Each of Erin Azar’s runs from his home in central Pennsylvania begins with a climb. And it makes him want to die.
Her Sisyphus fight has, to her surprise, caused a stir on TikTok, where she is known as Ms. Space Cadet.
“One of the first times I posted a race on TikTok, it was viewed over a million times, and I was like, ‘This is weird,'” she said. “All I saw on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube were skinny runners with really cute outfits and really cute shoes, running for seven or eight minute miles.”
This is not how Azar would describe himself.
In one of those early videos, Azar wears a sweatshirt, nursing bra, shoes with holes, and glasses that mist up when she runs. She invited her subscribers to join her, “a slightly overweight person who drinks too much beer”, as she tried to train for a marathon. “Today we have four miles, help,” she told the camera unmoved.
This journey began about two years ago. She has since driven hundreds of miles and garnered over 617,000 subscribers on TikTok.
The 37-year-old mother-of-three documented her 15-mile runs with her loyal “support team” (that would be three trees in a row), admitted when she had to pee halfway, said shared how she struggles with what she calls “Barf Hill” and explained the awkwardness of passing walkers when their pace is close to hers.
She has not yet had the experience of crossing the finish line of an organized marathon. (In a TikTok, she begins, “It’s seven in the morning and we’re going to run 12 miles because I’m training for a marathon that has been canceled. And it’s raining. Think of it as a little adventure, come on.” )
Other than that – 23.7 million likes later – the pandemic hasn’t done much to slow it down.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
When did you start running and what do you think shocked TikTok?
This whole social media thing came out of nowhere for me. It wasn’t my goal to become a content creator.
I just had my third baby and was mentally and physically in the landfill. I felt like I just had to go out and run. I didn’t have a gym or anything, and I thought, I’m going to film this, just want to remember where I am at this point.
The amount of support I felt towards myself was amazing, but the amount of support other people felt too – “Hey, I’m that way too” – really made me cry.
Why did you decide to continue publishing?
I have no humility. I don’t know why – my husband thinks I’m crazy – but I don’t care 100%. I’m not going to clean my house to shoot a video. I’m not going to! And that’s what I put there.
I thought I was too slow to even call myself a runner. Immediately after this video, I saw a huge untouched space that I felt needed to be touched in order to empower more people. I used to feel really isolated, but I realized that there were a lot of people like me.
I felt like the really organized flows kept people from feeling like they could run or try to run or train in any way. That’s why I kept posting.
One of your most popular moves is your race dress pose of the day, where you stand in a position that looks like… Gumby? To explain.
People wanted to follow me on Instagram, but I had never really posed for a photo.
So what was I supposed to do with my hands? Do I sit down? Do I take a snapshot of myself running? I was so upset and fed up that I just said how I thought it would really show my outfit. It was as opposite as I could get from an Instagram model.
And now people are tagging me on their Instagram photos with this pose. People are so funny and positive.
What does greater representation of different types of athletes mean to you on and off social media?
Much of my platform is trying to engage businesses, not only to advertise different body types and different groups of people with different abilities, but also to support them through social media and empowerment. community, so those tired moms who haven’t run in 20 years can look at someone and be like, “Oh, that looks comfy” or “These shorts look like my thighs won’t get irritated in it ”or“ Maybe I belong to those. “
These companies are looking for people who are not Olympians. It’s not just Olympians who need electrolytes.
What advice do you have for new runners?
I would say, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Just stay consistent and go as slowly as you want, just to create that habit. And build that habit even if it’s a walk a few times a week, have these little wins to celebrate.
And instead of “I only ran one mile” or “I can only run one mile,” crop it. “I can run a mile.” It’s huge! Do you know how many people can’t run a mile? Just be proud of the small victories, because they will allow you to be successful.