Mirna Valerio, known as ‘The Mirnavator’, is an author and runner representing plus-size women as she takes on ultramarathon running. Mile by mile, Mirna went from running 5Ks to 10Ks to marathons and so much more.
On her blog, Fat Girl Running, Mirna shares her training routines, race experiences and obstacles she faces as ‘an active larger girl in a thinner world’. Today, Mirna isn’t afraid to take on a 100K and hopes to inspire others to push their limits.
Move in Your Body’s Way
Mirna grew up in Brooklyn, New York and found a love for running at age 13. Mirna describes running as the most natural form of human movement. She said, “It’s the way we used to hunt and move between settlements. It makes me feel my most human and powerful.”
After a few years of doing 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons, the next challenge had to be a marathon. Mirna had discovered that her body was meant for long distance running. She could go slow, long, and enjoy her time outside. Moving her body in nature for long periods of time in a mostly enjoyable way fueled Mirna’s passion.
Test Your Strength
Two weeks into training for the marathon, Mirna fractured her ankle. She went to a sports medicine doctor who said she’d be able to get to the marathon if she did exactly what the doctor told her. With a lot of physical therapy and cross training, Mirna was actually stronger and able to go longer by the end of her recovery.
The marathon wasn’t necessarily pretty, but Mirna was in love. She was hooked with the notion of testing her body that way. But that didn’t mean it was easy. Mirna knew a marathon would be physically painful. She’d experienced dehydration and other issues before. When she finished the race, all the pain fell away. Mirna was proud of herself and ready to take on the next race.
Share Your Story
Mirna loved sharing her adventures and experiences with her friends and family so much that she eventually started a blog. She’d noticed that everything about running was focused on how many calories you burned or losing inches on your waist and not the enjoyment of the sport. This was the perspective Mirna wanted to share with more women.
People sometimes tell Mirna things like, “You would lose more weight if you walked,” or “You should just go to the gym.” Mirna is quick to respond that she’s actually training for two marathons. This incredible ultrarunner knows that people say things thinking they know your journey. You have to keep reminding them that it’s your personal journey. “Your frame of fitness is your own,” Mirna explained. Even if the comments hurt, Mirna kept going because she knew the journey was about her and no one else.
Taking on Boston
To run the Boston Marathon, you have to qualify, raise a ton of money, or be invited by a sponsor. Mirna was invited and was thrilled with the amazing opportunity. When the day of the marathon came, Boston had its worst weather for the race in 30 years. A monsoon sat over Boston the whole day and it was miserable.
The night before the race, Mirna was hit with a sinus infection and a fever, yet she still made her way to the starting line and committed to the race. About 1K into the race, Mirna threw out all the time goals she had set and focused on making it through the adverse conditions and physical pain.
With 41K to go, Mirna pulled out her mantra, “Small steps, big distance” She knew the run would be long and uncomfortable, but if she took it in small chunks she could do it. Small goals lead to big distance.
Dealing with a DNF
Unfortunately, things don’t always go your way with a run and sometimes a DNF is inevitable. When faced with this decision, Mirna sometimes thinks, “What are people going to think about me?” With her running so public, a decision to DNF isn’t something she can necessarily hide.
When a damaged ankle required her to DNF, Mirna was disappointed in herself. She shed some tears and told herself it was for the greater good. In trail running, injuries like this happen. It’s better to pull out than hurt yourself more. You DNF for a reason.
In situations like this, you have to remind yourself that there are plenty of other races out there. You have to do what’s right for yourself. Acknowledge your disappointment and sadness, then get over it. Soon after a DNF, Mirna is already thinking about the next race and how she’s going to train better.
Push Your Limits
Before she left for a race in Portugal, Mirna’s coach encouraged her to remember that you’re only ever performing 40% of your human potential. This drives Mirna to try harder because she recognizes that there’s so much more she can do. She constantly wants to push that limit and see how far she can go.
For runners toward the beginning of their running journey, Mirna points out that there are so many different types of bodies running. Wherever you start, that’s where you are. Whether you’re bigger, smaller, or slow that’s you. She said, “Running doesn’t belong to one type of person, it belongs to everyone. We should be running no matter who we are.”