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February 08, 2017

#RunLove And Redefining What Strength Looks Like

kellyrunlove_1.jpgPhoto by: Banga Studios

I always say that I was just desperate enough to become a runner. I wasn’t athletic growing up. I never enjoyed being physically active and I was convinced that working out was that thing I had to suffer through in order to lose weight.

Then, my life fell apart. I had just graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in theater arts and my unwavering confidence disappeared. I didn’t think I could survive a life in the entertainment industry being told that I wasn’t skinny enough for the part. I felt like I’d gone to Hogwarts. I didn’t know what to do with my degree, my aspirations or my ambition.

So I moved home to live with my parents to wait until the moment struck where I would “figure out” what to do next. Summer turned to Fall and I spent my days working a 9-5 job as a receptionist. I’d wake up, spend 15 minutes convincing myself to get out of bed, go to work, go to the gym, come home, and sit on the couch watching Real Housewives until it was time to go to bed.

I was bored. I was frustrated. And despite the fact that I was going to the gym every single day after work, I started gaining weight.

My biggest struggle has always been self love. For most of my life, I struggled with my weight. I’d been chubbier, almost skinny, and average depending on the fad diet I was on but it wasn’t until my younger brother passed away suddenly that my weight became a problem. Surviving my loss became insurmountable and within six months of his passing, I weighed over 200 pounds. Grief continues to be the fight of my life, but adopting a healthy lifestyle and losing/keeping the weight off is a close second.

kellyrunlove_2.jpgPhoto by: Banga Studios

Now I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I started running with hopes of losing weight. I didn’t know many runners at the time, but the ones I did know all had the body I thought I needed. So I started running and despite the fact that it hurt like hell and it took me about an hour to go three miles, I kept with it.

With each finish line, I started to learn to love my mind for it’s resilience. Or my body for what it was capable of doing instead of focusing on what I wish I could change. Suddenly, I wasn’t just setting goals to cross finish lines. I found myself setting goals to run a sub two hour half marathon, a sub four hour marathon, and then a Boston Marathon qualifying time. And despite the fact that I knew my own strength and how hard I was working to make my goals a reality, I still had love handles, stretch marks, cellulite, and a jiggly belly. I felt like an athlete but I didn’t believe that I actually looked like an athlete.

Before most of my runs, I had a nasty habit of looking in the mirror as I got dressed and feeling disappointed at the body I saw staring back at me. Despite the fact that I was working harder than I ever had in my life, I only saw my self perceived flaws. I had attached so much shame to my body image that I couldn’t see my body for its strength. And then one disgustingly hot and humid day, I came to my senses.

I was one mile into a 15 mile long run when I realized that the only reason I didn’t have the body I wanted was because I was convincing myself that it wasn’t good enough. So what if I had stretch marks? They’re scars from a time in my life that I’m honestly proud I survived. My love handles and cellulite don’t make me any less strong. I was working really hard and my body was reflecting that. The only reason I couldn’t see that was because I wasn’t working on my self love.

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So I told myself no more. I took off my shirt and realized that other women were probably suffering with their body image as well. The #SportsBraSquad was born and I encouraged other women to shed their shirts along with their insecurities so that together, we could redefine what strength looked like.

The first few weeks I ran in my sports bra were terrifying. I run on the streets of New York City where I cross paths with easily 100+ people per run. I’ve had my fair share of insults thrown my way but surprisingly, they didn’t bother me. I thought the second someone called me fat, I’d fall apart. Turns out, when your self love is strong and resilient, other people’s insults ring hollow. You know your worth. You know your strength. And nothing else really matters.

My #RunLove is for my strength because for the first time in my life, I’m not motivated to run to lose weight. Running in my sports bra gave me a way to really love my body, perceived flaws and all. Because at the end of the day, I’m motivated by impossible goals like running a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Last year, it felt terrifying and impossible but during the Chicago Marathon, I took my time from 3 hours 59 minutes to 3 hours and 41 minutes. I’m only six minutes away. And honestly, if I can’t feel proud of the body that ran a 3 hour 41 minute marathon, then when can I?

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Comments

Sally | February 9, 2017 at 5:51am

Hero

You are my hero...of all of the beautiful, outspoken runners on the Oiselle site YOU are my hero.

Kelly | February 9, 2017 at 6:15am

#sportsbrasquad

Great inspiring article!

Sasha | February 9, 2017 at 6:30am

So much #RunLove

Grief is one of those horrible emotions in life we all unfortunately have to experience. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a sibling. Thanks for sharing how you took something so awful to fuel you positively. Know your brother is so very proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone, and for sharing your story with us.

Jessica | February 9, 2017 at 6:44am

So cool Lady Gaga does it too

Kelly thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story and your midriff. Keep on running in that sports bra! And look, even Lady Gaga is following suit, embracing her body and baring her midriff.

MP | February 9, 2017 at 7:32am

Your article really struck

Your article really struck home with me. I am a similar build as you and have a similar story of dealing with the seemingly constant challenge of weight. And boy, does the lack of self-love (which you've managed to overcome) REALLY hit home! I'm going to bookmark this article in the hopes that it can help me learn to like myself and my body more. Thank you, and keep up the great work!

kelly | February 9, 2017 at 8:29am

runlove

This is terrific! For so many reasons. Thanks Kelly! And good luck with the BQ!!

Alli | February 9, 2017 at 8:40am

Thank you, Kelly!

I have struggled with body image, too. Thank you for sharing your story and strength! You are an inspiration. Good luck with BQ!

Marsha | February 9, 2017 at 9:27am

Beautiful!

Thank you! I loved reading this! I have followed you, but never really read your story. You are beautiful, inside and out! Thank you for sharing that with us!

Laurie | February 9, 2017 at 9:31am

So glad!

I am so glad that Oiselle added you as a muse and brought your story to the flock. Pro runners inspire us, but you embody the every day runner. The runner who works full time, but still gets her mileage in. The runner who doesn't fit the mold but loves wearing beautiful workout gear. The runner who knows her strength, but struggles to see her beauty. I have never run in just a sports bra, but maybe...just maybe...when the hot summer rolls in I will join the #sportsbrasquad. Thank you.

Jill Catherine | February 9, 2017 at 11:20am

Thank you

Kelly, Thank you for sharing your story and walking us through your thought process over the years as it relates to your self, your body, your running, and your truth. I feel as if so many of us can relate to it. Running has been instrumental in my self love journey and I'm totally with you on the #SportsBraSquad. Thanks for being you. xoxo, Jill

Crystal | February 9, 2017 at 12:34pm

you are amazing

Keep up the amazing work. These articles are wonderful!

Rebecca | February 9, 2017 at 4:33pm

Thank You

Most relatable blog ever I've ever read. While we all want to be Kara, most of us are Kelly. Thank you so much for this story. And thank you Oiselle for giving Kelly a place to voice her words.

Jessica Mumme | February 9, 2017 at 5:36pm

LOVE THIS!

Kelly - I just LOVE this. Absolutely EVERYTHING about it! THANK YOU for writing and sharing! -Jessica

Stephanie | February 9, 2017 at 8:29pm

Thank you for writing this

Thank you for writing this and thank you Oiselle for posting it. Not all runners look the same but we're still strong as hell

Maureen Pellegrini | February 10, 2017 at 4:46am

You are beautiful inside and

You are beautiful inside and out. What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your strength.

Guest | February 10, 2017 at 8:50am

*ALLLL the heart emojis*

Love this so much! It's awesome to see bodies that look more like mine rocking workouts and doing amazing things with confidence and strength. Nothing against other runner bodies - I'm just so happy to find running role models I can identify with! It's easier to believe I can do hard things, too, when I see someone who looks like me doing them. Thanks, Kelly and Oiselle!

N | February 10, 2017 at 9:05am

Wow....hits home.

I'm here almost in tears reading this. I've been running 23 years and run over 1,000 miles a year. But I too, look in the mirror (if I dare) and hate what I see. I have a daughter and it's been a struggle to work on my self love so I can teach my daughter to live headless for what she is also.

clare | February 12, 2017 at 3:41pm

thank you!

what a wonderful, empowering story to hear!!! we need more outspoken women like you to reach our hearts and our children!

Blanca | February 12, 2017 at 7:02pm

Congratulations on the 18

Congratulations on the 18 minute marathon PR. You're amazing!

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