Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Run Like a Boy

I just had the great good fortune of speaking with Mary Wittenberg, Prez & CEO of the New York Road Runners Club. "It's like a secret," she said, "that this activity (running that is) can transform your life in more ways than you can ever know." Not just running, but really any sport pursued with purpose. For Mary it started with rowing. In the last twenty strokes of every race, when she was at her limit and pulling harder still, that's when she realized how far she could really go. "The mind," Mary says, "can go way farther than your body thinks it can." And once we understand this, we can never go back. Once we know that it is our minds limiting our capacity, and not our capacity setting the limits, then we've opened a world of possibility.

For girls in particular Mary thinks sports are one of the, if not the, most important ways in which we can be empowered. Through sports we can learn that to run like a girl, we need, too, to run like a boy--to seize opportunity, to challenge ourselves, to test ourselves, to jump in with both feet, to believe in our ability--all the things that boys have taken almost for granted for so long, but that have traditionally come harder to we of the weaker sex (as if...). But what we bring to running like a boy is our possibly more natural ability (and yes, generalizations are only that) to take things step by step, to build slowly to an end goal, not necessarily start with a marathon, but start with a mile. Achieve and set a higher ambition. Achieve that next level and set another higher ambition. That's running like a girl.