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Brave new world 261 Fearless

Running pioneer Kathrine Switzer’s infamous 1967 Boston Marathon run has led to the creation of a running network which is uniting and empowering women around the world

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned ultramarathoner, you’ll know running is much more than just the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Running has the power to change you, physically and mentally. Every challenge you set yourself can help you grow in strength, confidence and self-esteem.

Discovering you can do something you (and often others) never thought you could and that your body is capable of so much more than you ever gave it credit for, is incredibly liberating. Something you started merely as a hobby or to get fit can have a huge knock-on effect on the rest of your life. The self-belief gained from running changes your daily outlook, your resilience to cope with problems and gives you the confidence to try new things and push your limits. Running has an incredible capacity to empower people and if it’s allowed to do so, running can change the world.

Running history

One woman who has shown running can have a globally significant effect is Kathrine Switzer. When she was 20, she lined up at the start of her first marathon. She chose Boston because her athletics coach had regaled her with stories of how wonderful it was. First marathon nerves were running high, but she was feeling determined. A mile into the course, the press truck passed her and a race official jumped from it and ran towards Kathrine, shouting at her to get out of the race and give him her number. He felt she had cheated to get her place. She hadn’t. She had checked the rule book and there was no mention of gender. It was simply assumed that women wouldn’t enter because they weren’t thought of as capable to run 26.2 miles. The official tore at her bib – number 261 – and tried to eject her from the race. Instead, her boyfriend, who was running next to her, pushed the official off the course and Kathrine ran on. She knew she had to finish. She knew women were capable of running marathons, but she had to prove it. And she did just that, changing the history of women’s running forever.

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About Women’s Running

Our new-look magazine is going from strength to strength, as are our tribe of happy runners! This issue we spoke to Mara Hafezi, a runner who is defying both her own and others’ expectations by sailing through the Marathon des Sables and by encouraging women of colour to take up running. If you’re inspired by Mara, our beginner’s guide will get you off the sofa and into your trainers in no time, and then for a bit of extra motivation, you might want to have a glance at our half marathon training guides. There’s one for beginners as well as for those of you who want to smash your PB at the next 13.1-miler. We focus on speedwork this issue too, and how building on your speed can power the rest of your running – even if it hurts while you’re doing it! Plus this issue, we’ve got the only core workout you’ll ever need: build it into your running schedule to see quick results with your strength and speed on the road. Then wind down with our feature on Sophrology: just how can this mindful practice help us live more in the moment and actually run better?