I’ll just keep picking up my feet and pumping my arms one step at a time

As I’ve started my journey running I have already ran into several stereotypes that come with the sport. I’m not the most physically fit person, better yet I’m not skinny, tall, or lanky. I’m tanned, but I don’t run without a shirt and just a sports bra and shorts. But whether I do these things and fit into these categories, does it make me a stereotype? According to most blogs that I’ve read and my coach it’s a sign of my inexperience. There are all these pressures to prove yourself worthy of being identified as a runner to other runners, but on the other hand, some runners have the need to prove to people who don’t run their masculinity or femininity, their athleticism, their and sometimes their social habits.

One blog specifically targeted men, it described how you can determine their experience as a runner based off of what they are wearing. Boys in high school would wear long basketball shorts with boxers, but as they go on, they begin to conform into wearing short shorts and spandex. Men have are pressured by their team to prove they’re real runners and they should be taken seriously, while on the other hand they feel the need to prove their masculinity because of these short shorts. My coach explained to me that coming from Long Beach to UCSD, he came wearing basketball shorts because if he ever ran with short shorts throughout the city people would yell out “gay!” or his friends would tell him, “why are you wearing girl shorts?” He had the need to prove his masculinity but as soon as he got here, the team couldn’t take him seriously because of the length of his shorts. Besides what he wore he also had to fight against his built as a runner. “I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder throughout my running career due to my size. I’m smaller, yet bigger, which means I had more weight so I had to work harder,” said Anthony Heredia.

Women are also being persuaded into runner’s habit, unlike men the pressure isn’t majorily in the clothes they wear, it’s their body. They have the need to be thin if they want to be fast. Some women runners have been known to have eating disorders to maintain their thin figure. While women who are naturally skinny are known to be massive carb consumers to keep their body going. Like men though, women have similar attire, short shorts, mainly spandex and a sports bra. Here is where my  insecurities were brought up, I don’t feel comfortable with running in just a sports bra, I barely got comfortable running in spandex, even though I loved wearing them for volleyball, because of my curves I feel insecure to run exposed.

Depending on what kind of runner they are there is always a predominant race that takes over. Lists of where the fastest runners come from claim Kenya in the Olympics, but in a collegiate level the predominant race is white. The typical runner is usually tall and thin, they come from a well established family, starting their running careers early. Running is very popular in the collegiate level in the east some schools praise their runners at the level that others would praise their football team. A popular assumption about runners is that they are unable to play any other sport. They chose running because they didn’t or couldn’t play a contact sport. Since it’s not a contact sport this draws a more academically based kind of athlete, in lack of a better word, nerds. This is why most cross-country teams comes with the stigma of being socially awkward.

There are a lot of aspects of runners going against me, but I have the mentality of an athlete, I love sports, I never thought running was going to be such a challenge. I’m challenged to think that because I’m not 110 or less pounds at my height of 5’4 that I’m incapable of running fast, I refuse to believe that. I’ve read several times that endurance and speed comes with time and practice, so far that’s been my rookie mistake. I try to jump into running with a full on sprint, this shows my weakness but I think it also highlights my strength of being easily motivated. That’s what I’m use to and I refuse to give up I’ll just keep picking up my feet and pumping my arms one step at a time.

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One Response to I’ll just keep picking up my feet and pumping my arms one step at a time

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Your attention to clothing is notable, and worth further analysis. You do a good job of pointing out how in different contexts clothing carries different meaning, particularly around gender. The questions you raise about body size are also significant, as they affect many runners, particularly women. As the project continues, it will be interesting to see how your analysis of other subject positions such are race, ability, class, age, etc. deepens. I look forward to hearing how your endurance and intellectual awareness of the sport grows!

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