We are bombarded with pictures of what society deems beautiful people – everyday we scroll through social media past images of rock hard abs and skinny legs, only to look up and be confronted by an advert depicting a sweatless woman who supposedly just finished a run.

The constant reaffirming of beauty standards can contradict what a useful body looks like, and when sportspeople are chasing athletic metrics over aesthetic metrics they can be forced to defy social norms.

LISTEN: The Adventure Trails, episode three: Body image in sport

In this week’s The Adventure Trail podcast, we talk to ultra runner Samantha Chan, who was once asked to stop running by a boyfriend, and crossfitter Bobbie Poulton who had brief social media hiatus and felt more confident in her body.

The Adventure Trail podcast, episode one: John Ellis talks pain in ultra marathons and how to deal with it


Women in particular are under pressure to conform to beauty standards and both guests share stories of passing comments, even from those closest to them, about the way elite sport is changing the way they look.

The Adventure Trail podcast, episode two: Valerie Lagarde talks gender diversity in trail running and how to fix it

But both are inspiring in their commitment to their sporting goals and show that sport can be a prelude to changing perceptions about what women should do and how they should look.

But men too face pressure, and chase the ideal bulging body builder’s look, even if the hulking mass of muscle does not translate to being useful in a sporting context.

The Adventure Trail podcast is hosted by Mark Agnew and Mary Hui. They interview a range of outdoor and extreme sports athletes, focusing on topics from pain to gender and all things adventure-related in trail running and beyond.