Runner gams & thunder thighs… oh my!

I try to keep my thoughts on body image out of my posts as much as possible. It’s an uncomfortable subject and it’s bad enough that I’m sharing my life weekly with complete strangers- let alone how I feel on a topic as awkward and personal as this one. As much as we all want to stand on our soapbox and demand that we love our bodies for what they look like, the truth is that I’m sure most of us go right home and instead stand in front of the mirror and criticize. Who doesn’t constantly play out that scene from Mean Girls in their bedroom?

Anyway, it’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersing myself in so many fitness blogs and running magazines. I feel like all I see are images of women wearing a sports bra and gym shorts, with their hair pulled back in a sleek ponytail showing off their flat stomach and thin legs. I’d give anything to look like them when I’m working out. Too bad I look anything but. 


Just in case you thought I dyed my hair blonde don’t worry- that’s NOT me.

It also may be front of mind due to a recent trip to try on a certain white dress for a certain upcoming major life event. On the ride there my mom and I joked about how the dress would be falling off since I had been measured for it last spring. I envisioned it sliding over me, hugging me in all the right places, and all my hard work for the past year and a half showing for itself in the floor length mirror. As the consultant began to dress me I closed my eyes, lifted my arms over my head, and waited to feel perfection. What I felt was… tugging. I opened my eyes to see the dress stuck around the middle of my body. I turned red with embarrassment. For a girl who weighs herself daily, I was in shock.  “I haven’t gained weight. I know I haven’t gained weight. There’s NO WAY I’ve gained weight” I said as she tugged and pulled. The consultant agreed to take my measurements again, perhaps the dress had been ordered wrong. I nervously paced around the room waiting for the comparison. She came back to confirm that yes I had been measured correctly the first time and… have I been running by any chance? Turns out all this training, running, triathlon-ing, and general badass-ing I’ve been doing has created some serious muscle in my dear old thunder thighs. I wanted to scream. I was mortified that this was happening. I felt cheated. I’ve been doing the “right” thing all this time-how could it be affecting me in the total wrong way?

As we waited for a seamstress to come in to assess the situation I began to draft a text in my head to my trainer telling her to stop my half marathon training plan. I imagined a summer next year without swimming, biking, or running. I tried to think of how I could keep the weight off without building any additional muscle. I cursed every squat I’ve ever done.


Damn you legs!

The first words out of the seamstress’s mouth when she walked in the room were “ I can spot the body of a runner right away!” And suddenly the defeat and embarrassment I felt began to melt away. Suddenly I felt a little bit of pride. I’ve waited for so long to hear those words. I sweated through 60 miserable pounds of fat to hear those words. I have worked SO damn hard to hear those words. I’ve earned every muscle and curve on my body, even if they come with some imperfections.


My thoughts on T-Day weren’t “OMG I’m standing in a crowd of people in a two piece bathing suit.” They were more like “OMG how am I going to not drown and purely rock this triathlon”.

It’s so easy to get caught up on what the ideal body is supposed to look like, to confuse the difference between “healthy” and “skinny”. It’s also pretty easy to assume that once someone loses weight that person should automatically be eliminated from playing the “I hate my legs/thighs/arms/stomach” game. But the truth is that as hard as it is to lose the weight, it’s just as hard to fully accept the “un-perfect-perfect” body. I still look at my friends who wear cute little running shorts with envy. I still people watch and think “That girl is so perfect and I bet she doesn’t work half as hard as I do”. But you know what? I bet that same girl looks at someone else and thinks the same thing.

And while it’s disappointing that my legs will never be mistaken for hot dogs, I’d rather that than have rolls on my body in pictures.  I’ve worked incredibly hard for these legs and for what I put them through on a daily basis- I guess they’re not so bad after all. I’m still learning to accept my body more for what it does than how it appears to me in a mirror. I’m so incredibly lucky to have the supports that I do to help me see that being strong and healthy doesn’t have a specific shape, and it doesn’t mean you have to fit into a certain pant size. They constantly remind me of the more important ways to measure these things.

photo (1)

Being healthy. Being a badass.

In case you’re wondering how the rest of that day turned out- the seamstress’s exact words to me were “Don’t ever stop running” (As luck would have it she is also a runner and knew where I was coming from). So the good news is that half marathon training can continue. And we’re going to start my alterations early. Let’s cross out fingers that my dress and those damn thunder thighs find a way to coexist peacefully. 🙂


About Kathleen

When your legs get tired run with your heart.

Posted on September 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I love this post! So relatable! You and you’re legs are awesome.

  2. Love this post! When I’m struggling on a run, my mantra that I repeat is “Thun-der thighs! Thun-der thighs!” Because without them, I wouldn’t get nearly as far.

  3. Love it! There is always a huge difference between my mental image (super duper athlete) and the thunder thighs that appear in my run photos…

  4. I really really loved this post. My father called me thunder thighs as a joke growing up (I had a habit of running up and down the stairs and making a lot of noise) and it was something I have never really been able to get over. I have continually struggled trying to find pants that fit and didn’t make me feel self conscious, but your positive post has made me realize that we all struggle with something that we wish we could change, and you should rock the body you have and be proud of it.

    • I feel like it’s so easy to let the negative images be what stick out most in our heads and really it should be our accomplishments that we let the world see! (Easier said than done- but baby steps 🙂 )

  5. You should be proud of what you’ve done and continue to do. I often wonder if there’s a women on the planet who doesn’t want to change at least one thing about her body…

    I feel that way about my arms sometimes. When cool weather comes around, I can get depressed trying on sweaters that fit well – except that they were made for little stick arms and mine are stuffed in like sausages. I have just learned to try on a lot of sweaters 🙂

    • It just means you have raging muscles to be proud of 🙂 And I’m pretty sure that even Barbie had something to complain about (I mean those feet had some pretty high arches from what I can remember!)

  6. You’ve come a LONG way and your body has allowed you to do amazing things 🙂

    • I know – I think of what my legs looked like 2 years ago compared to what they look like (and can do now) and I realize transformation is a pretty incredible thing 🙂

  7. Be proud of those legs! And take it from me: don’t stop running just for your wedding. I had to stop because of all the stressful little things I had to do at the end, and it took me forever to get back into it (I also may have gained like 5 pounds on my 2 week honeymoon!). Run as much as you can, they’ll make sure the dress fits you no matter what happens! And speaking of the dress, I want to see pictures!

    • Ugh I hear you! I keep hearing of cool races this time next year that I want to put on my list and then realize I might be a LITTLE preoccupied! But I will without a doubt continue running & training all summer – there’s already a running joke (slash – I’m dead serious) that we will do a bridal bootcamp the morning of my wedding. I mean really, when do you feel any better about yourself than after a good workout?! And trust me- there will be a MILLION pictures of that dress! 🙂

  8. If I could reach through my computer and slap you, I would for typing this sentence: “And while it’s disappointing that my legs will never be mistaken for hot dogs…” 😉
    Who in the hell wants hot dog legs!?! Shapeless and lacking curves and definition?! Not me!
    60 pounds is INCREDIBLE. INCREDIBLE!

  1. Pingback: Endings & Beginnings. | The Half Ass Bad Ass

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