Own Your Sisterhood

Des Canyon Vista
Deserae Clarke

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney

What makes a Trail Sister?  Are there requirements one must meet to join the sisterhood of the trails?  A certain distance covered, pace maintained, number of trucker hats purchased?

In a society that constantly prods us to measure ourselves and others against manufactured standards one might assume there’s a certain resume required, but in reality there are only three things needed:

  1. You need to be a sister (sorry guys, but you can still be supporters).
  2. You need to love trails.
  3. You need to own your sisterhood.

That’s it, no magic formula.  No rite of passage or standard to attain.

As a woman, one of the things that pains me the most is watching other women limit themselves, undersell their abilities, and fail to recognize their worth.  Often we are our own harshest critics, but we project our own insecurities onto others and assume that we don’t fit.

“I’m too slow, they don’t want me to run with them.”

“I haven’t been running long enough to share my experience with others, they’ll think I’m a fraud.”

“The trails I run on aren’t difficult enough, or I don’t own gear by xyz, I’m not a ‘real’ trail runner.”

The funny thing is, I think many women struggle with these things regardless of where they fall on the experience scale.  I’ve heard elites talk about imposter syndrome and lying on the side of the trail throwing a pity party during a race and having to Google “crying while running.”  If they struggle then certainly all of us mere mortals will. And, the other funny thing is that when we find the bravery to own our sisterhood, most of the time we’re met with nothing but acceptance.  We’re all out here doing something we love, pushing our own personal limits while enjoying the beauty of our natural world. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been running for a decade or a month. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning national-level races or battling cut-offs.  It doesn’t matter if we have the latest high-tech running gear or makeshifts and hand me downs (remember our “ancestors” ran with maple syrup bottles and cotton tube socks). We are all trail sisters and we’re all equals.

The thing is, just as no one can deny your sisterhood, no one can bestow it on you either.  You need to step forward and take you place. The amazing thing is, when you find confidence in running, it spreads beyond the trail and to all the other areas of your life.

Deserae Clarke

Deserae Clarke

Des is a crunchy, plant-powered, trail-loving ultra runner. She grew up exploring the woods of central PA, and currently lives and runs in Arizona.

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