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Here’s the Wild Idea

Mirna’s Wild Idea: To run ultra-marathons and advocate for body positivity, showing others fitness comes in many sizes.

You may have seen Mirna Valerio, “The Mirnavator.” Her video with REI had millions of views on Facebook. It starts with her reading an angry letter from a guy who wrote to her while she was doing a 50k run. He called her a “fraud,” a “liar,” and said she is not only faking running ultra-marathons, but she’s making a bad name for runners because she is overweight and doesn’t “look like a runner.” Her story was featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2015, and then was picked up by Runner’s World, NBC Nightly, CNN, and REI.

Well, Mirna can not only run, but she’s a true force of nature. She’s also a teacher, coach, diversity leader, trained opera singer, mom, wife, and recently added brand ambassador and author to her resume with her book A Beautiful Work in Progress. A few years ago, when Mirna started doing longer runs, she started the site called Fat Girl Running. There weren’t a lot of people who looked like her on the trail, and she wanted to get more people outside running.

Listening to Mirna talk is inspiring. She has an incredible outlook on the world, she laughs easily, and she isn’t afraid to go deep. We talked about diving into the uncomfortable, dealing with haters, how to create opportunities for yourself, and how you can be a runner no matter what your size, shape, or background.

Presented by REI

Listen to this Episode if

  • You want to start running.
  • You are self-conscious about your body or fitness level.
  • You need a dose of positivity.
  • You want to break out of your comfort zone.
  • You hate when people tell you that you can’t do something.

Key Takeaways

  • 3:15 – How Mirna got the wild idea to become a runner.
  • 7:30 – Where Mirna’s drive comes from.
  • 9:50 – Why Mirna runs.
  • 12:00 – How Mirna deals with pressure (she’s used to being on stage!).
  • 14:00 – Mirna takes us into her running world.
  • 16:00 – Why it’s important to take breaks.
  • 17:45 – How Mirna’s feeling about the Boston Marathon and the other opportunities she has.
  • 21:45 – How Mirna decides what projects to say yes to.
  • 23:30 – How Mirna deals with the naysayers and how you can too.
  • 25:30 – Alternatively, Mirna hears a lot of positive messages too.
  • 27:50 – The privilege of authenticity.
  • 30:50 – How to lean into discomfort (and listen to Mirna read an excerpt from her book).
  • 33:40 – Mirna’s approach to body image and body positivity.
  • 36:30 – Mirna’s advice for people who want to be active but are self-conscious.
  • 39:45 – What fashion fitness companies can do to be more inclusive.
  • 41:30 – Mirna’s advice for anyone who wants to get into running.
  • 42:50 – Why you have to actually take time to recover.
  • 43:50 – How to start training for an ultra-marathon.
  • 48:05 – Not everyone can make a living off their wild idea, but why you should still make time to do it.
  • 52:45 – Why you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Connect with Mirna



Mirna’s REI video
Boston Marathon
Podcast with Nicole de Boom


A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio

Awesome book Mirna recommends gifting

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Other Wild Ideas Worth Living episodes about running

Brogan Graham – Building Community through the November Project
Chris McDougall – Writing untold Stories of Running and Performance
Dean Karnazes – The Ultramarathon Man
Pete Kostelnick – Breaking the Record to Run Across the Country



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