Still Fighting Assumptions…

I have probably said all this before, but I am going to say it again because it needs saying.

It is time we stopped making assumptions about people based on appearance and preconceived ideas. 

Forget what you know about me for a second and look at these pictures…





 forgetting anything you have read on this blog so far…which one of us is fitter, healthier and better at running?

I know what 99% of the world would say.

Now take into account this whole exercising every day for ever thing, and the fact that Rachel smokes, does no exercise (until recently)and took up running 1 month ago…

see that changes things a bit doesn’t it…

I am not going to lie and say I have never made an assumption like this, and I can even understand why it is most people’s first thought, but I would like to sow a tiny seed of doubt in peoples minds… a tiny spark of the thought that things may not be as they seem…

You may be wondering what has brought this up right now…well something happened a couple of weeks ago that made me realise that no matter how far I know I have come, I am still fighting against peoples preconceived ideas and their snap judgements.

look runners!!

look runners!!

anyone remember this run?

Rachel and I went out for a 5km jog/walk as part of the half marathon preparations.

I convinced rachel that instead of walking back we should continue with the intervals and run walk back…thus making her run almost double her normal distance. At the very end, just as we were starting our cool down walk, two things happened: 1) rachel decided to sprint for a minute, I was going to but decided not to and so started my cool down walk. b) we me a man who turned out to be from a local running club.

the first odd thing was he just started talking to me despite the fact that I was obviously in the middle of something but that is a different point. the really annoying thing was the way the conversation went. 

He started by asking if we wanted to come to the runnign club…ok so far, but followed it up with a lot of words which included:

“it is ok that your friend is more natural at running” to me


“I saw you struggling when you came round the corner” to me…no you didn’t you saw me stop when I was at the end…


“the club is really good for slower runners” which was said so often that it became clear that he meant fat runners who are not very good…

and so on and so on!

OK…from the first glance the assessment of the situation could be excused. but during the conversation we talked about the 5k and 10k raced i had been in, Rachel talked about how she had only been running about 3 weeks, and the assumptions and comments were still the same. 

no amount of talking, including me assertively stating “look seriously I am better than she is!” (for which I did apologise to Rachel afterwards but she understood) could get this man to change his mind. 

In his head, the taller thinner person was fitter. no ifs no buts no nothing.

assumptionsI am not denying that this is sometimes the case, but I really want everyone out there to consider that once in a while it isn’t that way. 

Even more than that, I want people to listen to the people they are talking to and accept that their first assumption may have been wrong! 

To take the positive side of this, these assumptions didn’t make me upset as they once would have, they did make me cross, but they mostly made me glad that I am doing what I am doing. The more people out there running / swimming /lifting / climbing / whatevering of all sizes, the more chance there is of making the world realise that the world of fitness is not just the domain of the super stereotypically fit looking! 

I am still working towards not getting the sympathy clapping at the end of races mind you!

(by the way, I am not casting aspersions about Rachel in this post…she knows what I mean!)


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About Sam Catchpole

Exercisaholic, Photographer, Artist, Writer, Engineer, Morris Dancer, General Obsessive...

45 responses to “Still Fighting Assumptions…”

  1. NancyTex says :

    Kudos to you for not pulverizing him. How unbelievably rude. Especially when he refused to back down from his original opinion.

    I’ve said numerous times in past blogs that skinny doesn’t mean healthy. This is why I place so much value on exercise versus diet. I know plenty of people who starve themselves down to a goal weight but couldn’t run a mile to save their life. By contrast, I know people who are many pounds above their goal weight who can do crazy athletic things – and who really are the picture of good healthy despite looking a bit heavy.

    Truth by told, it probably is going to be more ‘naturally’ easy for a Rachel to run – because I just believe that having to carry less weight while you’re running makes the act of running easier. Imagine if you asked a Rachel (but not Rachel, because she’s nice) to put a backpack with 20 kgs on her back and do that same sprint. I’ll bet she’d be struggling. Food for thought.


  2. whackyrach says :

    I do know exactly what you mean…I do seem to come up as an example of world stupidness in your blogs alot though… 😃


    • Ice_Badger says :

      To be fair, once you were an example of stupidness of others… I could have used dan who also looks slim and fit…but it wouldn’t work because he runs so much better than me… 😛


  3. fisefton says :

    I know what you mean. When we go to parkrun there are, obviously, runners and walkers of all abilities. It is very tempting to think “I can’t let him/her beat me, they’re so much bigger than I am” but they could have been running this 5K for months and if you haven’t done a lot of running or are still building up to it you aren’t going to be as quick. The same thing goes for those with disabilities. I think some people are surprised when Adam finishes as fast as he does especially as we run/walk all of it.


    • Ice_Badger says :

      I think it is part of human nature to make snap assumptions and judgement, the most important thing is to have an understanding that your assumptions might be wrong!
      I really try not to make them any more because I am aware of how wrong people’s are about me!
      Strangely enough, I am often faster when I run/walk than when I attempt to run constantly!


      • fisefton says :

        It is human nature, what do they say first impressions? You only have about 5 seconds for someone to make up their mind? Yes, you should be prepared for your assumptions to be wrong and for that man to not actually listen to what you were saying was plain rude!

        I’m faster when I run constantly but that’s because I built up to it, slowly. I never actually followed a 5k programme properly I just added a minute to my run interval when I finished a run comfortably. I’m now doing that with Adam except in his case I add a minute whenever he gets a PB at parkrun 🙂


      • Ice_Badger says :

        That is what I thought, I virtually resorted to shouting at him, it shouldn’t have mattered so much but after the fifth time of him saying it it started to grate!
        I think I am going to have to change my approach to my training, I have been attempting to follow the beginner to 13.1 interval app but I always get to a certain point then can’t improve any more…it might be a mental block…


      • fisefton says :

        I’m not sure I can help you with the training, I’ve never done a Half and the last 10K I did was with Adam so we intervalled it (is that a word? If it isn’t, it should be).


      • Ice_Badger says :

        Intervalled definitely should be a word!! I think I am just going to plug away at it attempting to increase the invert las and overall time alternately and gradually and see what happens! 🙂


      • fisefton says :

        That sounds like a good plan.


  4. jane in training says :

    HE was from a running club?! Of all of the people in the world, he should know that runners come in all shapes and sizes and running styles. It tells you more about him than anything else. I’m not one for violence, but perhaps you could have bench pressed him once or twice? 🙂


    • Ice_Badger says :

      I know, it seemed like a nice friendly offer at first and if he had accepted what we were saying it would have been. To be honest, people like that are the exact reason I don’t want to go to the running club! Even though I know not everyone is like that!
      I love the bench press idea 😀


      • jane in training says :

        The idea of clubs (running, wooden, night) intimidates me, so I stay away. But the majority of runners seem kind and supportive. For one bad apple (Mr. BenchPress), there are many good ones of differing colors, shapes and sizes! Great post! 🙂


      • Ice_Badger says :

        😀 thanks!
        Mr Benchpress is definitely not typical, but large crowds of people intimidate me if I don’t know them anyway coupled with the thought that they might be thinking the same so I think I may just stick to solo running for now 🙂


  5. DebraB says :

    Bravo! I know just what you mean. I have exercised regularly my whole adult life, and yet I am considerably overweight. People are always surprised at how strong and aerobically fit I am. Sometimes it irritates me. I want to ask why they are so surprised since I’ve been exercising forever. I know what the answer is, though–because I am overweight, they assume I never exercise.


    • Ice_Badger says :

      It is amazing isn’t it! I just wish people could get over the mentality that assumes the only way to be fit and healthy is to be thin!
      I had it for a nurse once who took my blood pressure and found it slightly high for the first and only time in my life. I was under stress at the time, mum m was terminally ill! I was also kickboxing regularly and training for a 10k..:she just looked at me and said “are you going to try and get some exercise?” I was flabbergasted!!
      The worst thing is people don’t even try that hard to disguise their surprise!!


  6. Expat Eye says :

    You and Nancy are too cute 😉 Sorry I’ve been a bit slack on the reading lately – it’s a busy time!
    Great post and message 🙂


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