The minute I even look at my running shoes a story my friend once told me starts playing in my head.
She was training for a 5k charity run and as she was jogging along the road a man actually leaned out of his car window and shouted: “Run, Forrest, Run!”
At the time we had a good old chuckle about it – she’s a petite size 10, in good shape and while it offended her that he felt he had the right to yell at her, it would never have stopped her running.
If it happened to me now I honestly think I would be devastated. And it’s such a silly thing: to be so worried about what you look like while exercising, that you don’t exercise. But it seems, according to a new study by Sport England, that I am far from alone in thinking such things, which is why they are launching the This Girl Can campaign in January.
While I don’t love the title I do love the objective which is to encourage more women to join clubs, gyms and to exercise in their own homes.
According to a story about the study and campaign in the Telegraph today:
“They found that a fear of judgment far outweighs women’s confidence to exercise. Concerns ranged from embarrassment over sporting ability to worries about appearance.”
Before I was pregnant with Freya I lost two stone by doing a couch to 5k training programme and Weight Watchers Online. I ran outside, often at night as I was working then, and my main fear was being attacked. Now, having spent the last 18 months overeating (I embraced the eating for two line, even when I was only one again) my biggest fear about exercising isn’t being attacked, it’s going outside in my jogging bottoms!
And how awful is that?
Firstly that I should have any fears but secondly, and most importantly, that I should be put off trying to get fit because I’m worried that what I look like will result in being shouted at in the street. I’m as embarrassed at myself as I am as angry at people (and it’s not just men) for thinking its okay to demean us in such a way.
Pushed along by a wave of emotion, I bit the bullet yesterday and dug out all my old running stuff.
None of it fit, apart from socks, shoes and knee bandages.
I still look six months pregnant, even though I haven’t been pregnant for more than double that so the tight running tops and tights I had been using just make me feel even more self-conscious.
As a result, yesterday, I ran in my maternity jogging bottoms and one of my dad’s old t-shirts. And you know what? I loved it.
Of course, it helped that the park was mercifully empty apart from the odd dog walker but I think my confidence will only build from here on in – especially as I was recommended the Zombies, Run! game. I’ve only done the intro and the adrenaline from the story was enough to get me going. If anyone had commented I think I would have screamed: “The zombies are coming! Run, you fool!” as I was so caught up in it.
In all seriousness, I’ve got to the point now where I need to do this for me but what’s more I know I need to do it to Freya. If she has a mum who isn’t overeating, who is exercising properly and what’s more enjoying that element of it, hopefully it will help her have a good healthy body image.
I’ll never be a size 10, I don’t want to be, but I can at least be fit – and it seems This Girl Can is going to be run along the same lines. It will be real women, rather than elite athletes, whose stories will be highlighted. Look out for the TV advert in the New Year.
So, I have an outfit, playlist and zombie app…now I just need the time. I wonder if they have a campaign for that?
I’ll be writing about my, what I loosely term, training over the coming weeks. Has anyone else been in the situation of starting from scratch? Any tips?