Jill Angie is a running coach, triathlete and plus-sized woman’s race star who appears in Penningtons inspiring new commercial. commercial.
Based in Philadelphia and running for 20 years, Angie, 49 years old, has emerged as the face of inclusive running, a movement fully endorsed by iRun. As we put the finishing touches on our Christmas issue dedicated to women, we caught up with Angie and asked her how she forged her path.
iRun: Why do you think your commercial was able to touch so many people?
Angie: It speaks to that part of everyone, or many people at least, that thinks you have too look a certain way to be a runner. I definitely don’t look that way, so to see someone running and enjoying it and not looking like “the average runner,” gives people hope. “If she can do it maybe I can too.”
iRun: Had that mirrored your own experiences prior to shooting the clip?
Angie: For sure. I started running almost 20 years ago and when I first started I was embarrassed and didn’t want to tell anybody what I was doing because I didn’t look like a runner and thought people wouldn’t take me seriously. But the more I started running and realizing I could do what I wanted, I started realizing I needed to tell other people. Running is something anybody can do. I wanted to help other people discover what I discovered about running.
iRun: What did you discover?
Angie: You think, people are going to laugh at me and point at me, but I found that I’m so wrapped up in myself when I’m out running—and everyone else is so wrapped up in themselves—no one even notices. No one is looking at you, I promise. Nobody cares, just go do your thing.
iRun: Can something like this bleed into other areas of life?
Angie: It bleeds into all areas of your life—you do something that’s hard and then the next thing you know, you’re applying for that job that you thought was out of your reach or going to a party and talking to people when normally you would’ve sat in the corner. Running gives you this amazing confidence that you can do anything you want to do, which is super fun.
iRun: You said that when you started running, it wasn’t fun and it felt like punishment. How did you get over that hump?
Angie: When I first started I thought it would help me lose weight. That was my end game, so I kept doing it even though it felt like punishment—I was trying to do it in a way that didn’t work for my body. If I hadn’t been trying to lose weight I wouldn’t have stuck with it as long as I did. But I wasn’t losing the weight through running, maybe 10 pounds, but I realized my body feels better when I do this. So I started running for a different reason and, lo and behold, the running became a thing of its own.
iRun: And how did it feel?
Angie: Fun! I was choosing to be a runner because I enjoyed it, not because it was something I thought I had to do.
iRun: You can be a runner at any size, shape or age. What barriers do you think people erect?
Angie: When you look at a typical running magazine or any of the advertisements geared toward getting people into running, they always show really thin people who look like they can run a 6-minute mile without breaking a sweat. It’s changing, somewhat, but 90% of the images we see are of people who are much thinner than me, so you assume if you’re not exposed at all to the different possibilities, you think the only possibility is what you see in front of your face. That’s my mission in life—to show all people that running is a possibility and they can choose it whenever they want.
iRun: You’re a plus-sized runner and certified running coach. What differences exist when it comes to training plan for a woman who is plus-sized?
Angie: Free training programs you download or the group runs at your running store start you farther along then you should be. I’ve taken those training courses and found that the expectation that within six weeks you can run for 30 minutes is unrealistic, especially if you’re plus sized. We literally have more weight to carry which slows us down, that’s just physics, its not a moral judgement. I had to figure out a way to train that I wouldn’t be discouraged. Couch to 5K, that’s a really unrealistic training plan and people get discouraged. I do the Couch to 5K dropouts, and know what? When we take matters into our own hands, we get there in the end.
iRun: Is it hard being the face of a movement?
Angie: It’s my obligation, to lead this charge because it’s not just about running, it’s about empowering women; it’s about confidence and understanding how powerful we are. With everything going in the world, however I can help people learn those lessons about themselves, and feel good about themselves, is exactly what I want to do with my life.
iRun: I like that last line in your commercial. “I’ve earned the right to call myself a runner.” What must someone do to earn that right?
Angie: They just need go outside and put one their shoes.