How Marathoner Allie Kieffer Bucked the Scale and Improved Her Running

Runner Allie Kieffer runs in the 2017 New York City Marathon

Despite the popular opinion, a lighter weight does not mean a faster time. And the ideal “runner’s body” does not have to be a wispy frame. Along with her new sponsor, ASICS, elite marathoner and nutritionist Allie Kieffer is making strides to change how runners see their own bodies.

After years of wrestling with an ideal—read: lightest—race weight that often left her fatigued or injured, Kieffer made a breakthrough: running her best meant being strong, not skinny. Kieffer now preaches the new mantra on her Instagram, where she’s candid about her struggles with weight and body image, and she uses her platform as an elite athlete to encourage other runners to run strong.

“I want to be the person I wish I had to look up to in my formative years to help others through the same struggles I’ve had,” she says.

Now, Kieffer’s not only posting blazing-fast times (like her 2:28 at the 2018 New York City Marathon), but she’s doing it without conforming to any runner stereotype.

Recently, we sat Down with Kieffer to find out more:

ASICS athlete Allie Kieffer poses for a photo

Fleet Feet: You’ve done a lot to promote strong over skinny. Why is it so important to you that you create a new body paradigm for runners? And why do you think this is an important shift for running culture in general?

Allie Kieffer: Unfortunately running can put an unnecessary emphasis on conforming to irrational body standards. It’s been meaningful to disrupt that norm and prove that I don’t have to fit someone else’s stereotypes to run fast. I’ve emphasized being strong over skinny because strength represents more than the physical. Running is also about our mindset, our attitude and our confidence.

FF: Can you talk a little bit about your evolution when it comes to your relationship with the number on the scale? As an athlete, why is it important to take a step back from this?

AK: The longer I run the more obvious it becomes that my fastest times aren’t linear to my lightest weight.

FF: You signed with ASICS (2019). What are you most excited about when it comes to working with the brand?

AK: ASICS was the first shoe I ever ran in. So, I’m excited to be working with the company whose shoes I wore when I first fell in love with running. Also, partnering with a progressive brand like ASCIS is meaningful to me. Their campaign The New Strong celebrates the strength of women!

FF: What are your Favorite training shoes and racing shoes?

AK: Training shoe: ASICS Gel-Cumulus

Racing shoe: ASICS SortieMagic

FF: If you could give young competitive runners one piece of advice, what would it be?

AK: Work hard but know your results don’t represent your worth.

FF: What does it mean to you to SHOW UP and COMMIT to something?

AK: If I decide to do something, I’m all in. For better or worse, I live, eat, sleep and breathe it.

FF: What strategies do you use to stay positive under pressure?

AK: Pressure comes from what others think about me and what I’m doing. So, I replace the negative connotation with the belief that others are supporting me.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

By Ashley Arnold. Ashley is a storyteller, ultrarunner and cat person. As Fleet Feet’s content marketing manager, she manages the Fleet Feet blog and its roster of writers.

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