Friday Finds – 10th March

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/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.

With Wednesday being International Women’s Day, I’m feeling inspired to make this week’s Friday Finds all about women, whether that’s articles about inspirational women or the challenges women still face when it comes to sport. Funnily enough, I’ve found plenty!

Let’s start with this article written by Kelly Roberts (of the popular blog Run Selfie Repeat) for Outside online. In it, she addresses the pernicious idea, popularised across social media, that women have to look slim and toned in order to be considered strong and to feel confident. Last summer Roberts overcame her own insecurities about running in just a sports bra and encouraged other women to join her in embracing their bodies and being proud of what they could achieve rather than how they look, hence the #sportsbrasquad was born. The clear message (also shared by Anna Kessel in her scathing piece for The Guardian a few months ago on #fitspo)  is that strong isn’t about looking a certain way, but about feeling a certain way, and that’s a powerful message to share.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, even more horrifying is the fact that so many women are harassed, heckled or made to feel intimidated whilst out for a run. There has been much in the media in recent times about this issue, and though I’m fortunate enough not to have really encountered this problem, I know it is a very real issue in some places. And while offering safety advice to women is all very well-meant, the fact is it just shouldn’t be necessary for a woman to alter her behaviour just because of her gender – the root of the problem has to be addressed. One of the best reports I’ve read on this came in a recent issue of Runner’s World and that, along with a similar piece from The Guardian, is below:

Another issue has been in the coverage of women’s sports and female representation on the boards of various sports. To coincide with International Women’s Day, the charity Women in Sport released a damning report highlighting the number of governing bodies in sport which are not currently meeting government criteria about the number of females on their boards. This has led to suggestions of sexism which, whatever the position, will need to be addressed in order to move forward. Interestingly, when it comes to coverage of women’s sport, the (female) head of sport at the BBC sees things a little differently and believes that positive change is underway. I really hope that is the case, as girls and young women need to see more positive female role models and increased coverage of women’s sports provides just that.

Fortunately, there are plenty of inspirational women out there showing the world what can be achieved. This year marks 50 years since Kathrine Switzer first ran the Boston Marathon and became a catalyst for change in women’s running. To mark the occasion, Switzer will run the Boston marathon again. Also running will be another runner who has made history – Rahaf Khatib – who first came to the world’s attention when she became the first hijab-wearing runner to feature on the cover of a US health & fitness magazine. She will be running as part of an all-female team selected because they continue to push boundaries and inspire others. Fantastic!

And finally, I want to finish on a more inspirational note with some links to videos which (I hope) will lift your spirits. The first, following on from the last find, is an advert from Nike which features Muslim women exercising in a hijab. It has courted some controversy, but sends a powerful message about defying societal norms. The second is a short film from ESPN Women which encourages women to move, meet their potential and challenge those who say they can’t do something. I, for one, love it. The last, released on Wednesday for International Women’s Day, features Serena Williams reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem If – but as an ode to women. Powerful stuff.

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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