My response to ‘Why Women Should Not Run’

There is a Facebook group that I belong to called Favorite Run. It is an open forum for runners, mostly new runners, to ask whatever questions they have about running and get answers from the running community. About a month or so ago, a woman posted an article on the forum and asked if the article was legitimate or not. The article is Why Women Should Not Run.

I bring this up now because I actually just read the article for the first time last night. When I initially saw the woman’s post, I simply dismissed the article based on the title without ever reading the article and responded to the woman that she should do the same.

My good friend, Lanfair, recently came across the same article and asked for my opinion of it. I read the article last night and this is my response.

running on treadmill women

DH Kiefer is the author of Why Women Should Not Run.  Kiefer’s argument to why women should not run centers on one facet of the gym community: women who run on the treadmill at one pace for miles, day after day, and never reach their goal of losing weight. He uses this group of female runners to explain why women (all of us) should not run, be it Susie Q who’s trying to lose some weight or Shalane Flanagan, arguably America’s best female élite distance runner in modern times.

The three below reasons are at the heart of Kiefer’s argument for women wasting their time by running:

1.  They’re [Women are] often intensely recruited for fund-raisers like Team-In-Training, lured by the promises of slim, trim bodies and good health resulting from the months of cardio training leading to marathons—in addition to doing something for charity.

My response: The best way to recruit anybody, regardless of the cause, is to show people their potential, i.e. what the program in question could help you to become. For female runners, the potential would look like Shalane Flanagan. Shalane Flanagan is at the top of her game: a strong and dedicated runner who is healthy in body and diet. Her physique, thin and strong (the ‘ideal’), is the result of all her hard work and dedication to the sport of running.

Team-in-Training offers to help people complete a race while at the same time supporting a good cause, in this case the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They will coach you through the specific program you choose to help you meet your goal, give you exercise routines, guides, and welcome you into their supportive running community. Team-in-Training essentially offers you a program to reach your goal and become healthy, which also means being a healthy weight.

Here is where the thorn in my side comes in with Kiefer’s argument. Kiefer does not acknowledge that exercise in general takes hard work and dedication, much less exercising to lose weight. He also fails to say that any workout – aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (strength training), requires variety in training to pay off. For example, long distance runs are great for endurance but not necessarily for melting the fat off. If you want to lose the pounds, add speed and hill workouts to your regular routine for the ideal effect. He attacks groups like Team-in-Training because they don’t offer a guaranteed solution, i.e. you WILL look perfect and ideal after going through their program. Nor can they.

running women

Working out, whether it be doing cardio or lifting weights or going to yoga classes, is tough.  If it were easy, everyone would do it. Foundations like Team-in-Training give you an excellent, personal, in-depth service to help you on the way to becoming a healthier ‘skinnier’ you. They are not the end all, be all nor should they be. Anything worth anything in this world takes work. Life has no quick fixes. If someone is trying to sell you a quick fix, it’s most likely a scam.

2.  Some physique coaches prescribe 20-plus hours per week of pre-contest cardio for women, which essentially amounts to a part-time job.

My response: Yes, some physique coaches do prescribe strenuous workouts that take up a lot of time…BUT not all. People who prescribe 20+ hours per week workouts are either catering to A) élite athletes or B) people in training to become élite athletes or to go to the Olympics or some other highly competitive event.

The majority of people don’t fit into categories A or B. Most trainers work at gyms and cater to all of us ‘average Joes.’ Trainers are like us (really they are, they just choose to earn money by helping others work out). They are people who know just as well as the rest of us that jobs and careers take a lot of time out of the week. Good trainers will help you figure out how to get your exercise in in-between your demanding schedule.

Yes, exercising takes time and effort too but you only need 30 minutes a day to maintainyour weight (this is also assuming you have a healthy diet). As long as you have a healthy diet and you have a regular and diverse exercise regiment that really pumps up your heart rate, you will see results. If you need help/advice, there are plenty of us ready to give it.

3.  Steady-state activities like this devastate the female metabolism. This happens with men, too, but in different ways.

My response: I agree with this statement but not as Keifer chose to word it. He makes a blanket statement about both men and women but picks on only one group to make his point seem valid. He makes this statement without giving any further explanation on this particular statement. Kiefer just skips over to his next point of his article (which has nothing to do with the statement in question) and just leaves the reader hanging with the thought that there’s something wrong with women’s metabolism, i.e. body.

I agree with Kiefer that metabolism in men and women are different but not drastically. Men tend to have more muscle mass than women so some activities come easier to them. To be honest, I am not a doctor nor scientist nor do I have the knowledge to elaborate further.

What really irks me about the above statement, is that it is tantamount to me telling you that both men and women have problems in the workforce but women really are the main problem. That’s it – I’m not going to give you further elaboration on why women are the main problem for the workforce.

You’re going to have to take my word on it.

Yes, steady-state activity (i.e. running 7 miles at a 9.5 minute pace each mile) will not help you lose weight. It might at first depending on your lifestyle, but eventually if you only run long distances and don’t add variety to your training, you’ll find yourself in a funk.

Running or doing any other activity to meet a goal or to lose weight takes hard work and dedication. It takes time, effort, and sweat. There are no quick fixes or short cuts in life.

DH Kiefer’s article really got under my skin. As both a female and runner, I am mad. This article is as degrading as someone trying to tell me to get my ass back in the home because I don’t belong in the workforce. This article takes my knowledge for granted, Kiefer thinks he can use technical language and speak above me to sell me into submission. The problem with this article is that DH Kiefer feeds on women’s shortcomings for a desired effect. He is a scam artist.

I love running so much so that I started a blog about running simply because I can’t stop talking about it. I love it for its positive effects on my life. My life is better because of running. Now, I have competitively run for 6 of my 13 years running and my dad is a very knowledgable triathlete, so I could smell Kiefer’s scam a mile away.

I can’t stand the thought that Kiefer actually sold his idea to other women that they are not running right and therefore, they should not even try. Maybe people are not running as efficiently as they could be but it’s not for lack of effort, we just need to spread wisdom and knowledge of how to best run to meet your goal.

I urge you to start a debate about this article and my response. But have a healthy debate and spread accurate knowledge – that is, knowledge that’s factual and gives the whole picture, not just a slice of it as Kiefer has chosen to do. If I wrote something you don’t agree with or that you feel you could better elaborate on, I’d like to hear it.

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