Instagram Rachele Schulist

There is a body stereotype associated with an elite long-distance runner: Thin. Very thin.

All-American Rachele Schulist of Michigan State says this is sending the wrong message that runners need to restrict their weight to compete at a high level.

"The idea that you have to look a certain way and be thin to be a fast runner is bulls***," she says.

After finishing 12th this year at the NCAA National Champinoships in Terre Haute, Indiana, the redshirt senior recounted her own personal struggle in a powerful Instagram post:


Left:NCAA 2014. Right: NCAA 2016. Look at the picture on the left. If in your mind this is what a "good" or competitive distance runner looks like, please, keep reading. The truth is I was very unhealthy. My teammates and coaches will tell you that I was not happy; I was disengaged with my teammates and missing out on life. My coaches warned me about the consequences of running in this unhealthy state, but seeing as my running was going well I ignored them and figured they were wrong. And in the fall of 2015 I paid for it when I found I had a stress fracture. Last year consisted for the most part of training in a pool and sitting on the sidelines while the rest of my teammates got to train and compete. Slowly my body healed and I could start to run again. But mentally, another battle had begun. Even though I knew being too small is not sustainable, it was hard for me to believe that I could achieve success and be the runner I used to be without it, and I allowed myself to believe this for the better part of this season. My coaches told me time and time again that I am still the same runner as 2014, just stronger now and have the talent to be successful, but whenever I looked back at what I used to be I was discouraged all over again. The better part of this season I allowed this lie to dictate my running, and my running suffered as a consequence. The day before our conference meet I was so discouraged and worn down from beating myself up I could only lay in bed, and decided that after this meet I was going to give up and quit running because I doubted I could ever be good again without being unhealthy. My coach could tell from my race plan that I was not mentally engaged and the night before Big Tens called me in to talk. He asked me at what point I was going to draw a line in the sand and put an end to whatever was holding me back from running the way I know I can. So I did. Because the truth is, the idea that you have to look a certain way and be thin to be a fast runner is bullshit. It's a lie that a lot of people in the running community buy into. (Continued in comments)

A photo posted by Rachele Schulist (@racheleschulist) on

Here's the full text, including the addition in the comments:

Left: NCAA 2014. Right: NCAA 2016. Look at the picture on the left. If in your mind this is what a "good" or competitive distance runner looks like, please, keep reading. The truth is I was very unhealthy. My teammates and coaches will tell you that I was not happy; I was disengaged with my teammates and missing out on life. My coaches warned me about the consequences of running in this unhealthy state, but seeing as my running was going well I ignored them and figured they were wrong. And in the fall of 2015 I paid for it when I found I had a stress fracture. Last year consisted for the most part of training in a pool and sitting on the sidelines while the rest of my teammates got to train and compete. Slowly my body healed and I could start to run again. But mentally, another battle had begun. Even though I knew being too small is not sustainable, it was hard for me to believe that I could achieve success and be the runner I used to be without it, and I allowed myself to believe this for the better part of this season. My coaches told me time and time again that I am still the same runner as 2014, just stronger now and have the talent to be successful, but whenever I looked back at what I used to be I was discouraged all over again. The better part of this season I allowed this lie to dictate my running, and my running suffered as a consequence. The day before our conference meet I was so discouraged and worn down from beating myself up I could only lay in bed, and decided that after this meet I was going to give up and quit running because I doubted I could ever be good again without being unhealthy. My coach could tell from my race plan that I was not mentally engaged and the night before Big Tens called me in to talk. He asked me at what point I was going to draw a line in the sand and put an end to whatever was holding me back from running the way I know I can. So I did. Because the truth is, the idea that you have to look a certain way and be thin to be a fast runner is bullshit. It's a lie that a lot of people in the running community buy into. Someone may be able to run really well and be successful while being unhealthy for a while, but it is not sustainable. And it is not fun. So I made myself just let go. I let go to the insecurities and lies I was telling myself because I know who I am and what I stand for. And I stand for doing what is right and what is healthy. I represent Michigan State University and my coaches, and if I truly trust them I had to believe that I was not only as good as I was in 2014, but stronger. Racing at Nationals was the best race of the season because I had fun and was able to just race and compete without battling myself the whole way. I was not 4th place like I was in 2014, and some people may see that as a failure, but anyone who is close to me knows that that race represented way more than any measured outcome. I was within only 12 seconds from 2014 - while being at my healthiest - and truly believe I can be better as the year progresses. I know I will only keep improving because my body is healthy and will be able to sustain and get stronger with training. I am beyond thankful for my teammates who continued to believe in me throughout the year, and my coaches who encourage healthy runners and a healthy lifestyle. This is my journey and I am proud of it and who I am. Trust yourself, embrace yourself, and have confidence in yourself, because if you do, you can never lose.

In 2014, Schulist finished fourth at nationals, the best individual finish in Michigan State program history, and the Spartans won their first cross country national title. Despite the success, Schulist admitted to being "very unhealthy' and "not happy."

Schulist was sidelined for much of 2015 due to an injury she sustained. The mental battle to return back to the sport this season was her biggest barrier.

"Even though I knew being too small is not sustainable, it was hard for me to believe that I could achieve success and be the runner I used to be without it," Schulist writes.

After earning her second All-American honors last month, Schulist looks to build upon this performance while spreading awareness that you do not have to look a certain way be a fast runner.

Her powerful words are being spread across the web and throughout the running community.


Running for Northwestern from 2012-2015, Megan O'Brien competed against Schulist in the Big Ten. Follow Megan O'Brien on Twitter @MeganOBsports.

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