I grew up thinking that other females were the enemy. Let's face it, we don't always treat each other very well. For whatever reason, there is a lot of backstabbing, backbiting, and backhanded behavior that goes on amongst the gentler half of the species. I have been both victim and aggressor throughout my life, and to this day, I have very few female relationships that I would call solid, honest, or even healthy.
When I started running, I didn't know where the route would take me. It was a whim, really, something different to change up my long-tired gym routine. At that time, I never foresaw myself living an existence of perpetual training-racing-recovering. But as my lifestyle evolved, and I began to change physically and emotionally, I noticed that other things in my life began to change. I saw some of my female friendships disappear.
There were a few women that I called friends at that time didn't share my newfound passion for exercise, fitness, or racing. In fact, they not only didn't care that I was doing it, they thought I was crazy for doing it. Slowly, over time, I realized they didn't want to hear about a race experience, or a nagging ache or pain. I knew they had specific feelings regarding what I was doing, and I have my suspicions as to what they were. Maybe they thought I was neglecting my family, maybe they thought I was being obsessive, or maybe they were just lazy, and I thought I was crazy for working out all the time, that I should have better things to do. I will never know. One of my friends simply starting ignoring me. Another actually rolled her eyes and smirked at me if I dared to speak of anything having anything at all to do with my newly-discovered hobby. I have another friend who, to this day, always tells me I'm overdoing it and that I'm going to get hurt. And I will tell you that even though I probably bored them to death talking about running and exercising stuff, it paled in comparison to our other topics of conversation.
I went through a period of depression over this, because I thought that friends supported each other in their endeavors. And I couldn't understand why I couldn't even get a "woo hoo, congratulations" when I finished a race. I certainly would be - and was - supportive in their achievements. What bothered me most is that I understood that we didn't have to share hobbies, goals, or even every common interest, but why push me away for doing something that is good for me? I wasn't a heroin addict or anything.
One of the things that I learned very early on when I became interested in triathlon was that finding kindred spirits was crucial in success. Kindred spirits in this case are those folks that are always thinking about the next race, the next workout, the new running shoe, who just live and love the lifestyle. A good friend of mine who was already an established triathlete told me to find a local tri club so that I would have training mates. So, before I even competed in my first race, I went on the search for a local tri club.
As luck would have it, a new club was just getting started where I live. I jumped in with both feet and never looked back. I met incredible athletes, weekend warriors, and fellow triathlon junkies. It was great!
The byproduct of having joined my tri club, and training and racing with people who share my passion (read: obsession) for the sport has been the bonds I have begun forming with the women in the club. It was an unexpected bonus that has developed over time, but has struck me in a powerful way.
The women that I have met in the past year or two are mothers, grandmothers, wives, professionals. Many of us are learning how to do it all as we go, and many of us are finding ourselves through this journey. I have found greater support from these women - many of whom I don't know nearly as well as I'd like - than from most anyone during any other period of my life. What I am learning is that women don't always tear each other down, but that they can be instrumental in building each other up and being each other's greatest champions.
Do not get discouraged if you feel a lack of support in your fitness journey. Find a club, turn to your social media, find some way to meet up with other kindred spirits - in person or virtually - so that you can walk the walk with others who share the same feelings, insecurities, struggles, and triumphs as you.