Mirna Valerio (aka “The Mirnavator”) has been writing her “Fat Girl Running” blog, about being an “active larger girl in a thinner world,” since 2011, but it wasn’t until recently that the popularity of her blog, and her voice, has skyrocketed. Valerio has been interviewed for Runner’s World, People, The Huffington Post, NBC Nightly News and National Geographic (just to name a few), and now writes for Women’s Health magazine. An ultrarunner, high-school Spanish teacher and cross-country coach, Valerio recently authored a book, A Beautiful Work in Progress.

An overweight black woman, Valerio is a diversity advocate, who confronts multiple stereotypes with every step: that women are quieter, apologetic and less bullheaded and that overweight people are depressed, self-conscious and lethargic.

When have you been the most afraid?
I have a deep-seated fear of thunderstorms. Last year, during the Finger Lakes Fifties 50K, it stormed for a couple of hours and as someone who is typically alone and/or last during races, I found myself in a dark ravine at the height of a storm. The thunder was so loud and menacing, I thought I would get struck by lightning. But then, I thought, well, if I die out on the trails, I would have died in my happy place.

Imagine someone is writing a book on the history of trail running, and you only get one paragraph. How do you want to be remembered?
I would love to be remembered as the woman whose sheer love of being out on the trail allowed other folks to envision themselves there, too.

Do you prefer trail running to road running?
Yes, trail running allows me to connect with nature in the most basic of human ways. It enlivens all of my senses, and forces me to stay present and aware, not just of rocks, roots, branches and wildlife—it also requires that I am aware of my own body in space. I constantly have to make adjustments in order to remain upright and to keep moving forward.

What would you like to see change in the trail-running culture?
The only thing I would like to see change is the sport’s image to the uninitiated. From the outside, it looks like it’s this exclusive club for thin white dudes with long hair, but it really is way more inclusive and embracing than it seems.
I’d love for others to experience what I experience when busting my butt out there on the trail. The community is awesome and inviting, and the aid stations and views ... well, it’s a perfect sport.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I am a classically trained singer, and I can rock out on some Verdi and Puccini!

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Keith BeldenDavid WhitmireDebFireflyVern Eastley Recent comment authors
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Jerry
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Wow, great interview, amazing outlook — very inspiring!

Bill McConnell
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Bill McConnell

Good for you! We’d love to see you on one of the PATRAIL dogs’ races!

Deb
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Deb

Thank you. Thank you for following your passion. Thank you for sharing your love of the most empowering sport. Thank you.

Charleen Jones
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Charleen Jones

Thank you for inspiring all of us women to seek our passion for trail running. Loved your interview. Hope to see you at the races.

Lisa Cunningham
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Lisa Cunningham

Love it! As a slow but steady runner I so appreciate your thoughts on the sport. What you express is in clear alignment with my personal experiences regarding connection to the earth, environment, and soul. I am not even that fat, and I’m white, but have long been a back/end of the pack runner and I often hear “well, at least you finished,” or see confused faces when I finish dead last with a strong stride and a big smile on my face. Thank you for your advocacy and voice.

Vern Eastley
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Vern Eastley

Not only is Myrna a classically trained singer, she is an extraordinarily talented one. When she spoke in Sandpoint, Idaho she began by singing. We were all completely captivated. She is a beautiful person and a fantastic advocate for our sport.

Firefly
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Firefly

Thank you, Mirna for being an inspiration to this overweight 64 yr old. I am learning your appearance is not what makes you a runner—it is what is in your heart and soul. Thanks for helping me realize that—time to hit the trails !

Deb
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Deb

I am currently reading/listening to Mirna’s book. I too have always been short for my weight. A 3 time Ironman finisher, I still felt so “not an athlete”, I’m older, I’m heavier and not as “beautiful” as most athletes. After listening to Mirna’s story, I was left asking myself, in Mirna’s voice, of course, “WHAT THE F IS WRONG WITH YOU, DEB?!” God gave me legs that can run forever, albeit slow, but what the heck?! I love running and I love running trails, so why let what I think OTHER people might think about me be a stop sign?!… Read more »

David Whitmire
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David Whitmire

Love to run a race with Mirna in the mix. Makes me happy to know she’s out there

Keith Belden
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Keith Belden

Inspiring! Thank you for the great insights into the trail running culture.