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Real Women Run: Running as Feminist Embodiment

Author: Sandra Faulkner

Real Women Run: Running as Feminist Embodiment is a series of linked essays, haiku, and analysis of women’s embodied stories of running: how they run, how running fits into the context of their lives and relationships, how they enact or challenge cultural scripts of women’s activities and normative running bodies, and what running means for their lives and identities. This ethnography investigates how women’s narratives and experiences of running subvert mainstream discourses of what being female and being active mean in terms of identity, motivation, and practice. Through ethnographic investigation, including interviews with women runners, poetic inquiry, participant observation at the 2014 Gay Games, and textual analysis of women’s web-based writing about running, Real Women Run paces readers through women’s embodied running experiences: identities in motion, the inseparable mind-body connection, and running as social and solitary, pleasurable and painful, dangerous and empowering.

I’m finally doing the research project I’ve thought about for years…
I’m running toward the feminist ethnographer I want to be.     

– Sandra L. Faulkner
Real Women Run book cover

The web-based material that here accompanies each chapter of Real Women Run presents aspects of the embodied fieldwork through sound and image. Using video as a component in this ethnography is a way to help readers think differently about women and running; it offers another nuanced layer of women’s embodied experience of running. In addition, the soundscapes help present author Sandra Faulkner’s embodied presence in this ethnographic project. The sounds of running—the noise, the grunts, the breathing, the encouragement, the disappointment—jog listeners through training runs, races, and the in situ embodiment of a sport women both enjoy and loathe.
Real Women Run: Running as Feminist Embodiment can be purchased on the Routledge website.

Real Women Run webpages designed by Sarah Abbott.

Facebook: Real Women Run

An online community for all women-identified runners, a space for all of our bodies, abilities, and running experiences—pleasurable and painful, dangerous and empowering. We are all real women running.

Video: Body Running

What if

we run by feel like
what we feel is what we run
like run full of feel

Chapbook: Haiku as Running Log

First Mile

legs leaded down tight
hips fisted like a wish-bone
sleepy muscles bite   

Chapter 1: Women Running

Woman, Runner

a woman runner
is a woman who runs is
a woman runner

Chapter 2: Woman, Running

You are

if you run, you are
see yourself as a runner
athlete woman run

Chapter 3: Real Women Run

Women Running

safety dressed in form
Caution: RUNNERS on the road
dogs cat call danger

Chapter 4: Women Running Online

Run Body

thunder with your thighs
running is like being born
saying yes to cheese

Chapter 5: Running as Feminist Embodiment

Cat Calls

don’t call us a girl
don’t call us a girl jogger
fierce women running