#keepingitreal: Running isn’t pretty

Let’s face it, as women, we’ve all looked at photos of ourselves and thought something along the lines of ‘I don’t like that.’ With the luxury of digital cameras and Smartphones, we can simply delete said photos and take thirty more until we find that one shot where we think we look good. The problem is, while we may find one out of many that we like and accept, those around would easily say that all the photos look good. We need to get over that problem.

One awesome woman, American pro-runner Lauren Fleshman, wrote a post about how us women need to change the way we feel about our bodies, and start posting both flattering and unflattering photos of ourselves to social media, as a way to keep women’s bodies real, aka #keepingitreal. Erin, my equally awesome triathlete blog friend from Minneapolis, accepted Lauren’s challenge, and today, I am too.

For about five years now, I’ve felt that I looked fat in photos. Chubby face, huge thighs and general, overall thickness. While I’ve always had a more athletic, muscular build, and therefore known that I will never be a lanky, skinny girl, I have noticed a change. This is most apparent in my running race photos. While I know that it’s a general rule of thumb that race photos are never flattering for everyone, I’ve seen some pretty nice ones from others (ahem Erin!), and while I think other’s photos are nice, I personally abhor my own. Point in case below:

Aviemore race photo 2

Aviemore Half Marathon: I thought that my race outfit looked good! It so didn’t, and the tights make my thighs look huge.

Aviemore race photo 1

And the worst shot to date comes from the Dundee Roadrunners Templeton 10, wearing my then-new compression tights. Again, I thought my race outfit looked awesome! The only thing I can see in this photo is how huge my thighs look, and to this day, when I wear them to run in, I wonder: do they still look like that?


At least I’m smiling πŸ™‚

To figuratively add insult to injury,another source of running insecurity comes in the form of these horrible toe nails since the half marathon finished:


Sorry for the horrible toe shot!

These are a result of running long in shoes that are my exact size. The discoloration isn’t going away, and over Christmas, while visiting family and friends in Germany, I painted my toenails to prevent others from having to see them. I never paint my toenails, even in the summer. And I’ve only just realised why my nails aren’t getting any better: I’m continuing to run long in the same runners. So obvious, but took me so long to realise. My new runners are a half-size bigger and have much more room in the toes. Hopefully, my nails are on their way back to normality.

Ironically, I quite like the way I look in my photos of myself climbing, weightlifting and playing softball, it’s just the running ones.


While I love running and everything it has done for me to date, the one thing I dislike about it is the way I look in my running photos. I shouldn’t think so negatively about the way I look in the one moment in time when the entire event was incredible. I need to put things in perspective, right? I need to remember what those photos represent: the culmination of weeks of training, hard work, sweat and effort. They represent personal bests and great moments made and had with my running friends. They represent constantly challenging myself in new ways.

Yes, I’m going to continue with #keepingitreal, and posting not-so-flattering race photos, like this one at the finish of the Glamis 10km, where I set a new 10km PR:

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What’s your #keepingitreal issue?

Are you #keepingitreal on social media?

How awesome is Lauren Fleshman?

p.s. This is my 300th post on I Eat Therefore I Run πŸ™‚


12 thoughts on “#keepingitreal: Running isn’t pretty

  1. I think the most flattering of these is the new 10k PR! A look of success and accomplishment in those eyes! Almost saying “damn that was hard, I may puke, but … New PR!!”

    I also hate all my running photos. The problem with running photos is that our big strong legs are working to propel and push us and that makes them move all over the place. I could make my big thighs look skinny and take 30 photos like you said, but then I’d be behind everyone and I’d like to be in front. πŸ™‚

    • I was about ready to puke at the finish, I was running all out, at about a 7:30 pace, to finish! Initially, I didn’t like the photo, but now I think it’s funny.

      I’ve actually thought about strategic poses when I see the photographer, but like you say, our vain selves would be at the back instead. I remember a woman coming up to my friend and I after the Templeton 10, and telling us we were her pacemakers but she couldn’t keep up. All that thigh worry is out the window when you hear that!

      Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  2. I think your photos look great, and I really love that last one from Glamis. Nobody ever likes their race photos and anything that has us hot, sweaty and out of breath is never going to make for the most flattering pictures. I always try to smile and wave at the photographer in the hopes of a better shot and discovered that sunglasses hide the pain in your eyes so you look much fresher than you feel!
    In my pics I often hate the way I look like I’m at a funny angle, but it’s just the way my legs and feet are working to propel me forward. I guess it’s look pretty or run well. I know which I prefer!

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I would prefer to run well, as well. I just need to get over the way my thighs appear in photos. I thought the Glamis one was horrible when I first saw it, but I’ve come around to really like it actually!

  3. Great post and great inspiration! It’s true we’re harder on ourselves than others are on us. I thought you had great race pictures!

  4. Congrats on your 300th post! USually my #keepingitreal issues are around how round my face looks in photos — or if my arms/shoulders look chubby. But I’m working on embracing what the photo really represents — that I was out doing something healthy and active. Oh, and LF rocks!

    • I also feel like my face looks ‘full’ in photos. My goal for my wedding was to get fit enough so that my arms didn’t look chunky in photos :/ I like your attitude about embracing that moment rather than what you look like, I agree!

  5. We’re our own worst critics and the things we don’t like about ourselves in photos are things that no one else would even notice. I think you look great in all your race photos… you look strong, determined and happy! Keep running, rocking your races and embracing all that your body can do πŸ™‚

    • I definitely agree Erin. Have you seen the result of #keepingitreal on Runner’s World? All the photos are fantastic, but to each and every women, they represent some dissatisfaction with their bodies.

      Thank you for your kind words, I will continue to nail it πŸ˜‰

  6. Pingback: Arbroath Footers Smokies 10 race recap #PR | I Eat Therefore I Run

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