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Run Like a Girl

POPSUGAR / paid for by / adidas Running

Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Llyod

Ever been told that you run like a girl? adidas wants you to be proud of that.

I was running the length of the basketball court, trailing behind the pack, pumping my arms with all my might. I caught up, the ball bounced out of bounds, and the buzzer clanked its heavy clank. Halftime.

At the bench, one of the volunteer parent-coaches waved me over. "You're really running like a girl out there," he said, pointing to the court.

I was 10, only one year into what would later become a longtime affair with basketball and running. I looked at my coach with furrowed brows.

He went on to explain what proper form looks like. "You're losing a lot of energy running like that. Your arms are flying around, but you're not really covering any distance."

I nodded. I wanted to be a good basketball player, and if "running like a girl" meant I was wasting energy and would get singled out during halftime, I wanted to fix it. It wasn't until I was 22 and in graduate school completing a thesis on media portrayals of gender in sports that I thought back on that formative moment. I'd spent the 12 years after that basketball game committed to having proper form — shoulders back, elbows at my sides — not because I thought it would make me a better athlete, but because someone had told me it was the right way to move. In that moment, my muscles tensed. I was angry. Proper form was important, but why was it considered a gender issue?

Realizing this was both embarrassing and humbling, and it also helped shape how I feel about the phrase "run like a girl." Still an athlete, I'm proud to get up in the morning, lace up my adidas UltraBOOST X running shoes, and hit the pavement for a jog. I'm proud to be a runner. And I'm proud to be a girl.

Interested in learning how other runners felt about this phrase, I tapped POPSUGAR staffers for their thoughts. Here's what they had to say: