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General Running

Do you have a 'typical' runner's build?

asked about 5 years ago | Report

Most people associate a well seasoned/marathon runner with a 'skinny' and/or lanky body,

So, you can imagine the looks I get when people find out the number of miles I put in each week.Why? Because the above description is furthest from what I resemble. If I were to compare myself to any body "type" it would be that of a female basketball player because I am tall(5'10), not skinny yet not fat (145lbs), and slightly muscular in certain areas (ARMS) of my body. Does this ring true for anyone else? Do people look at you cross eyed or as if you're telling some whooping tale when you tell them just how many miles you have run over the last year at your current stature?

(Oddly enough this can sometimes work in my favor because people look at me and think I will be a slow runner based on my 'build.' But, while I am no speedy Gonzlaez, I can give many-a-dudes a run for their money and they always wind up surprised that I am if nothing else able to keep up with them. )

61 answers

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  • Nope. Tall, lanky, former fat dude, clutz, hardly the typical runner build. At 6'3" I am built for reaching boxes of cereal on the top shelf at the grocery store for old ladies. I laughed at your comment about the giving people a run for their money. At a fourth of July run some young punk, ok maybe he was about 30, anyway, blew past me and then cut his pace to the point I almost ran into him. I in turn passed him and took great pride in beating him in an all out sprint of about 400m to the finish.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I am short, 5 9ish, not skinny, not fat, kind of broad (180 lbs), I dont look like a runner, I look like a short football player. But for my build I am pretty darn athletic, and a decent runner, I see alot of people look at me and think, this guy wont be much, little do they know...

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • At 6'1" 230lbs I always hear, " your the biggest fattest marathon. Runner I've ever seen" to which I respond, I am not a marathon runner, I am a runner who is running a marathon. I look more like a tight end then a runner.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • At 5'11'' 180lbs kinda skinny, I think I can pull off the look until I start moving ... then the illusion is most definitely shattered.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • This is too funny.. I get this all the time. I am short 5' 7' and go about 169lb. I have played a lot of sports and have lifted a lot of weights over the years so I am pretty thick. When the conversation comes up and I tell people that I run 7 to 9 miles a day I get that "You are so full of shit" look every time. Cracks me up and gives me more fuel for my runs.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'd say I'm in between being of a natural weight and being of skinny "distance runner" build. I weight 135 and I'm the same height as you. Of course, 135 is what I weight after a run with no clothing on so I probably walk around at 140-145.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I get the opposite. People look at me and think I should be a better runner. I get, "That's all you got?" or "You should be running faster than that" ALL the time.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Just the other day, a few people in my running group asked if I played tennis, or was a cheerleader in HS. "You have that whole ponytail thing going." Suffice to say, I've never been mistaken as a runner :P

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I am 5'11 and 220. This is no where near a "runner's body." At Army officer's school last year I had a young LT ask me "No offense, but HOW do you...." Then I completed his sentence ..."run such a fast 2 mile when I am old an fat?" "ummmm, yeah." he said hesitantly.

    I do want to get down to about 185 which would give me a 5K or 10K type body, but probably not a marathoner type.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Weighing in at 200 lbs and 6'2" I look way more like a washed up football player for sure than a serious runner. I am always amazed at all the different shapes and sizes of people out there running and racing. You see people and you think there is no way that person should be beating me and they do... "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog!"

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • A while back, at a company dinner someone mentioned I had run a marathon a few months ago. Another guy at the table gave a quick laugh and said I looked more like a fullback. I laughed back and said actually I was an offensive tackle. So yeah I don't have the runner build at all. Same as Daniel F above, I look like a short football player.

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Well to answer the first post... I always assume people with taller statures and longer legs can run faster because they have more of an area per stride to cover. But this is not the case because I have seen bigger and shorter people run faster than me, and skinny and taller people run slower than me.

    In my opinion I think it's a combination of things; you can't base your fastness on how someone appears. I mean I assume it's the combination of genetics, conditioning, technique, willpower, and body composition (i.e. the way their bones are aligned, muscle to fat ratio, etc.) that makes a runner slower or faster. It's all about how energy is more efficiently transferred. And sure, in time, a great runner will get rippling lean muscles, but the appearance of that, too, doesn't always make for a really fast runner. A runner, especially a long distance one needs to be able to have some fat and some muscle because otherwise they're going to collapse if they try to run a couple miles.

    I don't look like a runner; even though I train frequently. I used to compete in high school; but put racing on hold here in college for lack of time. There were always skinny little girls that looked like they could be fast that I would beat, and at other times I would get annihilated by a girl who didn't look athletic at all but ran super fast. I am not really thin nor fat at all; and I have a lot of muscle. But I'm average height; about 5'6" and I have always been faster and more competitive at Nordic Skiing than at running; although I can still do some damage in that arena.

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Really cool post! No, I do not have it. I am skinny, but I have soccer legs and good arms. Everyone is different, but yet we are the same :)

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm short, thin, good sized legs (years of soccer will do that) that are long. I don't think that's typical, but it isn't out of the ordinary either. :)

    answered about 5 years ago |edited about 5 years ago |Report

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  • A lot of people used to think I was a swimmer or gymnast because I have pretty broad shoulders and muscular arms. But I think within the past couple of years I've kind of transformed into more of a "runner body type" whatever that means. I just look more athletic than before. I'm not the super skinny type (I'm more short and muscular), but I think the fact that I'm flat-chested causes people to not be surprised that I run haha.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • People say I'm disappearing. I don't count calories or anything but I'm aware if I'm not eating enough I'll cheat for something more caloric. I'm a bit lighter but I'm also a bit faster now too so I don't know if I want to put on more weight. I don't weigh myself so it's difficult to gauge but I suppose I should have a set weight that's healthy and try to monitor it that why.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Very interesting thread. On a related note, the conclusion I have reached in my limited running experience is that body types are not necessarily a good indicator of ability. I remember a 10k I ran last year -- the Rock to Pier in Morro Bay. A guy in his late 50s, possible early 60s passed me. He had that certain body type that men can have: the Partridge. Large, round pear shaped body with little itty-bitty skinny legs underneath. He looked like a couch potato, not a runner. And yet despite his appearance (and the fact that he had 20 years on me), he was much faster that day than me.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • i'm average height (5'9" or 5'10"), and not heavily buillt (150), but i have pretty big legs and a relatively bulky chest for a guy who does my kind of mileage.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Wow. I must be like super duper skinny or something... everyone is saying that they are slightly skinny when they are 5' 10" @ 150-160... I am 5'11" and weigh 133. I am Kenyan build. =D

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Lil
    Lil Sendmail

    I am NOT, nor will I ever be, built like a runner, because I really don't think I am supposed to be one. I am built for strength. At 5'7", I have never weighed less than 150 pounds, and I look and feel sick if I get any lighter. However, I can weightlift once a week and get buff without a problem. I look more like a volleyball or soccer player than a runner, but I can still pound out 6 miles at 160 pounds. Some people are built differently. My goal is to reach the potential for my body type.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • nope! I am only 5' and weigh around 121. I am not fat but no skinny minny either and I have short legs. I run just fine. May not be really fast but a middle of the packer which isn't bad for a 52 year old lady.

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • Let's see, average height, curvy, linebacker shoulders. Nope, definitely not. Then again I don't run anything over 5 miles either. Don't get me wrong, I'm muscular and fit, just not a "runner's build".

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • On a related topic I think a lot of you, especially the women, will find this interesting:
    "What is the look of an olympic athlete?" http://tiny.cc/hyet2

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm just under 5'5" and weigh in anywhere between 135 and 140, with big hips. I take pretty short strides...I like to joke that I have a small wheel base. I think my build probably makes me work harder, but I'm more interested in endurance than speed at this point. I can keep going long past my in-shape 15-year-old and my husband, which surprises a lot of folks.

    This stinks on the soccer field, though. I have to work extra hard to catch those lanky guys. Although once I catch 'em, I can usually send 'em flying with a solid hip check. Not sure how to translate that into running yet. :)

    answered about 5 years ago |Report

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  • I have a similar height and weight as Kristen (5'9," between 138 and 145 lbs depending on how active I am), but I don't necessarily look super athletic. I have a long slim torso and fuller thighs, and I'm kind of chesty, but I've always been able to run really long distances at a steady 9-10 min/mile pace, even when I haven't run in months. I was wondering if that was common, because I'm relatively curvy, and one typically associates long, lean builds with distance running. By the looks of this post, though, runners come in all shapes and sizes!

    Also, I'm thinking of starting training for my second marathon--anyone have any idea how far in advance I should start? I was fresh out of my high school cross country team for the last one, so training was pretty easy for me, but the college lifestyle has had a bit of a toll on my stamina. I can run a 10k relatively comfortably now, but that's pushing it.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm with Daniel F - 5'9" or 5'10" 180 - I was up to 220 a couple of years back. I've always had an athletic build - more of a soccer player look. People always thought I was a sprinter...

    But as I'm losing weight, my body shape is changing, and I think I'm looking more and more like a runner. I was talking to a band that our church brought in, and the guy asked first off, "Are you a runner?" I was pretty stoked about that question...

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm not a "seasoned" runner, but hope to be in the next year....5'6 and 155lb....would love to get down to 140 and build/tone some muscle.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • At 6'3" and 230 lbs I'm in the same camp as Stephen C, in that I look more like a tight end than a runner. Running has definitely made me leaner, but I'm happy with where I'm at even if I would like to lose another 10 lbs. I know I think I shocked the guy at the end of the Tyranena race when I sprinted past him towards the finish because he definitely had the runner's build.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • Fat people unite! Nothing better than a fat old guy without the right wardrobe finishing in front of the skinny young guy in his specialized garb. Just imagine how fast we'd be if we were skinny !! Chris Kelley Framingham

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • 5'7" 136lbs.
    Damn- you'd think I'd be a better runner.
    Working on my first 26'er at age 45. I'm past base camp and climbing the mountain.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm the same weight as Morey B. -- 136 lbs. But my height is 4'10", so definitely not a runners build. But I'm slowly working on getting both thinner and faster.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • Rob
    Rob Sendmail

    I definitely do not have the typical "runner's build". At 6' 3" and 210 lbs, I run like a handcuffed giraffe. You can't beat the feeling of a good run followed up by cold frosty beverage. One of life's simple pleasures...

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • This post reminded me of the HUUGE man, almost like a basketball/football player, who ran past me on my first race. And I remember thinking, "WTH...how..how can he run like that??"
    I think you can tell most of the time if a person is an athlete/runner, by their posture, they stand tall even if they're actually short, and they have runner's legs.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • I don't have the typical build either. More muscular and heavier than what most people consider a runner should be. It doesnt bother me. Although I do wish I could stop snacking so much and lose about 10 - 15 pounds.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • As a nearly 46yo, 5' 7" male, being 184lbs is far from a typical runner's body. People are surprised when I tell them I run (bicycle, cross-country ski, etc.) occasionally, and even more so when they find out I can do 10k. I look like a short, fat, graying old man. I'm stronger than people expect too. It is almost like being a super hero with secret abilities. :-) I am trying to get back down to my 20s weight of 160lbs, where I was about right for me. I'll never look like the stereotypical runner.

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • Just attend ANY type of race, 5k, 10K, half, full, and you'll see the full gamut of body shapes, from obese to cut. I've never seen an Elite who doesn't fit the typical runner stereotype, but the rest of us come in all shapes and sizes. I think what confuses most people about running as an exercise, is that it is a TERRIBLE method for losing weight. It's relatively low effort; approx 80-100 calories per mile. Compared to other activities, such as weight training, running won't make most people skinny. Actually, it can have the opposite effect since running tends to stimulate appetite, causing you to over eat!

    answered almost 5 years ago |Report

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  • I'm probably a surprise runner too, at 5'5" and somewhere between 150-160. I lift a few times a week, so I think I'm pretty muscular underneath the fat and that pushes me to run hard! And of course there have been races where I'm surprised at the smaller size of people I'm passing (those that may have the 'runners physique'), and those that I can't catch as well!

    answered over 4 years ago |edited over 4 years ago |Report

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  • I know I am just beginning my serious running, but I am 5'6" and weigh 168 and last year I did two sprint triathlons and an olympic distance and didn't even come in last! I've learned to let go of the "typical" type and have instead fallen in love with running - as the miles come and if the weight drops off, I'll still be a runner/swimmer/biker and still be loving it.

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • My sister once showed up to the finish of one of my 100 milers. She whispered to me, "Some of these women have thunder thighs!" Ha ha!

    So true. Especially in the longer distances, skeletal integrity is so much more important than body type. I am 6' and 175, but just last year was 185. People now DO say I look like a runner (a friend once said I looked emaciated. Thanks. I think), but not when I was heavier. Yet even then I was putting down 70-80 miles a week, all trails.

    Don't worry about how you look. Worry about your form and your speed. If you can lose some weight, do it--it will help with your running. But, above all, have fun!

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • Great thread...People come in all shapes and sizes as do runners - I definitely do NOT have a typical runner body. I am pretty muscular and lift weights, and I have large hips and caboose. =) I am 5'1" and 147 lbs. The best shape I have ever been in my life was at 132 lbs and I am on my way to getting back down there again! I also find that I do run easier when I weigh less, so it's a great incentive....Above all, we must learn to love ourselves in this moment and accept the body we have been given - Happy running to you all.

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • yup. im 5'9" and 225 lbs. I just finished my second marathon in 3 months. Also did a 1/2 marthon inbetween them. Anyway, im very muscular (based on running standards). I had a guy run by me during the 1/2 and he said "you should be playing football, not running marathons". Anyway, my goal is to run 50 marathons in 50 states. My next planned marathon is the Hilo marathon in Hilo Hawaii. I want to do the Phoenix rock and roll but I'm not sure I can afford it. If I can get some sponsorship, I will do it for sure. That would be 3 marathons and 1 half marathon in 4.5 months. Not bad for a 225 lbs muscle head

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • I'm 5-7 and 175 lbs.

    Most tailors I've visited tell me my legs are 2 inches too short, based on my upper body measurements.

    So I don't have a long stride... fastest mile I ever ran was a 4:57 in high school. I can do an 8 minute mile right now. Not bad for a 45-year old management professor... but I know I can do better. I'd like to run a 48 minute 10K this April.

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • no i'm built like a football player

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • Nope, not a typical runners build - I am short and stocky (and stubborn, which is what pulls me through marathons I think ha ) not fat, not skinny - but I am pretty muscular, not at all the typical runners build. I have had people ask me why I run, because "you are obviously not built to be a runner." I have also had the funny look and the snort when someone I don't know finds out I have run 4 marathons - as if they think I am making it up or something.

    answered over 4 years ago |Report

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  • I was a raceday register at a local race last spring and the guy was asking me questions and filling out the form. Name, age, etc. Then he looked up at me and stated "Clydesdale" and marked it on the form.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I'm no where near a seasoned runner, but even when I can call my self that, I won't be the typical build.

    5ft 3" and currently 153lbs, but the weight is dropping off and so is my waist :D I am quite 'stocky' and muscular due to my Karate Training though so am never gonna be 'light', even though I am a short arse! hehe!

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Not at all! I am built like you Kristen. I am 5'8'' and about 145. I have very muscular legs. I hold all my weight from the waist down. I wish just for one day I could have bird legs but that will never happen!

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I've been told I look like the distance I now run, I used to do 10-milers and 1/2M and people said I didn't look skinny or tall enough. But now that I'm all all 5Ks and a few 10Ks people agree that I look more like a runner (minus the obnoxious chubby face) ha.
    I'm 5'10"ish and 149 lbs, 10% body fat (according to the Army). I came into the military at 141, though.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • 5'9" 165#, I have an average body for a runner, but my non-running friends call me skinny. Since I've been doing some core work my butt has slimmed down!

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • I'm 5'11'' 220lbs on a good day haha. Probably look more like a wrestler or football player more than anything else, at least I would like to think. I received a comment once after I finished a 5k from the guy who finished after me "You're pretty fast for a big guy" I found it complimentary yet a bit insulting at the same time. A runners body would be nice but I enjoy being one of the bigger guys out there too. Runners come in all shapes and sizes for sure.

    answered over 3 years ago |edited over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Good question. I find myself every once in awhile leaning over to my wife and saying "look at him/her they have that look of a runner". I myself don't think I even have a chance at being that lightweight. Right now I'm 5' 11" and weigh 192lbs. I'm a former soccer player and that probably is what someone would say I look like. Over the last year I have started to run more and more, but no matter how much time I put in I could not imagine my physic allowing me to go under 170 (unless I was to cut my food intake in half...which isn't going to happen). As I stretch my distance out more, perhaps I'll see some weight loss....who knows.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • Im 195cm and somewhere around 82kg... Im assuming thats not really a classical runners build either...

    but i think this thread goes to show that there really is no runners body/build. Even at ellite levels the 10000m has a great variety.

    answered over 3 years ago |Report

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  • not at all! i'm a bit under 5 foot 3 and i find myself to be pretty porky (maybe 108lbs?) people think since im so short im no challenge. im nothing crazy but im in the top 10 of my xc team.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • 5'2" and around 137 on a good day, 140+ on bad. I'm someone who can walk up to those "Guess Your Weight" games at a carnival and they'll miss by 20 pounds every time and I walk away with the big stuffed animal. But no, I don't look like what people assume is the "runner's build". Short legs, long torso, broad shoulders. I am what I am.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • No! I am 6'2" and 205 lbs. Probably 20 lbs heavier than my ideal running weight. But seeing how I used to weigh 255, I am ok with where I am right now. I am glad to represent the "clydesdales" out there.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • I'm 5ft tall and 100lbs with a very petite build. People think that running is easy for me because I am so small and don't haul much weight! They think I don't even break a sweat.... but come on!... my legs are short..... I have to take twice as many strides as the average person!

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • I guess I could be considered "runner build". 5'10", 135 pounds, long skinny legs, etc... My problem is everyone expects me to be fast, and that running should be easy peasy for me and my long legs. Endurance is something I really struggle with unless I am training hard - long legs or not.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • After reading most of these, i'm starting to think maybe I DO have a "runner's build". At 5'6" and currently 185, I kinda fit what most everybody else is. I play soccer1-2 times a week, and do a fair amount of push-ups from time to time, but other than that running is my only exercise. I had gotten down to 175 and was working on the whole 6-pack thing and then the holidays happened. I haven't been able to get back to 175 since then. I'm comfortable in my current weight tho, considering it was not that long ago that i was up to 225 and very unhealthy all the way around. I think by the time race season really gets rolling around here I'll get back down to my "ideal" race weight, but if i can't i'll just chalk it up to added muscle and call it good.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • 5' 8", 170lb, giant head, skinny arms, beer belly. No, I don't look like Tony Krupicka. But most days, it works for me!

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • Not at all. 6 '3" and about 225 lbs. I look too big and too slow to be a runner. When in fact, I am a big, slow, runner!

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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  • I'm 6'1" and about 160lb. So I'm too tall and heavy to look like an elite runner and too skinny to look athletic. However, I'm pretty sure I have a certain physiological advantage so I'd like to win my age group in a 5k some day. Best so far is 3rd but I've only been running for a few years and at 38 I think I have a couple quick years left in these old legs.

    answered over 2 years ago |Report

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