December Link Roundup

jill111 / Pixabay

It has been way too long since I’ve done a link roundup and man, do I have a lot of things saved, and a lot of things I’ve missed.  I’m going to try to start getting these posts out more often, maybe every month or every other month.  It would definitely help if I kept up on my blog reading.  I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I write a blog, but tend to go for a chunk of time without reading any blogs, then read everything all at once.  Which always makes for a fun afternoon, but maybe I should try to be more up to date on things!

Racing and Fitness Things

Physical and Mental Health

Delicious Recipes

Just Cool Things

How Not to Give the Gift of Fitness

monicore / Pixabay

This morning on the radio, I heard a story about the best way to gift fitness to a friend who just isn’t into it.  The basic gist of it was “Don’t buy them a treadmill with the hopes that they will use it, but buy them some cute “Athleisure” clothes or get them a yoga mat that matches yours, or buy them a gift card for some workout classes.”

Don’t do this.  Don’t do any of this.

If you have a friend who knows you take yoga classes but has never shown any interest in your classes, don’t give them the “gift” of a class for Christmas.  There is a solid chance they have zero interest in yoga, and you forcing them with a “gift” sort of takes away the meaning of the gift.  That’s like giving someone broccoli for Christmas.  “I know you say you don’t like this, but I really like it, and I think you should try it so now you have to.”

Can you imagine how insulting that might be to someone?  Hi, I’m in shape and you’re not, so I’m going to give you these classes so you can tone up, and it’s a gift, so you have to thank me.  Oh, you never workout because you don’t have the gear?  Well, here you go, now you have no excuse!

I love triathlon.  I love riding my bike.  I have a love/hate relationship with running and swimming.  And trust me, everyone I come in contact with knows these things about me eventually.  I have some friends who have shown interest, and I’m immediately encouraging.  I have other friends who have zero interest, but think what I do is cool anyway, and I so appreciate that support.  Doesn’t mean that I’m going to give my non-swimming friend a cute bathing suit for Christmas.

If you are into a certain activity and have a friend you think would enjoy it, invite them to join you sometime, not as a Christmas gift, but just as a nice thing to do.  See if you can borrow a bike for them to use, get them a guest pass to your gym, ask them if they want to join you for a beginner yoga class.  Don’t force it.  Don’t demand they join you.  If they say no, they say no.  Your friends don’t have to love everything you love.

And “athleisure” clothes aren’t going to make anyone more likely to workout.  Yoga pants are comfy and awesome for wearing when sitting on the couch.

Trying Something New – Yoga Class

RyanMcGuire / Pixabay

On Sunday, I did yoga and brunch with some of my Coeur Sports teammates.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it.  I’m very good at brunch, but I’m not so good at yoga.  In fact, I’m not sure that I had ever taken an actual yoga class before.  I’ve done videos, have a book that I try to use, and been in classes that included some yoga poses, but I had never taken a full yoga class.

The studio’s website had a “for newbies” section, so I read all about it.  Bring a towel.  Check.  Studio will be around 90 degrees.  Yuck, but check.  Be ready to sweat.  Check.

The class was definitely a full one.  So many people there, but what was immediately awesome is that there were people of all shapes and sizes.  Some people looked like yoga pros, others were there in their shorts and t-shirts ready to challenge their bodies.

What I absolutely loved about the class was that it was so challenging and fast moving that I didn’t have time to worry about what I looked like or what anyone else looked like because I was just trying to keep up and work.  I didn’t worry about if this bend made my belly flub hang out.  (I did worry that it might be possible to drown in my own sweat, but that’s a different kind of worry.)

I’m still not sure if I absolutely loved this class or absolutely hated it.  It was challenging for sure, but that makes for a good workout.  I liked that I wasn’t the only one in there having to modify poses or pausing to chug water or wipe the sweat off of everything.  I was sore for days, which tells me that I need to get back to my strength workouts and actually do the workouts in the yoga book I bought.

This class definitely isn’t something I plan to do every week, but I think it may show up in my plans again sometime, possibly for a great workout on a step back weekend.  It was perfectly timed, since I was still in recovery from my race and healing up some pulled muscles.

But most importantly, this was a reminder to just show up.  To not worry what I look like or how good I am at something.  Just show up.  No one cares how good you are, everyone’s just there trying to better themselves.



November Mileage Update

ImageParty / Pixabay

Who else is struggling with the fact that it’s December?  Just me?

November was a better workout month for me, even with a not-so-great race.  I even made it back to the pool.  Once.  That means I’ve been to the pool once in the last two months.  Good job, self.

November Totals
Swim: 1 mile
Bike: 129 miles
Run: 48 miles

Not too bad.  I’m right on track with my running prediction.  I guesstimated that I would hit 500 miles this year, given what I had on my schedule, and I was pretty spot on with that.  Clearly, I need to get to 2000 miles on my bike, and I should be able to do it, though December’s a bit of a crazy month. I can’t believe we’re already near the end of the year!

2017 Totals
Swim: 43.6 miles
Bike: 1868 miles
Run: 475 miles

On Sexual Harassment

Sexual assault.  Sexual harassment.  It’s all over the news right now, and I’ve been debating whether or not to speak up.  After all, this blog is typically about running and triathlon.  But it’s also about mental health and self-confidence, and those are two things very damaged by the way women are often treated by horrible men in positions of power.

It seems like every day, another famous person is accused of sexual assault, and the one thing all of these men have in common is power.  They all hold some sort of power over these women.  Maybe they are supervising the women, maybe they are high up in the company, maybe they are in a position to make or break the woman’s career.  Whatever the source of the power, they use that power to take advantage of these women.

I keep hearing people (men and women alike) say things like “Well, they didn’t say no or try to get away,” or “They didn’t say anything before, they’re just doing it to get attention.”

First off, when a man who has power over a woman (let’s say he has the ability to get her fired) pressures her into a situation, she is caught between saying no and losing her job.  And yes, when faced with that situation, some women absolutely would be able to say no.  But plenty of others wouldn’t – especially when it’s not just losing your job but also potentially being blacklisted in your industry.  And once it’s over, these women walk away, try to brush it off.  Many of them ultimately find other jobs, some end up leaving the industry all together.

Saying yes out of fear does not equal consent.

And a lot of these women didn’t say yes.  A lot of them were forced, and then threatened if they spoke up.

The thing is, this isn’t unique to the entertainment industry.  It is prevalent in many industries, possibly all of them.  Many, many women have stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.  And many of us brush them off because we are told to be nice.

Here’s one personal example.  I had a coworker who made me very uncomfortable.  His advances were likely innocent, but he liked to come up behind me, touch my hair, put his hands on my shoulders, and stand much too close when we talked.  Sure, these things may sound innocent, but put together, with his words and demeanor, and it made me uncomfortable.  I did my best to ignore him, to ask him to not do what he was doing, but it continued.  Finally, my resolve broke when he showed me a photo of a woman in a revealing red dress and told me that it would look great on me, so I should buy it and he would take me to Vegas.

It was just too weird to leave alone, so I finally went to my boss about it.  But the thing was, I was still trying to be nice.  “I don’t want him to get into trouble,” I said.  I was still relatively new at my job and didn’t want to rock the boat.  “I just want it to stop.”  So my boss at the time talked to his boss, and it stopped.

Of course, I found out he just moved on to do this to someone else.  Maybe if I had worried less about being nice, maybe if I had gotten mad and said “No, this is inappropriate, it is against company policy, and something needs to be done,” then it would have stopped for everyone.

But we’re taught to be nice, to not cause a scene.

At an old job, many years ago, I was at a work outing.  I had consumed a few alcoholic beverages, and was talking and laughing with some coworkers.  One of the higher-ups in the company pulled me over and started hitting on me.  He was married, I wasn’t interested, I tried to pull away.  He then started making some very sexually suggestive comments, while keeping hold of my wrist.  Another woman, also higher up in the company, saw this and helped pull me away from him.

I was embarrassed and upset.  My coworkers knew what had happened, but no one wanted to say anything, so I brushed it off.  At work the next day, the guy called me to apologize, and kept saying “But nothing happened, so it’s not a big deal.”  I was so embarrassed by what had happened, and I was also leaving the job in a few weeks, so I agreed and said it was no big deal.  Essentially, I just wanted it to go away.  And it did.

I’m not sure I ever saw that guy again in the few weeks I had left at that job.  And I can’t say that the incident has weighed heavily on me or caused any lasting harm.  The hurt has gone away and now it’s just a sense of embarrassment.  And I shouldn’t feel embarrassed for being a victim.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that it shouldn’t have happened.  I do feel some guilt for not standing up and making it a bigger deal.  Why?  Because it’s likely this wasn’t a one-time thing for him.  It’s likely that he did this to other young women.  And maybe it was worse for some of them than it was for me.

I understand why some women wait to speak up.  When this happened, I was embarrassed.  I was young.  I was on my way out anyway, which I think is really the key to my story.  Who knows what would have happened if I would have had to continue working with this guy.  I just wanted it to go away.  But if suddenly I heard that other women were saying “Hey, this guy did these things to me,” maybe I would add my voice to the choir.  I don’t know.

Neither of these two incidents are as heinous as some of the many stories coming out in the press.  But I share them to show just how pervasive sexual harassment is for women.  These are not the only two incidents that have happened to me.  I have worked with men who believed it was fine to place their hands on my shoulders, thumbs rubbing bare skin due to a wide neckline.  I have had my ass grabbed more times than I can count.  I have given and received advice from others of people to avoid.  At one point, there was someone who I not-so-jokingly referred to as “The Inappropriate Toucher” and did my best to stay more than an arms-length away.

Thankfully, the men who have done these things are a very small percentage of the men I have encountered over the years.  I am lucky to have so many wonderful men in my life, men who have never once made me feel uncomfortable around them.  I have watched some of them stand up against harassment, which is amazing.  I work in a male dominated industry, and 99.9% of the time, my interactions are professional and friendly.  I spend my summers training and racing in relatively revealing clothing (let’s be honest – tri kits don’t hide much), and have never once felt uncomfortable due to the actions of another person.  (And yes, this includes during gross, sweaty victory hugs after a race, because the intent there is very different.)

(I do want to add that men can also be the victims of sexual harassment and women can be the perpetrators.  I don’t have any personal experience, so don’t feel comfortable writing about it, but it does happen, and we need to be aware of it, support the men who are dealing with this, and speak up against the women perpetrating it.)

As these stories have come out, I have noticed that a lot of men are surprised and a lot of women are not.  And that’s because we don’t speak out.  These men can’t imagine doing something like this to another person, so it seems shocking.  And women often don’t say anything, so how are they supposed to know?  So if you want to, if you feel comfortable doing so, tell your stories.  And if you find yourself in a situation to speak up when someone is behaving inappropriately, absolutely speak up if you can do so safely.

I don’t think this behavior is going to go away quickly, or anytime soon.  But it’s time to be honest about it, to get it out there, and to realize that we all have the right to feel safe.