TikTok star Erin Azar admits when she's struggling to maintain her fitness routine and embraces her imperfections — unusual traits on social media, but ones that have made her an inspiration to many.
About two years ago, the mom who had recently welcomed her third child decided that she was so overwhelmed that she was willing to try anything that might help, even exercise.
"I was feeling insane in the membrane. Insane in the brain. And I felt like getting out to exercise would help," Azar, 37, explained in one TikTok clip. "I tried running one mile. It was hard, super hard, but afterwards I felt like a little sense of relief. And I kept going and decided to run a marathon because why start small?"
"Good morning, here's another installment of a slightly overweight person who drinks too much beer trying to train for a marathon," she once joked on TikTok.
"I'm known here on TikTok for struggle running — and struggle life-ing," she added in another.
On more than one occasion, a marathon that Azar signed up for got canceled, but she keeps training.
In fact, next month, she's running an 18-mile race in New Jersey, not far from her home in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. "I thought, 'My marathon was canceled, I'll sign up for that. At least hopefully I can run with real people,'" she said in an interview on TODAY Wednesday.
That Azar's become such a sensation is "insane. I don't understand," she added. "Before I started all this, on social media, it was perfect-looking runners, perfect paces, and I thought, I'm just going to show thigh-chafing and the ugly side of things. What's the worst that can happen? They don't like me."
It turned out that many of her followers liked her so much that they started running, too. Now, in some ways, Azar feels like this journey is her calling.
"I started getting all these comments and messages saying, 'You inspired me to run my first mile,' or, 'You inspired me to sign up for a 5K,'" she said. "I never thought I'd inspire anybody to do anything, so that was huge for me. I'm going to keep going."
She especially relates to her followers who feel defeated before they even try.
"That's where I started, and that's why I started posting because I'm like, I need to find someone that looks like me and runs a little slow," Azar recalled.
"That is my advice: Don't look at anybody else. Look at where you are and how you're running, and honestly don't even compare yourself to yourself because you might have a really good run and then a bad run. But just stick with it, it's so worth it."