Have you ever dreamed of running a marathon? Perhaps you’ve imagined yourself gloriously crossing the finish line after months of training, collecting your medal and collapsing into the arms of your supporters.
Not too long ago, this powerful moment was not possible for women. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman in history to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entrant. She managed to slip through registration by disguising her gender, signing up as “K.V. Switzer”. She was tackled mid-race by a trainer in street clothes who objected to a woman participating in the race. She dusted herself off and ran on.
What’s holding you back?
Barriers for women in running and other sports still exist on many levels. Often these are external, such as a lack of options for girls in athletic programs, sexual harassment, or safety issues, like running alone. And many barriers for female athletes are internal or have been internalized. Have you ever felt that you had the wrong body for sports? Too skinny, too heavy, too weak, too slow? Did you shy away from sports because you felt like it wasn’t feminine?
Some of these issues affect men and others are more specific to women-athletes. It’s tough to get motivated to get sweaty if your head is full of voices telling you why you can’t or shouldn’t do it. We feel your pain. But the sooner you start, the faster you’ll outrun your critics.
What can you do to feel empowered?
We’ve got a few ideas to help you get started; you can make a difference for yourself and others.
1. Join a group
If you struggle to find the confidence to get started running or training, one place to look for support is in a fitness community. You’ll find like-minded people to work out with who will encourage you to keep going, and you might even make some new friends. Find an adidas Runners community nearby with mixed pace running groups, race training, running drills, or whatever else you’re after. Get friends to put together a team and sign up for a relay marathon.
2. Get informed
Do some research about how to get started as a beginner. Have you been running for a while, but you’re looking for a new goal? Read about what to keep in mind as a woman preparing for a half marathon.
3. Talk to the people in your life
Whether it’s your dad, aunt, son, or partner, talk to the people you know and love about your experiences and needs in the world. The more we become aware of how people’s behavior affects our self confidence, sense of safety, or – in a family setting – something as simple as having time for sports, the closer we will get to equality for women in sports.
Take back your autonomy and be safe
If you prefer to run alone, it doesn’t mean you are relegated to the treadmill at the gym. There are plenty of ways to get out there and enjoy the fresh air by yourself. Just keep your safety in mind, especially if you want to run in the dark.
A Brighter Future for Women in Sports
Throughout history female athletes have worked hard to create more opportunities for the generations after them. Remember, every time you lace up your shoes and get out there, you might be inspiring others to do the same. Keep up the great work and support other women and girls in their effort to stay active.