Running will make a man out of you

One of my favorite Disney movies has to be Mulan. In an era where women were always proper, quiet, and never stepped outside of their society-imposed bounds, Mulan showed strength and poise. There’s a lot any woman can learn from watching the movie, and I think the message of strength and overcoming adversity is one particularly powerful for younger girls.

Now, when I say that running will make a man out of you, I’m referring not to a physical transformation, but rather one that applies to a mindset and goes hand-in-hand with traditional stereotypes. And, that song from Mulan is simply amazing.

According to The Art of Manliness: The seven vital characteristics of a man are as follows:

  1. Physical
  2. Functional
  3. Sexual
  4. Emotional
  5. Intellectual
  6. Interpersonal
  7. Other (referring to ambition, pride, honor, competitiveness and sense of adventure)

Of those seven vital characteristics, running has an impact on almost all of them, though the “sexual” one is definitely up for debate. Anyone who has seen me toward the end of a long run knows that I am no where near “sexy.” I resemble more of a hunchbacked, ugly beast ready to consume anything that looks edible – including small dogs and squirrels.

But the song that got me thinking about this topic, as referenced earlier, has some amazing lyrics that any runner can latch onto and use for motivation.

When you first start out training for a race, you can feel a lot like one of Po’s new recruits. I definitely felt like that when I started training for my Marathon. The portion of the song where the recruits start lamenting about their lot in life can strike a chord with runners when they enter the initial or middle phases of training.

“I’m never gonna catch my breath. Say goodbye to those who knew me. Boy was I a fool in school for cutting gym.”

It’s easy as a runner to feel like you’re never going to be able to have the strength to reach that final battle. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would make it across that finish line in Pittsburgh, but I did know that the lines from this song would motivate through the last half of the race.

I sang the chorus of the song to myself a lot in those later miles…

“We must be swift as a coursing river. With all of the force of a great typhoon. With all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon.”


About AlyL

A wandering spirit drawn to running, music, theater, and those that give life to others. Functioning in a life that's next to normal.
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