Running in a sports bra has always been a "maybe someday" for me. The list of reasons was long, I need to be in better shape, I need to have ran for longer, people will judge me, it's awkward, I'm not supposed to do that, I have to be skinnier to do that. But about a year ago I started following Kelly Roberts on instagram. Someone who is passionate about any womans right to run in a sports bra, no matter the size, no matter the running ability. I would read her posts and constantly think, "You go girl!" and "Yeah!" and "WOW that is so encouraging." But I certainly wasn't going to implement any of it into my own life.
At the beginning of this summer, on one of the first very hot days, the complaints over feeling hot were getting more and more often every mile. Finally I was like, Dev- you can just run in a sports bra, it's a perfectly okay option. So I did. And suddenly it clicked that it was MORE than okay to do that. In this world, so many pressures are put on us, to look perfect, to be in the best shape, to cover up so people don't comment, to cover up to be SAFE. But the reality is, running in a sports bra is a right you're born with, not one you should feel you have to earn.
Just last month I was running a 20 mile training run for the Chicago Marathon on my own. As I was running past Oak Street Beach there were some men working to set up an event, riding on a cart moving things from one end of the beach to the other. The moment one of the men saw me running, he exclaimed "Baby, you don't have to run you can just come sit on my lap!" I was wearing shorts, a short sleeve tech shirt, and knee high compression socks. It was in that moment that I realized that no matter what I wore, I would be singled out, I would feel awkward, I would have a moment of feeling unsafe.
Prior to this summer I had ran in my sports bra once, maybe twice, and felt awkward the entire time. But after the first time this summer, I felt empowered and I haven't looked back. When the forecast is hot, I wear whats comfortable and if what's comfortable is a sports bra and shorts- then I run in a sports bra and shorts. This summer has been a journey of realizing that I don't have to be "perfect" to be comfortable. I won't lie and say I don't overthink it, and that I don't have to fight any lies in my head- I certainly still overthink, and I fight the lies daily. But the freedom in realizing that I can run in whatever I want is a game changer.
This may sound silly, as if it's just about sports bras, but it's so far beyond sports bras. Body image is a constant battle for so many people. The standards we hold ourselves to are often next to impossible. The scale, the mirror, and our brain can certainly take over, in the most unhealthy ways possible. I think when I started running 5 years ago, I started a really long journey of healing my brain and my body image. I always joke that running is my therapy, but that's actually one of the most accurate sentences. Running allows me space to think, time to pray. Running for hours is a test at how long you can sit inside your own thoughts. Running makes me more aware than ever of my body, of the shape it's in, of the strength it has. Running has given me the ability to fight a lot of lies I tell myself about my body, the ability to fight each "But this isn't perfect yet." with "If you're body is strong enough to do what you do, it is just perfect enough." Running has put me on a journey of learning what the difference between "skinny" and "strong" is, what the difference between "calorie counting" and "fueling my body well" is. The ability to enjoy every last bite of a donut, and go out the next morning on a run in my sports bra. Because my body doesn't define my beauty.