Growing up, my mother always taught me that Girls can to anything that Boys can do. She insisted that the only differences were biological. And I agreed. Until I started running with a Boy. Now I know, there is absolutely a difference between ‘Running Like a Girl’ and ‘Running Like a Boy.’
Before you frown, particularly if you read my first post Run Like a Mom, know that I remain completely loyal to my personal mission of washing the world of the insult that is automatically implied in the phrase “Like a Girl”.
[Forgive the repetition, but if you haven’t been exposed to the #LikeaGirl campaign, watch it, especially if you have girls, but even if you have boys. Because it is so true. Particularly when it comes to sport, doing anything “Like a Girl” is simply another way of saying “doing it badly”.]
But then I went for a run with a male friend last week. And I discovered that there is absolutely a difference between ‘Running like a Boy’ and ‘Running like a Girl’. Not that I was aware of it at the time.
To me, it was a great Sunday run. I ran with my headphones on to our meeting spot, we ran together for a further half hour or so, and then we ran to another meeting place to pick up another friend of mine who wanted a shorter run. And then I ran home afterwards with my music.
To me, that’s a great run. Some alone time for speed work, some together time to chat, a new person to add a different dimension to the chat, culminating in more alone time while I quietly died on the Horrible Hill Home.
But apparently not so much for my male friend. Let’s call him P.
When I got home, my other half was laughing quietly into his FutureLife shake. (He’s a cyclist. Forgive him.)
Apparently P had commented on his Strava feed, that “Between you and me, Girls talk way too much when they run”.
Personally, I thought the run had been rather quiet, and the conversation a little stilted.
But it appears that the male of the running species doesn’t talk while it runs.
My first clue should have been when he pointed to his ear phones just after we met up and said: “You know, while I run I listen to this political podcast…”. Which I took to mean, let’s talk politics. And so we did.
But apparently what he really meant was, “I’m in the middle of this podcast, and I want to carry on listening. Shut up and run.”
But P politely listened to me and even added a bit to the conversation. I was a little relieved when we picked up my other running partner – let’s call her J – because P seemed to have run out of conversation.
As it turns out, he was relieved too, because it meant he could Shut Up and Run, while J could pick up his end of the conversation.
But P’s relief was short-lived. Because he was now introduced to another element of Running Like a Girl, otherwise known as Running without a Route.
You see, as a Girl, the route is decided en route. We stop at intersections to discuss where we are going. We check who wants to go further, who wants to turn back, who is up for Horrible Hills and who is not.
As a Boy, not so much. As a Boy, apparently, you just Shut Up and Run. The Boy in front decides the route. And the Boys behind just Shut Up and Run.
I have to admit that I did notice P getting a little frustrated with the lack of decisiveness at every second intersection. His eyes were rather wide and his jaw a little tight when he declared (very politely): “Ok this is me, I’m going this way.” Knowing that we were heading the other way (away from Horrible Hill, of course).
When I look back on that run, I realise that it was a Girls’ Run right from the outset. The start time changed twice the morning of the run. The participants too. We all started at different points, and ended up finding each other en route, not at the allocated spots.
(Which is better than not finding each other at all – something I do regularly with my female running friends!)
You see, Running Like a Girl is much like Living with a Girl. Complicated. Unpredictable. And it requires much two-way conversation, some give and some take, and quite often someone ignoring personal goals in the name of the greater good of the running group.
I Run Like a Girl, and I’m proud of it.