Female sports are finally IN, and sponsors have realized the opportunities they have been missing out on ignoring female sports for decades. But more important than that, I believe in the power of sports in life in general, and to me, life through sports has been enormously rich. This is why it's crucial for our daughters (and everyone's sons too) to have opportunities to explore themselves in sports.
Let me start by saying that my husband and I are raising our two sons and our awesome daughter to be human beings, not confined by traditional gender roles. No "girl things" or "boy things" for us! We believe in exposing them to a variety of sports and letting them choose their passion when the time is right. Until then, they're having a blast exploring different activities.
Having her play baseball, basketball and soccer with boys has been incredibly amazing and valuable. It has had its challenges, especially when she kicks butts and boys can't take it, and boys resort to playing dirty. But I can rest in knowing that I have raised a strong young woman who stands up for herself and knocks down bullies. Well done my girl, well done!
But today, let's focus on the impact of sports on empowering girls. From a bird's-eye view, women often face unique challenges and are sometimes discouraged from participating in sports due to cultural or societal norms. It's frustrating and sexist, no doubt about it.
Sports have had a monumental impact on my life. Without them, I'd probably still be buried under a pile of snow in North Finland. Not that there's anything wrong with snow-shoveling—I could use a workout right about now!
Now, let me tell you why this topic is so important to me. Sports empower women of all ages, including the fabulous moms I once coached.
Picture this: a group of incredible Muslim women, hesitant to run, opting for a walk instead. I challenged them, saying, "Why not run? You're safe here, surrounded by other amazing women. Give it a shot and tell me how it feels!"
"The Sense of Power Is Incredible! I wish I could Feel This Way All The Time!"
And guess what? These three women showed up every single time, rain or shine. They ran like the wind, leaving me in awe. Oh boy, did they run! Their determination was contagious, and their smiles lit up the track.
It is not long ago that women were not allowed to run a marathon, and even in my favourite sport of Nordic skiing, only in 2022 that women and men race the same distance of 50K! I believe this longheld belief that women are not equipped doing long distance sports races is about to vanish as women are flocking into the world of ultra-endurance racing. I am giggling in excitement!
When I think about school sports though, I can see some of the old-school mentality that "shield" our girls from fast-paced, high-intensity sports. I won't mention names here, but some sports that are "adapted" to women.... I mean, really?!
BEST MOTHER'S DAY PRESENT EVER
Now, let's fast forward to Mother's Day, post-lockdown. Picture a stressed-out family dealing with e-learning, a working-from-home dad, and a mom who hasn't left the house in months. It was a chaos, to say the least. But my oldest had the brilliant idea of running a marathon for me. Talk about the best present ever! For the past four years, we have ran collectively 46, 55, 61 and 72 K! Running in Dubai in May had us starting quite early before the heat gets insane, and not every one of the family is happy to wake up at 6 am... But everyone contributes and it really makes me so happy to run together.
My daughter, with a beaming smile on her face, proudly tallied up 10 kilometres the first year. And let me tell you, getting sprayed with cold water never looked so exhilarating! She was only eight years old, and guess who celebrated her achievement with donuts afterward? Yep, you guessed it—this tired mom!
Why Sports for Women is so Important?
Through sports, young women develop leadership skills, build relationships, and, most importantly, gain the confidence and courage to chase their dreams, on and off the field. I've experienced this firsthand in my own life.
As a child, cross-country skiing and athletics taught me valuable lessons. They instilled in me the belief that everything is "work-out-able," and nothing is impossible. These skills became my compass when I embarked on my wild adventure as an expat globetrotter, hopping from one country to another.
Let's take a detour into the hilarious realm of snowboarding. Back in my twenties, I co-founded the "Powder Puff Girls," a project dedicated to empowering women in snowboarding. We shattered stereotypes, challenging the snowboard media to showcase badass women ruling the slopes, not just posing in bikinis. And you know what? We made an impact!
Let me tell you about this hilarious adventure we had. We were all about giving these awesome young women a chance to rock the snowboarding world. We didn't just teach them the ropes; we equipped them with all the tools and know-how to organize their own training camps and events. It was like a snowboarding revolution sweeping the nation!
You won't believe our secret weapon. Brace yourself... we asked them! Yep, that's right, we simply asked these incredible ladies to join our movement. And guess what? The overwhelming response was a resounding YES! Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is just ask. Who knew, right?
We were all about showing the way with awesome role models and a whole lot of asking. We had snowboard clubs popping up left and right in Norway, all run by passionate young women and men in their teens and twenties. From top to bottom, these ladies were making the decisions and running the show.
I mean, even our secretary of general and the President of the Norwegian Snowboard Association were rocking it as females! Our board of directors had equal representation, and that vibe trickled down to the grassroots level. We became the talk of the town in the Norwegian sports scene and even gained attention internationally. And it all started with someone having the guts to ask us.
Now, get this: many of these powerhouse women who were part of our movement are now calling the shots in major Norwegian and international companies. They're turning the world on its head and changing the game.
But let's not forget, that the Nordic countries are on fire when it comes to flipping the script on traditional roles. In Finland, for instance, their government back in 2019 was led by women under 40 in all five major political parties. Talk about girl power! They've got gender quotas, progressive parental leave, subsidized childcare, and more. It's all about enabling and empowering women to take the stage in every aspect of society. Go, Nordic countries!
Me, a Mom Athlete?
Now, let me take you back to a personal story. So, here I was, facing a choice between pursuing my dream career in sports science or following my husband's international escapades while being a stay-at-home mom. It was a tough call, and let me tell you, not everyone was on board with my decision. Heck, I had plenty of my own doubts I had to battle with. But I've always been a rebel, living life on my own terms.
On one hand, I wanted to be there for my kids, unlike my own parents who were always hustling. They worked tirelessly to put food on the table, but I wanted something different for my little ones.
But here's the thing, I had to get super creative to chase my dreams. Thank goodness for technology! I could coach clients from wherever I was, whenever I wanted. It has been a wild ride, but hey, I'm all in when I commit.
And you know what? Everything I've achieved in my life, I owe it to the skills and self-belief I gained through sports. And now, as a mom, I see the incredible impact sports have on my own children. Last weekend, I was at their baseball game, witnessing a rollercoaster of emotions. My heart was singing hallelujah, even though it was tough to see them make mistakes and feel disappointed.
As parents, we often try to cushion their falls and tell them not to run (although I'm always tempted to yell, "Run, Forest, RUN!" haha!). But here's the thing, we need to let them experience failure and learn who they truly are. It's through sports that they find their wings and soar.
Being active in sports is like watching a mini-series that helps you discover who you really are and who you were destined to be.
I rebelled against the idea that a middle-aging (or close to middle age) mom could be an athlete, like a real athlete, with training plan, coach, races and priorities that did not involve a stroller and a diaperbag. It wasn't before my previous coach, Tenille Hoogland, challenged my mental mindset about what being an athlete means, that I started calling myself an athlete.
IT's only a failure if you stay down on the ground
Let's face it, we all mess up from time to time. But in sports, those blunders are just pit stops on the road to success. We get countless chances to learn and improve. It's like a never-ending buffet of life lessons, with an extra side of challenges to keep things spicy!
Sports are like those tiny action figures that prepare your kids for the big, bad world. They learn valuable skills that'll help them tackle major life hurdles down the road. It's like they're earning a Ph.D. in Awesome!
Now, when it comes to signing your kids up for sports, it's a total no-brainer. It's not just about healthy habits, getting fit, or becoming relationship experts. It's about preparing them for life's crazy rollercoaster ride!
So, do me a favour, and cut those metaphorical pillows you've placed under your kids' arms. It's time to give them a gentle nudge off the metaphorical cliff of life. Just kidding, people! Please don't take that literally. This is not advice, and I don't want to be held responsible for any cliff-related incidents. But hey, if they're strapped into a snowboard and know what they're doing, go for it!
And can we please retire the phrase "DON'T RUN!"? Seriously, let those little feet fly! They'll learn to conquer the world one sprint at a time.
So here's the deal: sign up your daughter and son for sports, and watch them bloom like superstar athletes, which most likely will NOT happen literally, but they'll learn to tackle life like badass people they were meant to be.
Grab your phone and become their personal documentarian, or hey, why not join in the fun and do a workout of your own while you cheer them on? Just make sure it's allowed.
Or, you know go for a run and be your own cheerleader!
So from cultural norms, stereotypes and the obstacles of our own minds - life through sports can enrich your kids' lives more than you know. It's time to get our daughters moving!
If you'd like help designing a fun, progressive and effective training program for your daughter, please let me know! I would be happy to help you out and deliver an adaptive training program that fits into your daughter's life. Send email Info@tiredmomruns.com
Yours in sports (and constant fatigue),