Women And Running

There is a great new running (and everything else that goes along with running!) website that I contribute postst to: RunSynergistic. Check them out, and read my first post below:

 

Women and running

This one is for the women out there. The women who have fought for our rights, proven they can do things when told they couldn’t, didn’t back down because they believed in themselves, other women and their rights, freedom and ability to live how we (women) wanted to live. I have been thinking a lot about these things lately, and maybe it is because it is Women’s History Month or maybe because I have become OBSESSED with the podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You. Either way, I believe it is so important for us women to know our history. Understand what women have gone through to help us get where we are today, and understand we are still fighting that fight. Today, on this last day of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize women and their contribution to running.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned women weren’t allowed to enter races. I was shocked to learn this. There was apparently “scientific” information that running long distance could cause infertility in women. You know, all that shaking of the uterus or some bs like that. In February 2012, when I ran my first race (a 10k), then training for my first Marathon in December of that same year, it never occurred to me, had I been alive 41 years earlier I would not have been allowed to enter a race.

But I can run races. I am able to because of women like Bobbi Gibb, who was a “bandit” at the 1966 Boston Marathon. Jumping out of some bushes to run the race, back in the day when women were told they were not capable of running a marathon. 60 years later, we all know that women are bad ass and CAN run a marathon, and this year at Boston she will be the Grand Marshal.

Then  there is Katherine Switzer , who ran the Boston Marathon in 1967, a year after Bobbi. Katherine had a race official try to stop her from running, grabbing her sweater, trying to rip her bib off of her. He was unsuccessful at stopping her and she finished the race. You are probably familiar with the infamous picture of her during this race. It is because of women like Bobbi and Katherine that the ban of women running races was eventually lifted.

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In 1972, when women were finally allowed to run Boston (75 years after the first Boston Marathon) Nina Kuscsik  became the first female to win, with a time of 3:10:26. She is also one of the women who, along with Katherine Switzer, protested at the 1972 New York City Marathon. While they were allowed to run the NYC Marathon, they had to start 10 minutes before the men. So when the gun went off for the women to start, they sat down. On the start line, holding signs to protest the discrimination of the Amateur Athletic Union. When the gun went off at 11:10am for the men to start, the women got up and started the race too. The officials ended up adding 10 minutes to each of the women’s finish times.

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Back in the day, which was only like 50 years ago, women were told that running was risky and unlady like. We have come a long way since then and women in running are now celebrated. But we still have so far to go. Luckily I am surrounded by a supportive running community, friends and family. As for other aspects of my training, particularly lifting weights, and I don’t mean your cute, pink little 2 lb hand weights, I have been told things similar to it not being ladylike. And to that I say, I don’t give a fuck. If running has taught me anything it is that I am so much stronger, both physically and mentally than I ever thought I was. I don’t need others to put me in their little box of what they think women should be.

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Since I began running in 2011 I have always loved it. Yes it is hard, yes sometimes I want to sleep  instead of go for a morning run. I have races and training runs that suck but I still love lacing up my Altras and getting out on the road or trails. After learning of women’s history in running I always remember to be thankful for my ability to run and to be thankful for the women before me who made it possible to cross those finish lines, wear my medals and celebrate my PRs. It is because of them that I have so many amazing lady friends that will be running the Boston Marathon in 18 days, and one day I will too. Women running races may seem like a trivial thing to some, but it goes way beyond running races. Ask almost any runner how running has changed their life and you will realize that. So let’s not forget those who ran before us. Celebrate them with each run you do.

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