Yes, I run like a girl. I am a girl so there is no other way for me to run, but why is that a bad thing?
It was only a few days ago that I heard someone on TV saying “run like a girl” to describe a women’s hurdle race and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. People say variants of this phrase everyday; you throw like a girl, you hit like a girl, you fight like a girl, you act like a girl, etc. Every time this is meant as an insult. There was a great advert to highlight this point from Always which was produced by documentary film maker Lauren Greenfield. Now boys, don’t get scared, this is not a video about periods. It is a brilliant bit of marketing to show how the phrase “like a girl” has come to be used as an insult or sign of weakness. When girls under the age of 10 were asked to run like a girl or throw like a girl, they did this to their best ability as fast or strong as they could. When older children and teens were asked the same questions, they all flailed their arms and skipped about like air-heads.
I wanted to test this out myself so in a rather unscientific way I asked 2 boys from the family (one aged 8 and one 9) to show me what they thought it was like to run like a girl*. Unsurprisingly, they both flailed their arms about and skipped around the field. When I asked why it was they did that, the response was “because girls run stupid”. This made me really sad, that two children of such a young age have already formed this view which can only have come from what they have heard in conversation around them. When I asked them if this was how they thought I ran, the answer was yes but only when I am tired. When pushed to see how much they believed this and how they thought I ran when when I wasn’t tired the answer was, “you run halfway between a boy and a girl”.
To these young boys who know me well and have seen me win a few races now, they still think that running like a girl means something negative. To them, the only way I could win these races is when I am running more like a boy.
I called this blog “Fell Run Like A Girl” not to put myself down, but the opposite. Every time I go out to train or to race, I run like a girl. I put my head down and I grit my teeth. I attack those hills going up and then do the same coming back down the other side. I run through mud and wade through water. I run in all weathers all year. I am covered in bruises and scratches from brambles and nettles. I am not the fastest, I am not the slowest. But I give it my all. To me, that is what it means to run like a girl.
So if you want to use run like a girl as an insult or to put us down, you had better damn well be able to keep up!
*I did make a video of this but to save their embarrassment decided not to post it here