Women’s running has continued to grow dramatically in the U.S. Since 1987, female race finishers rose five-fold (Competitor Group, 2014). Last year more than 7.6 million women ran a road race (Logan, 2013) and the total number of women runners in the U.S. increased to more than 20 million (Competitor Group, 2014, p. 11). Women now represent more than 50 percent of participants at marathons. Ryan Lamppa, research statistician at Running USA predicts that women could make up to 60 percent of race finishers in the near future (Logan, 2013). The increase in women entering the sport demonstrates the importance of research aimed at understanding how running is communicated to women.
From a young age girls derive their self-esteem from their body weight and shape, while boys pull from a variety of attributes. That is why programs, such as Girls on the Run, are so important. Girls on the Run not only teaches girls about running, but it builds their self-esteem by teaching them characteristics to love about themselves outside of their body and physical attributes. These beliefs of body image and shape create a socially constructed ideal of beauty from a young age.
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