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Dr. J. on Running

Take Two

A Message to my Daughters

Published July 24, 2000 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Since my last column, my daughters' jog bras have come out of the laundry the same sizes they entered, and the girls' running has improved as a result. They enjoyed their brother's lessons in manhood so much that I decided to provide them an equal dose of advice. Where else would they find objective guidance on becoming real women?

My daughters should learn that real men have delicate egos. Although some women run faster than some men, women will always need mankind to pace them and push them. After all, why would real women run fast if not to be chased by real men?

My daughters should understand that men need quality time alone with their peers. At least once a week, men should run together so they can talk about manly matters, overtly exercise their competitive needs, and exorcise devilish thoughts from their systems. It is far better for real women to encourage such bonds, than to risk having stressed-out and depressed husbands. Some of my most productive workdays followed early morning runs with the guys.

My daughters should know that real women do not let vanity get in the way of running. They understand that mascara and foundation run off with the sweat of their brow, and that a healthy glow comes from a healthy body and not a paint job. Thus, they should avoid suntan and sunburns through sunscreen and lip balm, and help prevent skin cancer and early wrinkles.

As they traveled through puberty towards womanhood, my daughters have experienced changes to their bodies and to their moods. They have grown more in some places than in others, and they have developed a new awareness of their shapes. They should know that real women stay fit by keeping physically active. As a result, they should be content with the forms that follow their functions.

In a perfect world, we all would have the ability to run wherever and whenever we desire. Alas, this real world imposes space and time constraints, and real women accept the facts lest they test their fate. At any time of day or night, on any trail or road, at any age or speed, real women avoid running alone.

In much the same vain, my daughters must choose their outfits for function and comfort. Real women know the importance of dressing right and dressing safe. Overdressing increases the risk of heatstroke, and under-dressing increases the danger of traffic accidents. As such, bun-huggers and mid-rift tank tops belong in races, not on neighborhood jogs.

In a society that preaches inclusion but practices exclusion, my daughters can enjoy the luxury of women-only races, as the men in the family cheer them on.

As partners in parenting, real women have primary responsibility for the physical and mental welfare of their children. My daughters must learn to replace television time with family running time. From tying on the helmets as they stroll an infant in a baby jogger, to tying the shoelaces of a toddler on the track, real women teach their children by example.

And as their children grow older and discover competition, my daughters must refrain from living their unfulfilled ambitions through their children. Real cross-country moms haul the harriers and their mud from meet to meet, to cheer on an honest effort and console a bruised ego.

Real women are feminine because they want to be, not because they have to be. Real women are in control of their health and in charge of their happiness. Real women run.

Kamal Jabbour's favorite running partners are real women. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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