I’m a normal person. I think I’m an example that, even though I’m not an elite athlete at all, that you can still love this sport, and be just as dedicated, and just as much of a running nerd as an elite athlete. It might sound silly to some, and it might sound offensive to some that are elites, but when I think of someone like Molly Huddle or Shalane Flanagan, I don’t think that they are any more in love with the sport of running that I am—they just come at it from a very different angle than I do. And I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other. I think that the sport of running needs all types of people.
Super excited to welcome Dorothy Beal to the podcast this week. Dorothy is not an elite athlete but she’s a runner who is making an impact—and a living—through the sport by sharing her stories with tens of thousands of runners via social media and the internet, by partnering with various brands in the space, and speaking at events around the country. The 35-time marathoner and mom of three has over 115,000 combined followers on Instagram, including almost 65K on her personal account (which is more than many of the sport’s top athletes, save a handful), and has appeared on two magazine covers in recent years. In 2009 she launched the blog, Mile-Posts, which she started as a way to keep in touch with friends after she stopped working as a tech rep and product line manager in the running industry, and eventually gained a widespread following that led to recognition by a number of different media outlets as a “must-read” in the health and fitness space.
Through her writing and the content she posts to her various social channels, Beal shares the challenges and triumphs she experiences as a runner, as a mom, and as a woman. In 2016 she created #irunthisbody and #ihavearunnersbody, two virtual movements that celebrate positive body image and encourage inclusiveness amongst runners of all shapes and sizes. “Any person that runs has a runner’s body,” Beal explained to me. “I want everyone to feel welcome in the running community. And I think the world would be a better, happier place if everybody ran and so I think the first step in my eyes is to encourage people to embrace who they are and to not fall into the same traps that I fell into of thinking that you’re worth as a runner is defined by either your times and how much you weigh.”
In this episode, Beal and I discuss why she got into running, how her blog came to be and eventually evolved into a business, why elites are an important part of the running community, and what’s exciting her about the competitive side of the sport today. We also talk about the impact of her work and why she thinks it’s resonated with so many runners, the goals that she still has for herself—including qualifying for the Boston Marathon again—why she was hesitant to join Strava but how it’s ultimately helped inspire her own training, her advice for professional runners who are trying to increase their presence on social media, and so much more.
“I do not have some sort of god-given talent when it comes to running,” Beal admitted to me. “I don’t have more motivation than anybody else. I am an average person who decided to use the sport of running to change my life in a positive way. And anyone can do that. A lot of people have the opportunity to change their life through running and it’s just whether they take advantage of that opportunity or not.”
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Related links, references, and resources:
— Follow Dorothy on Instagram, Twitter, and Strava.
— Check out her blog, Mile-Posts.
— Join the I Run This Body Facebook group and the Strava Club of the same name.
— What does a runner’s body look like? You are what you want to be. If you want to be a runner you are. If you want to look like a runner and are a runner, well then you are what a runner looks like. “To this day these are some of my favorite words that I’ve ever written,” Beal reflected in a 2016 blog post. “I think of these words every time I read about someone who makes a body judgement about a runner or when a runner shares that they too have been judged as not looking like a runner.”
— “I hope that sharing my vulnerable side helps others do the same,” Beal told Yahoo in 2017.
— “Numbers aren’t inherently negative,” Beal wrote in a post for Women’s Running. “They motivate, encourage, teach and help measure improvement. The problem arises when we take numbers and let them define who we are as a person.”
— Dorothy has been on the cover of two running magazines: Women’s Running in 2013 and Competitor in 2014.
— The Hardest Race of My Life. “Minutes before the gun went off, I decided to ditch the line and run to my corral,” Beal wrote in 2014. “My worst nightmare was coming true—I was running the Boston Marathon and I was going to miss the start.”
This episode of the morning shakeout podcast was edited by John Isaac at BaresRecords.com.
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