Friday, March 8, 2013

Being a Female Runner

When I am running for hours upon end during my long runs on the weekend, sometimes the oddest things will pop into my brain. Usually things like food, running, friends, family, and/or plans coming up tend to hold most of my brain space, but on my run this past weekend, I had something else come up: being a female runner. Sounds a bit weird, right? It's pretty obvious that I'm a female who runs, so what did I think about for a long time? I thought about my attitude being a female runner and how that's changed.

I will preface this by saying I'm not a super active feminist. Do I hope that women have equal rights to men, have ownership of their bodies, and more? Of course! I just don't happen to make it my #1 cause. I care a lot about other social issues that I feel need more attention and/or I am more passionate about. I know some women will think I'm the worst for that, but that's okay. This is how I feel, hence me writing this on my blog. I promise for less controversial talk in the future.
Me, freshman year of college after a 5k
When I was in high school and early on in college, I cared more about looking like a real runner and didn't particularly dress in a feminine matter. I feared dressing in a feminine way would make me look weaker or less like a tried and true tough runner. I do understand how sexist it is for me to think looking like a girl could make me look weak, but that's how I felt I would be looked upon by people around me. Screwed up? Yes. The truth? Yes.

This didn't necessarily manifest in dressing like a boy, per se, but not choosing the most feminine clothes to run in. I'd avoid pink tank tops and choose to wear a t-shirt instead. When running skirts first became popular, I scoffed at the idea of running in a skirt. Who is that high maintenance that they must wear a skirt and be super girly at all times? I hated the shirts I saw girls wear that said, "I don't sweat, I glisten." No, you sweat. Everyone does.

Things have changed, though. I don't know if it was me being insecure before and gaining confidence or what, but I actually have started to really enjoy dressing feminine while running. I look for cute clothes to run in that make me feel feminine and show off that I'm a lady (I couldn't deal putting down woman. I feel far too immature to be one!). Hell, I've run a marathon in a tutu and one in a dress.

Me before the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon
I started realizing that if I continue to play into what I think other people will think, I will perpetuate that thought myself. I also realized that if being considered weaker or the underdog was going to occur, why not take that as a chance to show people up? I've shown up to races, hair in pigtail braids (less knotting this way, but it also makes me feel more girly), and been underestimated for what I can do. When it's over and I've beaten a lot of people, I smile all the way home.

I still have some of those old thoughts (I will never glisten! I'm a girl and I sweat, proudly), but I've learned to 1) care less what other think, and 2) learn that I can help shape how others think. I can be strong AND feminine any day of the week.