No one will ever think of me as the runner, and I find myself comfortable with the speed at which I jog, in the event I need to jog. And yet, I think of exercise as healthy and fun, especially when it’s a type of exercise you enjoy. But is it weird to rejoice in our freedom to exercise? Well, that’s what we should all be doing, because it was only 47 years ago that Kathrine Switzer broke some of the many glass ceilings by being the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. She was even attacked during the race! Now, I am not going to retell her story, as she’s done a fine job of that in the bio pages on her website, and I’m sure her memoir is even better (it’s on the top of my to-read list).
I really encourage you all to read the quick story told from her point of view. It’s captivating, but a phenomenal start to explaining how she became ready to change athletic events to include women, to really change the perception of athleticism as being an exclusively masculine trait.
Sometimes, I lift boxes or my heavy suitcase–and my suitcase is always pushing the weight limit–and people are always surprised. As if a women couldn’t lift fifty pounds. Well, I do, all of the time, and it really shouldn’t be such a surprise that I could lift a sort of heavy box. Could we all stopped being shocked by remote athleticism in women, and just cheer for them as they cross the finish line, like we would with all of the men on the track? Though, running a marathon is not a walk in the park by most standards, it’s not impossible for the people who train for the event, like Switzer spent a considerable amount of time doing. Her bravery is not so much in her athleticism, but in her willingness to break the social barriers in her way.
I applaud Kathrine for being so willing to do what she loved, and for her bravery in not letting people deter her from that track–I promise I wasn’t trying to be punny that time, it just happened there and I had to leave it. Switzer is my empowerment for the everyday, and especially when I need a little encouragement to finish a workout. Thanks, Switzer, for changing athleticism back in the day, and for continuing to do so in the decades that followed.
Have an athlete that empowers you? Or anyone who’s doing something inspiring? Let me know through twitter, tumblr, e-mail, or in the comments down below and I’ll dedicate an Everyday Empowerment post to them.