Who better to welcome to The Fit List on Global Running Day than Mirna Valerio. Mirna is an ultra marathoner and a walking (running?) testament to the fact that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes:
Think you’re too fat? Think you’re too slow? Think you can’t run? Well, my former high school teacher from Purnell, New Jersey, Mirna Valerio, can tell you differently. She has been in the news quite a lot recently, has been featured in Runners World, People, Pop Sugar, Buzzfeed, and NBC Nightly News, and has received so much other press as well. Her blog, Fat Girl Running, talks about her body, of which she is extremely proud, what she does to train and her experiences being a heavier runner in today’s world.
1. What was your inspiration for starting your blog, Fat Girl Running?
At Purnell, I was writing for a while. I was posting a lot of what I was doing fitness-wise on Facebook, and another former teacher said, ‘Why don’t you just start a blog? You are a writer anyway. It would be a really good way for you to share what you’re doing and your journey with other people.’ That was really it. Ms Patient told me to do it, and I did. Also, I knew I wanted to share specifically about training for my first marathon in 2011, the Marine Corp Marathon. So those were my two inspirations — my colleagues telling me to share my journey on a blog, and me wanting to share about being a bigger girl, being a runner and training for my marathon.
2. How did you know blogging was something you wanted to do?
I have always been a writer and always searched for ways to include writing in whatever I do. I used to write for Purnell’s annual publication, I am a staff writer for trailandultrarunning.com, have been published in Urban Latino magazine. It’s just another natural way to share my journey on my own terms.
3. What motivates you to stay fit?
Seeing what the consequences are for a sedentary lifestyle in my family and with people I love motivates me. Things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and issures with mobility; not being able to walk and move around without it hurting — those are real concerns for me. Also, I love movement. I love being outside. I enjoy the outdoors more than most people. I love being fit and I enjoy the outdoors more being physically fit.
4. How do you get others to feel motivated?
I think the primary thing is people seeing me do stuff. A lot of people say, ‘I saw you outside today, and that made me get on my treadmill or that made me go outside.’ That is the biggest motivator for most people. I like to be positive and encourage people to do what they can at whatever level of fitness they have. I try to be encouraging and motivating, but I think the biggest factor is seeing other people out there and thinking I can do that. Maybe I can try to go for a run or go for a walk or try Crossfit or Zumba. When you see people out there, people who don’t necessary fit into that fitness model image that many of us have in our heads, I think that encourages and inspires people to try it themselves.
5. What is your favorite part about blogging?
The writing; I do lots of writing. That’s probably my favorite thing. Number two would be that it allows me to reach a larger audience in a really constructive and positive way. It’s like an extention of my teaching. I think people like to feel loved and appreciated, and I hope that’s what I am doing with my blog.
6. Do you have other passions besides running?
Writing, singing opera, reading, playing piano, and my new favorite thing is listening to audio books. I’m obsessed.
7. What motivated you to complete the marathons and ultramarathons you completed?
I like long distance. I love being able to complete the distance. I love being able to say I completed a marathon or ultramarathon or I did a 60K. I like to surprise myself in terms of what my body can do, I like to test it to see if I can actually do it, and then I always like to surprise other people. I love challenging myself, being outside for that long, being inside my own head in my own thoughts and in nature. It’s a combination of all those things.
8. When you have an off-day or a tough day, what do you do to keep your game face on?
I just go through the motions. There are tons of days where I don’t feel like doing anything, but I have to do a 5-miler because it’s in my training plan, and if I don’t do it, I wont have my mileage I want for the week, or I am not going to have the miles on my legs for the next marathon in 10 weeks. I always have a goal or race I am aiming for, and if I don’t have a race, I try to keep millage up, so I don’t have to start from the beginning when I do have a race coming up. Or it’s a test that I have to complete. If i don’t feel like doing anything, I just get up and do it, and if I’m not feeling fine by the first mile, I will just stop, but the feeling usually goes and away, and after the first mile I am fine and keep going. It’s just going through the motions; I don’t feel like it, but I am going to act like I feel like it even if I don’t.
9. She’s Fit to Lead is all about connecting to confidence. What’s your best confidence building advice?
You have to have a habit of loving yourself. I think that where confidence comes from is a habit or practice of loving yourself. If you have a habit of looking in the mirror and looking at yourself and saying I appreciate you, or maybe your way of appreciating your body is something else like yoga. Appreciate all your body can do. Appreciate the incredible machine your body is. When you start loving it, you start loving yourself, and when you love yourself, things don’t get to you. When things don’t get to you, you have this inner confidence about you that is hard to shake.
10. What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become fit to lead?
When you are fit to lead, you have confidence and self-assurance that draws people to you, draws people to your aura. And when you have the ability to draw people to you ,you can influence them and lead them in positive ways. When you are drawn to someone you look at them to lead. It is all about confidence or having that self-esteem.
11. What is on the horizon for you? What is next?
I submitted a book proposal, so I am waiting to hear from some publishers. I have of bunch of races and events coming up in the summer. Ultramarathons, marathons, obstacle courses, several Ambassadorships. (One with merrll. Swiftwix; athletic socks, skirtsports (women founded and run company for athleic clothing).
12. I saw the empowering video that you posted about the #iamme campaign from Evans. Can you tell me about this campaign? What encouraged you to do this?
I have a publicist that people go to when they are interested in my story, and they reached out to her saying they were having this campaign, ‘Style has no size #iamme.’ They said they would love me to be a part of it. My publicist told me, ‘Of course you’re going to do it!’ It’s more publicity for me and my mission, so of course I did it. So they flew me and seven other women to New York to shoot videos and photos with a famous photographer, Danielle Levin. They crafted this campaign after their last campaign got a lot of flack from people who thought that they didn’t include all size models. They came back with this really really awesome inclusive campaign with plus size women, different plus sizes, not all models and different races.