‘Big Girls Who Run’: Danielle Burnett's Journey to Inspire and Empower


, by Fabienne Lang

Photography courtesy of: Danielle Burnett

Discover the inspiring journey of Danielle Burnett, founder of Big Girls Who Run, as she motivates women of all sizes to embrace running and join her inclusive Strava club. Read about her infectious enthusiasm, and how the RISE 'N RUN Challenge will help everyone celebrate movement – without focusing on pace or distance.

At sundown on a warm May evening in Los Angeles, a woman in a black sports bra and matching leggings jogs through a quiet suburban neighborhood. Her face glows with a light sheen of sweat, and she is beaming. “I just ran my fastest 5K ever,” she says, her smile infectious.

She is sharing her proud moment with her hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. Her name is Danielle Burnett. She is the founder of the Strava running club Big Girls Who Run and she is inspiring people everywhere to embrace running – no matter their pace, figure, or experience.

JOIN THE CHALLENGE: RISE 'N RUN with Danielle Burnett

“I’m a bigger runner and I never saw myself in the running space,” Danielle candidly shares.

“My fiancé got me into running. He runs a ton. I never really thought I could run but he came home one day and said he ran six miles. Something came over me and I also wanted to run six miles,” she explains. “It took a while for me to get there and I had to train a lot, but I got there. He was the motivator for me.”

Danielle was also driven by a desire to find something more engaging than just going to the gym. “I wanted to find something that would have me looking forward, be part of a community, and not so focused on my body,” she says.

Having become a runner for almost a year now, Danielle consistently documents every aspect of her journey online, hoping to inspire others. Picking up the baton from her fiancé, she leads by example, sharing her newfound passion for running with a bubbly, sweet personality that resonates with her followers.

JOIN the Big Girls Who Run Strava Club

“I didn’t see much representation in the running space and that’s what motivated me once I started running. I also realized the impact I was having on the running scene,” Danielle explains.

“Many women responded to my content really excitedly. I realized there was a space and this underrepresented pace marker that isn’t very talked about, and I started realizing there was this need for it. I really cater towards realistic running and just being able to make it feel achievable and accessible.”

Now, she proudly states: “I’m Danielle, and I run.”

I realized there was a space and this underrepresented pace marker that isn’t very talked about, and I started realizing there was this need for it.

As she continues her running journey to include as many people as possible in the sport, she has partnered with Strava to create her own run club called Big Girls Who Run.

Big Girls Who Run Strava Club

“I started the club because I wanted more representation for people who have slower paces,” Danielle explains. “I personally run a 16-minute pace, sometimes 17 when I’m feeling real slow. I’m trying to normalize that that’s ok. You don’t have to be the fastest person out there, you can just move your body.”

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“All paces are welcome, all paces are good paces. All movement is good movement – that is my ethos and what Big Girls Who Run is all about,” she continues.

The club’s first meetup was on June 1st in Long Beach, Los Angeles. The group ran two miles on flat roads and walkers were very much welcome. The club will continue to meet on a monthly basis, combining running and community hangouts. “This is a run club I would actually join, and I’ve never been to a run club before. I never felt like there was a run club that fit my vibe,” she explains.

Photography courtesy of: Danielle Burnett

For those apprehensive about starting running, Danielle speaks from experience when she advises: “To be easy on yourself because running is really hard. People don’t talk about how hard it is but it is and it takes time to build endurance.”

“You need more time than you think you do to build that endurance,” she candidly shares. “When you start you shouldn’t expect to be able to run a 5K, because that is not going to happen. And that’s ok! It’s about setting your ego aside and allowing for that growth to happen and seeing the progress that happens.” As all good things in life, patience and consistency are key.

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But Wait, There’s More

Danielle’s enthusiasm for movement and community shines through in yet another project: her Strava RISE ‘N RUN challenge to focus on having fun and moving your body in July.

“The goal of this challenge is to get people moving more, especially during the summer when you typically have a little more time on your hands. I love that this is a running-focused challenge but it’s also ok for people to walk it. There is no set pace, there is no set mileage, it’s just about how many hours you can bank moving,” Danielle shares, excitedly.

You don’t have to be the fastest person out there, you can just move your body.

“I think movement is the key. Movement is medicine. So I’m really excited about this challenge because it feels so in line with my ethos, which is getting people out there to move their bodies.”

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The challenge kicks off on July 1, so start logging your activity throughout the month and more importantly, have fun doing it. Alongside that, why not check out Big Girls Who Run and make some new LA running friends? Who knows, you might bump into Danielle jogging through LA, all smiles and bouncy curls, inspiring everyone to get active.

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