As a woman, I have witnessed and lived with many gender inequalities during my lifetime. The one that has been pressing my conscious these days is exercise. It seems almost absurd when I type this, but seriously, it is Exercise!
I have competed in a number of triathlons and distance running events over the years. During this time, I have met and trained with many phenomenal women and have been part of some wonderful fitness communities. Most of the women, myself included, are average athletes, not looking for podium spots, but just enjoy physical fitness and training for different races. A common theme: “we love the camaraderie of training for the event” not the race!
We exercise because it is our own personal time to do something healthy that we love. A long run with friends is a “therapy session” or “happy hour”. A 50 mile bike ride is our “1/2 day shopping spree” with the girls. It seems harmless, right? However, over the years, it appears to be an increasing theme that women are made to feel guilty about their beloved hobby by their husbands or significant others.
I have heard so many stories about how women get in their training/exercise without disrupting their family life, but are still given a hard time. Recently, I was told of a Mom of 3 who is training for a Half Ironman event. She gets up at 4:00 am a few days a week, so she can get in a long run or ride before her husband and kids get up. She finishes by 6:30, gets her children to school , then works all day, comes home, cooks dinner, gets the kids off to bed, etc. The husbands’s beef? Well, she is tired at night and goes to bed early… I don’t get it, this lady is doing all she can to care for her family. She is managing to creatively carve out a slice of time for herself, but given grief about it. I think she deserves a gold medal, waking up at 4am is commitment! The Inequality: the husband is also training for a Half Ironman event and spends Saturday & Sunday mornings riding and running…Guilt-Free!!!
I have dozens of other stories similar to this one. Interestingly, it’s not only the men giving women grief, but women are giving women grief! Yes, we ladies can be our own worst enemies. My example: a colleague telling me how selfish it is for women to train for Marathons and Ironman Events. “These women steal time from their families.” However, a week later, I heard the same colleague giving every accolade she could think of to a man who had just finished his first marathon… “How do you do it? You’re so busy, so committed, Bravo!!!” Wait, did he not steal time from his family doing all those long runs?
I write this post as I am perplexed, Why Can’t Women Just Go For A Long Run? I would love to hear your thoughts on this…Have you or anyone you know experienced this?