Friday, August 20, 2010

Mad at Runner's World

Fabulous running
along the Hudson River Parkway
at the newly restored Chelsea Piers #61 and #62.

Women who exercise and age — and I’m guessing that’s a fair number of women — don’t have much to go on beyond common sense when it comes to determining safe and healthy ways to stay fit.

Magazine articles about women’s fitness avoid anything that remotely suggests there could be an arc (an upside and a downside) to the body’s ability to condition, train, and strengthen or that there may be ways to adapt to the realities as we age. And when I say downside, I mean the inevitabilities that come with living a long life such as arthritis, use of oxygen, changes in metabolism, etc. I believe magazine editors avoid such articles because they think it’s bad for circulation — readership numbers.

Is it wrong to suspect that the only valuable readership is a young readership?

Case in point: Runner’s World (online) just published a column ( by Kristin Armstrong (Lance’s ex-wife). She complains about age-related problems like a spot of fat somewhere in the hip vicinity but she vows to go on running, regardless of age-related infirmities such as this. She’s 36 years old. Aging is only acceptable if it’s not very old.

Runner’s World deserves serious censure for this sort of tactic but they are hardly the only ones. Even magazines like More, which is aimed at older women, target not exactly older women but women in their 40s at the oldest.

Commentary on Armstrong’s piece was predictably polite. Even in disappointment, women lead with grace. We need to get a lot more vocal if this is the best the magazine we’ve subscribed to for most of our running careers can do.

Sidebar: Stuck with a less-than-perfect running bra

I am a feminist who would never think of burning her bra. And from what I’ve read, bra burning was more myth than fact.

In fact most women runners embrace the bra though finding a good running bra isn’t easy. You have to turn to catalogues and reader reviews for the most comprehensive selection, which means trying them on and finding a good one can take months.

Most women with large breasts (I know whereof I speak on this matter) are not thoroughly pleased. Recent studies clarify what we’ve known for years. Our breasts aren’t easily contained! With continual impact they move in a figure 8, which isn’t the up/down motion bras were designed to handle. [note: I remember seeing such a figure 8 performed by a stripper in “The Graduate.” Who would have guessed we all have that capability?]

While these clinical studies and facts don’t enhance the romantic notion of the breast, we must muscle on. The study of the breast is important and with this particular finding, perhaps a better bra is not far off. Here’s the whole story:

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