot to pack any before heading to parkrun, so I popped into Sports Direct and the only ones in my size were some cheap flappy shorts. So I wore them for physio.
And, dear reader, I’m afraid to say I liked it.
I’ve always said that I don’t like my thighs. I don’t know a lot of women who do especially. But somewhere in the last month the magic running pixies appear to have replaced all but the top six inches of my thighs with someone else’s thighs. Dare I say it, they are starting to look a bit like they might be runner’s thighs…whatever that means.
Flappy shorts, as it turns out, expose the runnery looking bits and hide the top six inches which for me is where all the problems are. In the recent humid weather, they are also significantly breezier about the undercarriage, which can only be a good thing.
Anyway, when I was ‘dashing’ up and down some hills in the week wearing my new flappy shorts it struck me that honestly who really cares what my legs look like? I mean I do care a bit, because it’s nice to feel positive about an area that you’ve always hated and to have your ‘thigh line’ commented on instead of your cellulite, but to coin a phrase from Jo March it doesn’t affect the state of the nation.
In more ways than one, marathon training really shows you what you’re made of. Currently my legs are clearly made of pretty solid stuff, because regardless of niggles and injuries they carried me up and down the best hill training session I’ve done in forever earlier this week despite being tired and a bit in pain. And they looked pretty foxy while they were doing it.
I love that running can do so much for your body image in a constructive way. There are still a ton of women out there who haven’t experienced what a difference doing regular exercise can make to how you feel about your lady lumps, but with the increasing popularity of accessible events like parkrun or the Race for Life series there are definitely more women than ever donning the lycra and feeling the benefits.
Take my sister, for example.
At the start of the year, my sister and her family decided they were getting a dog. Because of this she decided to work on getting more active and fitter before the summer, when Operation Puppy Plan was due to be mobilised. I sneaked a couch to 5k in front of her and by March we were off to parkrun together for the first time.
Since then, my sister is a different woman. She’s lost a lot of weight, but that’s not the most important change. She’s completed two 10k races, doing the bulk of her training on her own, and has reduced her PB by 9 minutes in the process. She’s really stuck at the running and she’s starting to notice the improvements, as I knew she would. More importantly she’s enjoying it – I love seeing how much pleasure she gets from taking the time for herself, and also from challenging herself physically and getting stronger.
Look at these fantastic pictures from her latest 10k. Look how happy she looks, despite the fact that this race had some real beasts of hills on the route. Look at that smile which says she knows she’s killing it in her sparkly RunMummyRun tutu.
She also seems to be noticing the same thing about the effect of running on her legs, since I got a picture text this week excitedly illustrating the fact that she had noticed she was getting ‘proper leg muscles’ – that’s what happens when you stick to the programme!
And she isn’t the only one who’s noticed the changes. I got a text today from one of my besties from home to say she had seen my sister last night, that she was looking amazing and that the running suited her. I couldn’t agree more.
Learning to love your body for what it can do, or noticing improvements that are the result of hard work is very satisfying and is surely preferable to any quick fix, superficial options which seem to be pushed on us more and more as the new normal.
Cosmetic surgery used to be for the rich and famous, but its becoming depressingly more frequent to see mere muggles out and about with quite obvious enhancements. I’m not talking about where there might be a medical or psychological reason for surgery, that’s a different matter. I’m talking about surgery designed specifically to make you look better in selfies.
There’s a lady I see sometimes on my walk to work, for example, who is a stunning looking girl except for the fact that she appears to be wearing Jar Jar Binks’ lips. If it makes her happy then I suppose it’s fair enough, but it just looks unnatural and strange to me. I don’t understand why anyone would mess with their face like that.
On the subject of body image, it’s important for all of us to keep clear in our heads that the sort of ridiculous, mad surgery celebs are supposedly casually having really isn’t normal. I read a trashbag magazine article in the week which reckoned Kim Kardashian wants ‘thigh gap’ surgery (which I sincerely hope is nonsense, but then with the Kardashians just because something is nonsense doesn’t mean it’s not true). Apparently she feels that her already very striking body shape will not be perfect until she has a completely unnecessary and out of proportion gap between her upper thighs.
Come on now Kim. Seriously. Do belt up. Your knees are not supposed to be the widest point of your legs. If your legs get too thin they won’t support that magnificent bahookie and you’ll keep falling over backwards. You will look like Yosemite Sam. This would be a ridiculous state of affairs.
If it matters to you that much, leave Kanye holding the baby for a bit and get out for a run.
You can borrow my flappy shorts if you like.
11 thoughts on “Mind the Thigh Gap – Running & Body Image”
Love love love this! I spent all summer wearing capri running pants, because i was avoiding shorts. The other day I put on a pair of jean shorts because it was 95 out and my Capris were all in wash. And I liked wearing them! I even felt ok in them! More women need your mindset 😀
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It snuck up on me! I’ve only worn long jeans shorts for years, and then only if there was no alternative! Loving the liberation of the flappy shorts 😊
Love the post. I sometimes felt self conscious on runs in the past. Now, I don’t bother and just concentrate on enjoying my run.
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Thank you! Yeah – starting to care more about what you’re doing than what you look like doing it is the name of the game. Unless you’re Usain Bolt of course, he can run and look cool simultaneously!
Another great post! Love this ❤ I have had exactly the same, but kind of opposite issue. My body has changed a lot since starting to run longer distances, and at first it was hard to accept, but then I realized… Hey! At least THIS body is strong enough to do something entirely outside of my comfort zone. My previous body did the same thing every single day for 4 years without improvement. Growth and improvement. That's way more useful than a friggin' thigh gap! Be proud of your legs! They do something that most legs can't. And I think you look awesome in the flappy shorts! They look like the kind of shorts I'd easily go for 😉
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Oh, and I almost forgot.. Well done to your sister!!! She looks truly happy. That’s what running is about. The feeling!!
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Thank you – she really is a changed woman, it’s so great. And I’m really proud of her 😊
Oh and the shorts in the pic are big standard Nike ones – £15 or so. Really comfy but no pockets!
Excellent post and comments. As a dressmaker it breaks my heart when yet another lovely lady (whatever her size) asks me to camouflage her perceived problem spot(s). In over 20 years I can’t remember a client who thought she looked fine as she was. Running (and other gym effort) has taught me to be happy with what my body can do – not how it looks (although I am very happy with the changes the effort has made).
Enjoy your floppy shorts. You have an amazing body – and you have earned it 😃
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