Mirna Valerio isn’t your typical ultramarathon runner.
At 250 pounds, the 39-year-old is a far cry from the long and lean runners she regularly competes with.
But this point of difference is hardly holding her back, Valerio runs around 25 miles per week – or 35 if she is training for an event – and shows no sign of slowing down.
“People always say to me, ‘Anyone who runs as much as you do deserves to be skinny.’ Of course, what they’re really saying: ‘If you do all this running, why are you still so fat?'” Valerio recently told Runner’s World.
“I know how hard it is for some people to accept me,” she added. “Serious running and being seriously fat just don’t go together in people’s minds. If I didn’t run, I wouldn’t draw notice. I’d just be one more obese black woman. And if I were thin, I’d just be one more number at the starting line.”
Valerio runs ultramarathons, which include anything longer than the typical 26.2 mile marathon distance. Sometimes she walks, sometimes she runs at a steady pace, but she always finishes.
Her refreshing attitude is proving a hit with many runners and would-be runners, with interviews with media across the world.
Valerio isn’t just running for herself. After 25 years of training (she first fell in love with running at high school), she is now a champion of diversity and offers motivational words of wisdom so people of all body types can realise their sporting potential.
She describes herself on her Instagram as someone “who believes that you gotta just do you”.
“Be skinny, be fat…whatever. Just run,” she adds.
Her blog Fat Girl Running addresses the issues larger runners face, with tips on how to find the right sportswear to how to get started.
For Valerio, the key is just to start running (and take lots of selfies for Instagram).
“Run-walk. Walk-run. Run to the lamppost. Breathe. Take another selfie. Run. Again.”
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