If you are reading this blog, it’s likely that (a) you are a runner, (b) you want to be a better runner, and (c) you are a woman (unless you are Mark). Not that there’s anything wrong with hanging out on Salty Running as a man, so long as your interest in bouncing boobs is purely scientific (and I’ll verify that there is no video included in that post).
So let me ask you a question – why does the Salty Running team seem so unique in trying to provide sound, science-based advice for women, while, lo and behold, being women themselves? Do you disagree on this? Let’s take a tour of the world of resources available for competitive runners, shall we?
Exhibit 1: The major running publications like Runner’s World, Running Times, and Competitor, as well as their blogs.
Other than Jenny Hadfield, “Coach Jenny” of RW fame and creator of several marathon’s “official” programs (as well as a few books on marathoning), is there another female author focused on coaching and advice? Rachel Toor’s articles in RT look like they are created by a professor of writing who also happens to run (oh yeah, that’s basically what she is). Susan Lacke on the Competitor blog doesn’t even have her own “column”, and she usually provides just a lighter side to Mario Fraioli’s otherwise hard-hitting training advice. And if I made anything other than food that I’m sure my three sons would eat (or at least a solid majority of them), I’m sure the recipes and nutrition advice provided by countless RW contributors would be tasty and helpful – but at the margins of my training, not at the core.
Exhibit 2: The books by elite runners such as Kara Goucher.
Compared to the works of Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, and others, books by elite women runners seem a bit soft, more about “nurturing” than “coaching”. I’ll admit to not having read Kara’s book (and not actually being on a first name basis with her) or any of Kristin Armstrong’s work, as hanging out here is about as soft as I get. Though I will say that the book Adam Goucher (Kara’s husband) wrote isn’t all that compelling either.
Exhibit 3: The broader blogosphere (do we still use that word?)
And for us amateur bloggers (or semi-pros, as some of us do make a bit of money through coaching or writing books), again where are the women? Most lists of top 20 or top 10 running blogs (written by men, of course) do not include any female authors. And have you thought of an answer to the question in the second paragraph yet? Feel free to chime in with a suggestion, as I’m always open to discovering new resources. I follow 50ish running blogs, and women write only four of them.
Oh, I recognize there are fine running blogs written by women of all performance levels. But can you think of one that is not primarily focused on personal experiences, basically an extension of Facebook? I’m not saying these journals aren’t interesting, and some of them do get a lot of comments from a passionate audience, but do they strive to make that audience better runners?
If you agree with the premise, what are your theories on the reasons for this void? Since I’m not the president of Harvard and therefore (hopefully) can’t lose my job by saying this… are women still put off by science? Do they, despite being >50% of the running population, lack confidence in having something meaningful to contribute? Are they too worried about looking like bad-asses and not coming across as feminine enough?
I’d argue that it is possible for women to:
- Embrace science and use it as the basis for sound running advice. After all, I’m married to a doctor, and while I did help through a tough college engineering curriculum, her sports medicine minor and general medical knowledge make her a permanent member of my running board of directors.
- Use a female perspective and sense of intuition to take science and experiences and provide unique and valuable insights on training applicable to both women and men.
- Toe the line between aggressiveness and compassion, helping women specifically find ways to maintain their balance while pursuing their running goals.
I hope the Salty Running team, at least, continues to step up to this challenge and doesn’t stray from this blog’s principles. That would be a shame, as I’d far rather increase, not decrease, the number of women-authored blogs I follow.
Greg Strosaker, while lacking boobs that bounce (at least these days), focuses on helping both men and women make competitive running a fulfilling part of their already busy lives on his Predawn Runner blog and in his book, Running Ahead of the Sun. Beyond running and writing, he works as a product manager while doing a lot of house-husbanding and fathering for his wife and three sons. And this feminine side does show through on his blog, though he’ll never admit to crying. You can read his riveting interview of Salty here.