I was talking to a running buddy recently when she let a pretty wild sentence slip. After mentioning that she sometimes felt out of place at local races, she explained, “It’s because I just don’t look like a runner.”

“Of course you do!” I immediately responded. But silently, my thoughts were spinning. My friend has finished multiple marathons, as well as a 50-miler, and wakes up before sunrise every Sunday to run on trails an hour from her home. If she doesn’t look like a runner, I thought, then what do I look like?

In hindsight, we were both being delusional. But I don’t think we are alone in our craziness. How many times have you heard other women (or yourself) start sentences with “I look like” or “I don’t look like”? I’d guess upwards of a million. In our hearts, we know this isn’t a healthy perspective, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. We all need the occasional reminder that we’re strong, beautiful running goddesses.

That’s exactly why I couldn’t be happier to have featured a real-life Women’s Running reader on our cover last year. Dorothy Beal isn’t an Olympic athlete or a movie star. She’s a mom of three from Virginia who entered our Skechers Cover Model Contest on a whim. After thousands of votes from our readers, she was selected the winner.

I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with Dorothy, and learned so many fascinating things about her life. Ready for a surprise? Dorothy doesn’t think she looks like a runner either! (She told me this, by the way, while in the midst of kicking my butt during a 12-mile run.) Ten years ago, Dorothy was overweight, smoked and drank heavily — now she’s a 20-time marathon finisher. Oh, and those amazing abs? They’re a product of pushing a triple jogging stroller up steep hills every day.

Remember, looking like a runner is a fantasy. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. We’re short, tall, thick and skinny. We’re 85-year-old grandmas; we’re six-month pregnant moms-to-be; we’re thousands of women lacing up our shoes for the very first time. If you run, you are a runner — when you’re charging down the street, no one is going to think you look like anything less.

Do you call yourself “a runner”?

Girl on the Run provides real-life training tips brought to you by Jessie Sebor, an accomplished endurance athlete who practices what she preaches. Sebor uses her column to provide tips, advice and guidance for runners—no matter their experience or pace. She shares more information and training plans through her magazine WomensRunning.com and on Twitter as @JessieSebor.