Tuesday, 28 April 2015

This could get ranty.....

So.... there are many opinions floating around in the social media about this sporting lark – what it is and what it isn't.

There are people who started sporty blogs which have now turned into feature length adverts and reviews for various products.
Sport very rarely gets a mention.
Don't get me wrong – there are some people who manage to review products very honestly, are selective about how often and what products they will review. These people manage to maintain their integrity.
Some are less selective.

Anyway... that's one of my many gripes.

Another one?

Well, here goes, and I hope I can convey what I want to and get the balance right.

Last weekend while walking a chunk of Manchester marathon with Sarah (@SazzyMCH), probably around mile 23, one of the wonderful crowd shouted very loudly 'keep going you've almost run a marathon'
I thanked the lady for her words of encouragement but told her that I wouldn't be a marathon runner as I was walking.
I didn't have much run left in me at that point and wanted to save every ounce of run I could muster for the last mile.

And I meant it.
I can't call myself a marathon runner – I haven't run a marathon.
I have completed one, so I am a marathon finisher.

That's what it says on my t-shirt I got at the end too.
Marathon finisher.

If I had run the whole 26.2 miles at a pace of 12 minute miles, but run them all – then yes, I would call myself a runner.
If I had run them all at 6.30 minute miles, then I would call myself a runner.

I think by calling myself a runner takes away some of the achievement from those who run hard.
Those who give everything to do a 3 hour marathon – those that run hard to do a 6 hour marathon (but run all of it, not walk a bit here and a bit there)

Running a whole marathon requires proper training and proper dedication.
There are people who go out, week on week, and give it their all at park-run, those who will never run more than 5km every Saturday morning, but run with all their heart and soul on a weekly basis.

There are those who are sponsored – be that via nutrition or kit supplies, proper professional athletes who train every day, for multiple hours a day.

GB runners, those who do nothing but run, cross train so it benefits their running, recover thoroughly and scrutinise everything that goes into their body as fuel.
Day in, day out.
They eat, sleep and breath running.
These are runners.

There are recreational runners who train every day and have sponsors – these are runners too.

I don't want to take anything away from anyone, and include myself in that statement.
Don't get me wrong 26.2 miles was a big deal for me.
And yes, I trained for it.
I trained hard (not hard enough) - but it wasn't my primary goal.
My first 5km was a big deal.
I know the exact spot on the canal where I turned so I could complete my first 10km run ever.

Were it not for triathlon, it is very unlikely I would be doing any running at all – and for that reason, I feel a fraud in calling myself a runner if this detracts form others who work harder at it than I do.
I don't even consider myself a triathlete – I am someone who does triathlons.

Just because you lace up a pair of trainers, doesn't necessarily make you a runner – for some running is something they do – it doesn't define who they are.

It doesn't mean they enjoy it any more or any less than someone who does it more often or faster or for longer distances.
Someone very close me is a very talented runner, has great fitness, good speed, good endurance, but openly dislikes running – it is something they do.

It is just different – it serves a different purpose for different people and there are lots of people out there, in running circles, in media circles who could do with thinking about it in this way.

What was it Paula Radcliffe said on Sunday 'I run because I am a runner. I am a runner because I run'
While I respect everything she has done and am more than a little bit in awe at her achievements, bounce-back-ability and determination, this statement is only true for some.

My next area of shouty rantiness could go in any direction – I know what I want to say, again, whether it comes out the way I want it to is another matter..... but here goes.....

When the 'This Girl Can' campaign came out, I had a watch of it and a read about it and thought 'I LOVE the 'I jiggle, therefore I am' and yes, I thought 'this girl can' briefly about myself, but equally and more often, I thought 'what about the blokes who jiggle and can?'

Why wasn't it 'you can'?
Regardless of your age, shape, speed, size, jiggly bits, limb structure, skin colour – it should be 'you can' or 'I can' or 'this person can'

Because there are men that need some gentle encouragement too.
Lots of men.
Without going into detail or derailing myself, its worth mentioning the male suicide rate and the positive links between sport and depression at this point.

I regularly see the rants about 'women in sport' and needing to get more women taking part – we need to get more people in general taking part (the flip side of more participation being the complaints about events selling out 12 months in advance / being overpriced due to demand etc etc)

The same people who want women involved in sports, who vote for women only marathons and triathlons, equally whinge and moan about the 'pink it and shrink it' approach and complain that they don't want that – that women don’t want that.
Some women must want it, else it wouldn't sell.

Make your mind up... do you want specialist treatment cos you're female? Do you want sport in isolation so its all soft and gentle?
No – we want it tough..... ok... so why can't it be mixed with the blokes if that's the case? Ah, well, there is everyday sexism too.....


I love the idea of Race for Life – I really do, but why can't men take part? Men suffer from cancer.... ah well, its breast cancer.
Yeah – they suffer from that too.
Show me a man who hasn't been affected by cancer.
How pink is that?
And exclusive.
If men organised a male only event there would be utter uproar.

Men had Movember as A Thing of their own for prostate cancer– but the women have gradually infiltrated this and leapt on board with cries of 'we're supporting our men folk'
No really, well done. 
Last time I checked, the prostate helped with the production of sperm and women don't have that – but men do have breast tissue.

See my problem?

I want more people in sport.
I want kids passionate about it – and have the opportunity to try all the sports and have access to them all so they fall in love with whatever it is that floats their boat.
I want men and woman of all ages and abilities to have access to welcoming and supportive clubs and facilities.
I want people to be proud of what their bodies can do.
I want people to realise how glorious life can be when it is coloured with endorphins.
I want everyone to be encouraged to be the best they can be – at whatever they chose to do.

Other opinions are available.

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