Last month several members of the ARC board joined the #SportsBraSquadATX for their global running day and felt so inspired that Amber Wadey caught up with Jessie Barnes to learn more about this movement.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start running and what are your running goals?
I started running three and a half years ago. I had never been very active, but a few life changes had me feeling lost and I needed an outlet, and even though I couldn’t run even a mile at first, running was exactly what I needed. In the beginning it really helped me work through some emotion that no amount of wine or talking could process. Something about getting out there and sweating and pushing through physical barriers was what my mind needed. I’ve found it to be so empowering and freeing, and over time as I’ve tapped into the running community locally and online I’ve really loved the connection that can be found with fellow runners.
I’m currently training for the Chicago Marathon. It will be my fourth marathon and I’m really excited to see what I’m capable of this time around. Long term I just want to be that lady who’s still running when she’s 80.
How did the Sports Bra Squad movement get started?
Last summer my friends and I saw Kelly Roberts post on Instagram about running in her sports bra for the first time and it came up during a girls night. As we talked we realized we all wanted to be brave enough to run in our sports bras on hot days–and we all know there are plenty of those in Austin–but we all had some anxiety and fear about showing the world our stomachs while we ran. I think we all have this idea of what we’re “supposed” to look like to run that confidently and we didn’t feel like we met that standard. But as we talked we started encouraging each other to give it a try and then we started actually running in our sports bras with each other. I think we all felt pretty self conscious at first but together we created this really supportive, encouraging environment and we wanted to share that with other ladies. We were already putting together group runs pretty regularly so we decided to make a local sports bra squad run last summer where we encouraged everyone to come and run in their sports bras. We thought the group would probably be comprised of our friends and that’s it so we were so happy when word started to spread beyond that group! We had about 35 people at that first run and it was so exciting! Just so amazing to look around at this group of 35 women with all different body types and different running abilities all coming together. It was pretty clear this message really resonated with a lot of people! This year there were even more.
At the #SportsBraSquadATX group run you said you never thought you’d be running in a sports bra, let alone addressing a group in a sports bra. How did you find that confidence?
The whole sports bra squad experience since last summer has been transformative. There have been a few key moments that stand out. First was that initial conversation I had with my friends where we all expressed wanting to run in a sports bra but not feeling brave enough to do so. When I thought of running in my sports bra I thought of all the reasons why it wasn’t for me–all the physical “flaws” I had ran through my mind. But then I was looking at my friends–friends that I didn’t think should be insecure in the least–and they were expressing all the same insecurities I was. So I realized if I could look at them and tell them with sincerity that they should run in a sports bra if that’s what they want to do regardless of what they look like, I had to direct that message to myself as well. Secondly, in February of this year I had a moment early one morning where I was scared to weigh myself because I worried I had gained a couple pounds. Standing there in my bathroom at 6am I realized how ridiculous it was to wrap so much of my personal value up in the number on the scale because this was three days after I ran the Austin marathon. How could I be worried about a couple pounds when I had this incredibly strong body and mind that was capable of carrying me through a marathon? I made an instagram post about that moment and the response was so positive! It was a vulnerable moment to share, but I’m so glad I did because the response told me that this is a big issue for a lot of people and I was determined to share this feeling of empowerment with as many people as I can. We have to change the idea that our appearance is our value. Ultimately I just keep thinking of what I would tell other women who are insecure about their bodies and running in their sports bra and it gets me so fired up.
When is the next Sports Bra Squad run?
Sunday, August 6th. Meet at 6:45am at the Capitol, running at 7am. It will be a 3-4 mile run, route TBD. Invite anyone and everyone! Running in a sports bra isn’t required, just show up and I guarantee you’ll be inspired! Men are also welcome to join, shirt or no shirts. All paces and abilities are welcome! Here is the link to the Facebook event.
Is there anything else we should know?
Regardless of whether you run or whether you run in a sports bra, I think the message of celebrating our strength rather than focusing on appearances can apply to everyone. Work on building yourself and your friends up and you can build an empowering community.
Also, if anyone would like to hear more about our local Sports Bra Squad, how it got started, and what it means to us they can listen to our episode of the Runified podcast! Runified also did a follow up episode that includes what Teresa and I spoke about before the run along with some brief interview with others who were at the run.
- Interview by Amber Wadey.