Meet Mirna Valerio. She is a 39, 5’7, mother, choral director, spanish teacher, blogger, cross country running coach, marathoner, ultra marathoner and trail runner. She is also 250 pounds and considered as overweight. Runner’s World Magazine and NBC Nightly News featured this amazing woman who is breaking the mold on the stereotypes of what a fellow runner and athlete should look like or accomplish. For those of you who are not familiar with the term ultra runner, an ultra runner is one who runs any distance over 26.2 miles. She has completed several marathons (26.2 miles), 50k marathons (31 miles) and is currently training for a 100k marathon (62 miles). These are amazing feats to say the least.
Known as the Mirnavator, many look at her while on the pavement as a “fat girl running.” She knows this is how others may view her and she is ok with it hence the starting and naming of her blog, “Fat Girl Running.” In 2009, Mirna was 300 pounds and started having health issues. Through her doctors urging, she began to lose weight and took up running. Since then, she has lost 50 pounds and is still on her weight loss journey.
People have written articles about her wondering with the amount of running that she does, why is she still overweight? Is it possible to be fat and fit? In my opinion, I think it depends upon the individual. While I do not promote obesity, I do promote healthy living, eating and exercise. Even though people may not have any chronic illnesses or health ailments at the present moment, eat halfway decently and get some sort of exercise in, it doesn’t mean it won’t lead to other issues in the future. I will leave that for the doctors and individuals to decide.
If anything, her story has inspired thousands of people to tie up their shoelaces and hit the pavement no matter what gender, age, race or size they may currently be. Oftentimes, I get inboxes and emails from followers saying they are too embarrassed to go to the gym due to their size or they can’t run or run and walk as fast as me. I battle myself every time I decide to get out there and be one with nature. Every run isn’t a kumbaya moment nor is it the run from hell. While I consider myself a decent runner, I’m still in the process of learning. I’m not the fastest nor am I the slowest. The only reason I know is because of the races in which I enter for they are the ones who are recording everyone’s time whereas I’m only concerned about mine. I am my own competition not others who share the ground with me. Mirna admits she is not a fast runner, but the pavement doesn’t care if you are fast or slow. It’s very forgiving unlike ourselves. A 10 minute mile is the same as a 15 minute mile. A mile is just that…a mile. Your ultimate goal is to make it to the end of your run or to across that finish line.
When I first read Mirna’s story, I immediately resonated with her spirit. Running is a sport in which you don’t have to be a certain weight, have a certain look, or demonstrate a certain athletic ability in order to do it. It’s all about having the heart of a champion and the willingness to never give up during the course of your journey. Had I been concerned about what others had thought about me or what I looked like when I first started on my health and fitness journey, I would still be in the same miserable boat going nowhere and drowning in my pitiful thoughts going down like the Titanic. 9-5ks, 1-10k, 1-15k, 1 navy nautical miler, 6 half marathons and 5 states later…I’m still here living and loving a sport that gives me so much freedom.
I commend Mirna for showing a demographic of women who mirror so many of us who are committed to running, health, fitness and giving no excuses while doing it. Love yourself where you are. Find your confidence and lace up your shoes. Like Mirna, she proved one size doesn’t fit all and we all have to start somewhere. Happy Running… hope to see you soon on the pavement! Check out the link below on her story featured on NBC’s Nightly News.