75% of women are put off exercise for fear of what others think, fear of judgement from other people, friends, strangers, family, sometimes no one in particular just “people” who might think less of them for getting out of the front door, putting their lycra on and going for a run.
Last night I took the Fareham RunVerity group out running, this week we didn’t want the safety of running along Fareham Creek doing our usual out and back route, hiding between the bushes and the creek. This week we wanted to do a different route, hit the streets of Fareham, explore the roads and avenues, see places that we hadn’t seen before. This week we wanted a change.
I had warned the group that we may experience some “heckling” from local residents but even I was surprised that in our 42.23 minute run we encounted 5 different jeers, taunts and shout downs. Two different sets of people thought it was ok to follow us, teasing us as they ran with us holding their pints of beer as we ran past the loacl pub’s beer garden. There was a group of teenagers who shouted “banter” to enourage us in our “jog” again joining in at the back, laughing and joking with each other, not with us it was as though we were invisible, the butt of their joke as we ran along the path.
Would this have happened to a group of men running along the streets of Fareham, would men who were running at the back have been shouted at to “keep up”? I’m not 100% but in my experience of running with a group of men this generally doesn’t happen.
When we show up to a new group, and this could be an Access to Higher Education course, an exercise class, a cookery class, anything at all, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, even more so if we are dressed in lycra. Being vulnerable isn’t gender specific, it’s a human trait to be vulnerable and to care what people think, it is part of our human make up.
But the stats speak for themselves, the gender gap between active women and active men, whilst on the decrease, is still high. Women still faces barriers as to why they are not being active and from what we experienced last night, I can see one of the barriers very clearly.
What enables a person to keep putting the lyrca on or handing in the essay or keep trying to get the perfect Eton Mess desert? How can women be encouraged to be active when the barriers seem so insurmountable
Courage, having the courage to be vulnerable, choosing courage over comfort and keeping going. Brene Brown is an expert on Shame, Vulnerabiltiy and Courage, she suggest that vulnerability is about showing up when you have no control over the outcome.
I cannot control what people will say to us when we run the streets of Fareham or Whiteley but I can tell you that we are not going to stop. We are going to have the courage to keep going and not listen to the critics who are not being brave with their lives. We will keep running and be brave and believe that we can achieve despite the “heckling” from the cheap seats.