Leaning in

Image representing Sheryl Sandberg as depicted...
Cheryl Sandberg. Image via CrunchBase

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve at least heard of Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg and her book, Lean In. Sandberg wrote the book  to encourage women to pursue their ambitions, and to change the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do. Sure, sexism exists. Whether we like it or not, men, in large part, still rule the world. However, using that as an excuse to abandon ambition will get us nowhere. Instead, assume you can reach your goals and act accordingly.

Leaning in gives us permission (as if we really need it) to imagine what we would do if we were not afraid of running into glass ceilings and to find ways to get us to our goals.

This can so easily apply to our running.

Runner in PF Chang Marathon 2010
Embracing a less leaned-in running style is still leaning in. (Photo credit: Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale)

In a literal sense, it can be a physical thing. In terms of your running form, do you lean or are do you run more straight up and down? There is a science and a study of the benefits and detriments of each. Is one better than the other? Perhaps, but don’t we chose the method best suited to our bodies? When that happens we have leaned in and embraced our running style.

Does that mean that we should not change our form? Not necessarily, we make improvement all of the time and over time we discover what is best for us. We do not have to attempt to be a carbon copy of someone else. We have the power to do those things or to not do those same things. When we allow someone else to make those decisions for us, we have given away our power.

Jenn Shelton
Jenn Shelton leans way in.

Leaning in is also about the clothes we wear. Where is it written that we have to wear boxy shorts, white socks and shoes? Maybe on the center courts at Wimbledon, but most of us are not heading there.  Wear what you want. I will modify this a bit and say wear what you want as long as it supports you and feels comfortable. No one I know feels good running in a string bikini, but I don’t know everyone. If this is you, go for it. Bottom line, there are many clothing options out there. Choose something funky or not and have fun.

Leaning in is about being present and accounted for. Yes, there are days when running is hard. There will be days when running just doesn’t make sense. No worries – do it anyway. In fact, do it a lot during those times. There are no run police and the people who are giving you grief about your running are probably the same ones sitting on the couch.  Run. Run the best way you know how and run some more.

How would you run if you were not afraid? I remember I used to run at weird hours and crazy places because I did not want anyone to see me. I thought that I ran too slowly, my stride too funny, and the list goes on. Then one day I just ran without even thinking about my fears. You know what? Other runners high fived me, gave encouragement, talked about the weather, exchanged clothing tips, and other things. The only people who said stupid things to me were the boneheads in their cars shouting out stuff, but who listens to them anyway?

So, again I ask you how you would run if you were not afraid. Would you join a running group? Would you run in the park among strangers? Would you run alone (in a well populated and lit area)? Would you run before dawn (in a well lit area and maybe with friends)? Would you wear bright colors? Would you ditch your shirt? Would you run slower? Would you run slower AND further?  Would you enter a race? Would your goals be bigger? Or would you stop procrastinating and just run?

Have you read Lean In? How do you think it applies to running?

I eat miles for breakfast, or occasionally for a snack later in the day. Self proclaimed 50+ and fabulous poster child, US Army vet, college professor, avid runner, yoga enthusiast, guest columnist, and I've used Olay since I was 17 so they should use me in at least one of their ads!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.