- This was printed in July of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 59th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.
What does it mean to run “like a girl”?
Scrolling through my Facebook news feed this week, I came across a heartbreaking-yet-
inspiring video from Always, the feminine care product brand, that worked to answer this
question. Producers asked a few women, a man, and a boy to perform different actions
— fighting, running and throwing — “like a girl.”
The people in the video responded with ridiculously exaggerated pantomimes of each
action. Running “like a girl” apparently means shaking one’s hair side-to-side and waving
one’s hands daintily around with a big, goofy smile. Fighting “like a girl” looks like a cat
swiping furiously at something in front of it. And throwing “like a girl” means tossing —
or even dropping — a ball lightly as if you’re afraid to extended your arm. Oh, and don’t
forget to pop your foot up behind you with a pointed toe.
According to these stereotypes, it’s embarrassing to do anything like a girl.
Yet when producers asked young girls in the video to fight, run and throw “like a girl,”
their actions made me choke up. The girls, with all the confidence in the world, threw
punches like Laila Ali, sprinted like FloJo and lobbed imaginary softballs like Jennie
“What does it mean to you when I ask you ‘run like a girl’?” the producer asked a
pony-tailed youngster who appeared to be not much older than my own daughter.
“It means, run fast as you can,” she responds.
I saw my 4-year-old in her response. Both girls ooze confidence.
Later in the video, the same producer asks a woman, “If I asked you to run like a girl
now, would you do it differently?”
“I would run like myself,” the young woman responds.
“Why can’t ‘run like a girl’ also mean win the race?” asks another young woman.
The video asks the public to make a difference in young girls’ lives by helping them to
maintain the confidence they show as youngsters. “Let’s make #likeagirl mean amazing
things” flashes across the screen.
I am absolutely in love with this idea.
When I picture “running like a girl” I see a few local runners that have become my
inspirations. In my mental photo they are attacking a trail, water bottles in hand, mud on
their faces and legs, striding strongly up a massive hill. I see them winning races. I see
them running stride-for-stride with some of the top male runners in the Valley.
I picture Kenyan marathoner Rita Jeptoo crossing the Boston Marathon finish line in
April in 2:18:57, a mere 10 minutes shy of male winner Meb Keflezighi. (Four decades
ago, women’s marathon records trailed those of men by nearly an hour.) Women with
confidence accomplish amazing things.
But it’s not just the speedy women I look to when I think of “running like a girl.” I see
the moms out at the park before dawn, running before their kids wake up. I see women
heading out after their nine-to-fives, pounding the pavement in triple-digit heat because
they have goals to accomplish.
I see a single mom of three putting all the effort she has into running to the top of a hill.
There’s determination on her face, along with a look of satisfaction she gets from finally
doing something for herself after all the selfless years of caring for her children.
To all the ladies out there: go ahead, run like a girl. And fellas? Try to keep up.
Watch the video here:
If you want to help a couple of local girls make their dream come true, check out
http://www.gofundme.com/SendUsToBoston. For Madera runner Audrey Crow and I,
qualifying for the Boston Marathon was just the first part of our challenge. We’re
humbled to admit that the round-trip flight and hotel stay in Boston is, for now, financially
out of reach. We’ve set up a GoFundMe account and deeply appreciate any donation —
even a single dollar — that will help us pay our way to the Boston Marathon in April. We
promise to show everyone in Boston what it means to run like a girl.