Thursday, June 30, 2011


Yesterday I started thinking, as I often do, about the assumptions we make about people.  We notice someone, maybe a stranger on a bus or another shopper in a store and sometimes we make a judgment about them that’s totally wrong.

A few weeks ago I tried one of those Bar classes for the first time. The instructor was asking me about injuries and I mentioned I was trying to not aggravate an injury because I had a marathon coming up in a few days.  Another woman there, very tiny, decked out in fancy workout clothes, looked up and down (the girl body check look) and said, “Oh, I assume it’s your first”.  She’d looked at me, honestly probably twice her size and made an assumption that I must be an inexperienced marathoner.  Her jaw damn near dropped to the floor when I responded, “No, I think this is about #16 for me.”

I posted that story in my Running Chicks group and there were several stories of people making assumptions about my friends because of how they look. One woman had someone make a crack about walking when she ran into her at a 5k, but my friend went on to win the 5k outright, beating the men.  Apparently some people think she looks chunky but she’s all muscle. She gets the “Is this your first marathon?” question with the girl body check a lot.  She enjoys telling them she qualified for the Boston Marathon – twice now.

Another woman tried to register for a race where there was a 50k and a 20k and the person said, “I assume you’re paying for two people?” then seemed shocked that she was running the 50k.  A couple woman had outright been told things like they were fat, they didn’t “look” like a runner, etc.  

My sister is a larger sized person and she just walked a 5k this weekend. It was something like her 4th or 5th race in the last 6 months.  A few days later she was at work and they were doing that ice breaker where you tell people 3 things about you and one of them is a lie.  One of her 3 things was “I just did a 5k this weekend” and every single person picked that as her “lie”, then looked incredulous when she told them they were wrong. Assumptions.

Sadly, I’m guilty of it too.  I was on the bus yesterday and I saw a very heavy woman sitting a few rows ahead of me. The bus was crowded but no one was sitting next to her because she needed more than one seat.  I looked at her and thought, “That used to be me.  I hope she finds the courage to start exercising and do something about her weight”.  Then she got off the bus and took her bike off the rack and rode away and I felt ashamed. 

There was a time when I was 300 pounds, 275 pounds, 250 pounds and people would have thought that about me too.  (Well actually many would have been way less charitable, but that’s another post.)  And I could have said to them, very honestly, I work out 5 days a week, because I did.  They didn’t know how I looked when I started, they didn’t know where I was in my journey. Just like I don’t know anything about that woman on the bus biking home. That’s the problem with assumptions, they’re often wrong.


  1. Great article. Great points here. Thanks Rose!

  2. Rose.....the stories you and I could swap. You make such a good point. I am for sure one of those "doesn't look like a runner" kind of gals. I'm so sick of everyone assuming I'm inexperienced - even though my rank is nothing compared to yours. Then again, I'm just as guilty as making assumptions about others. I've always said I put the "ass" in assume. We all need to be better humans. :)

  3. Great post! Something similar happened to me a few months ago. I mentioned in a group work outing that I had a 5K coming up, and my boss said, "YOU'RE doing a 5K?" As though he was shocked I would run a race. Thanks, boss... but whatever, I've done two since then and have another one planned. :)

  4. Wow, great post, especially the part where you are honest enough to admit that you fall prey to the same tendency to make assumptions as everyone else. I hate having other people assume things about my fitness level from my looks, but I am guilty of doing it to others too.

    Thanks for coming to my blog and posting a comment -- I just added your blog to my subscriptions after reading several great posts.