Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.
Just about every day since June, a new story has emerged with regard to allegations of doping in athletics. I’ve featured this several times in Friday Finds, and it’s a story that is by no means over yet. But today, I want to counter all that negativity by highlighting some stories of women doing fantastic things to inspire, motivate and challenge themselves and others. After all, getting more women involved in sport is one of my passions.
Part of the inspiration for this post comes from The Independent, which earlier this week published its first power list of the 50 most influential women in sport. Running the full gamut of involvement whether as a participant or in more strategic role, it’s a pretty comprehensive list. That’s all well and good, but it’s not just those in a position of power who can influence, you only have to look at the average marathon or similar endurance event to find ordinary people pushing their limits. And sometimes, that’s even more inspiring.
The recent #ThisGirlCan campaign has done much to highlight the issue of encouraging more women to get involved in sport, and the campaign website features all kinds of articles to help inspire and keep us all on track. As has been well publicised, fear of judgement is cited time and time again as a barrier to participation, hence why it was so pleasing to see the US edition of Women’s Running feature a plus-size model on the cover recently. In a similar vein, the winner of the blog category in the 2015 Running Awards was The Fat Girl’s Guide to Running, a running resource specifically aimed at plus-size female runners, currently working in partnership with the This Girl Can campaign. And in this post featured on the website Empowering Women, the creator of the blog sets out just why we can all lace up.
Also challenging attitudes to female runners is Lindsey Swift. Heard of her? She’s the Barnsley woman whose Facebook post of an open letter to the driver who heckled her whilst out running has gone viral. Her attitude is fantastic, pointing out that everybody has to start somewhere, precisely the point that many people tend to overlook. Not everybody can be an Olympic athlete, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all better ourselves and make positive changes. I wish Swift all the best for her continued training.
But it’s not just in running that tenacious women are taking the bull by the horns, as this recent story featured on the BBC shows. 18 months ago, Alex Goodier decided it was high time she lost weight and got fitter. Before she knew it, she was signing up to the sprint distance at the Blenheim Palace triathlon, despite not having ridden a bike since she was a child and being frankly petrified of open water swimming. Undaunted, she set about training, overcoming a number of hurdles along the way to get her to race day. And despite being the last one to cross the finish line, Goodier is thrilled to have met her challenge and is a great example of the fact that it’s never too late to get involved in sport and anyone can give it a go.
I also want to draw your attention to two women I have come across who are doing fantastic things to motivate and inspire others. First up, Sophie Radcliffe whose blog Challenge Sophie has been featured on a previous Friday Finds. Adventurer Sophie is “on a mission to show that challenges in the great outdoors are accessible and achievable for everyone.” I always enjoy reading her blog posts and was particularly struck by this recent post which focuses on the power of the mind, using her participation in the recent Race to the Stones ultramarathon as as example. Proof indeed of this quotation from my favourite movie, Back to the Future: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
And on the subject of Race to the Stones, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with runner Sorrell Walsh on the Marathon Talk podcast. Last year, Walsh won the women’s event at Race to the Stones in 10 hours and 38 minutes, which I believe set a new course record. However Walsh was struck by the disparity in numbers between male and female participants, the usual split in such events being 80:20. So she did something about it. Under the banner of Wmn Run 100, which she helped found, Walsh set about recruiting a team of female runners with the aim of having a 50:50 split at this year’s event. And she came close, with a final ratio of 60:40 (and many in her team had never trained for a marathon, let alone an ultra distance event before). An amazing achievement and I for one will be following her future endeavours.
When all is said and done, there are countless inspirational (and influential) women out there doing their bit to get more women involved, but there is still more work to do to bring female participation in line with that of males. You never know, maybe one day we’ll outnumber men, and to get us started, a recent parkrun newsletter highlighted the fact that for the first time there were more women registered on their database then men. Let’s hope this will be a continuing trend.
The Running Princess