Today is my last day at the organisation where I’ve worked for more than 8 years. I started just before my 25th birthday, fresh out of law school (yep, I went to law school). I intended to stay for a year, but my office turned into a stable force in my life few a number of very difficult years. It was my colleagues sponsoring me for my first 10km that got me running, and support from my managers that meant I could leave on time to go to lectures. I carved a path out for myself, influenced how things were done and hopefully made an impact. I’d be lying if I said I’d enjoyed every moment, jobs are still jobs and there have definitely been moments where I’ve loathed mine, but eight years in one place leaves an impact, and it will be weird never going back.
When I applied for my MSc a few years ago I said I wanted to talk with authority about women in sport. I still do. Academia gets me going. I have a talent for research and sharing ideas, and that’s what I want to do with my life. After the toughest application process I’ve ever been through I’ve been accepted to undertake doctoral research in management at Birkbeck College, University of London where I’ll mostly be found in the Sport Business Centre chatting gender in sport.
My title? ‘You Got Chicked: images and representations of women in ultra running’.
I want to understand the identities that form around women in sport, how these are created and imposed, and how sports like ultra running might present opportunities to challenge gender-based expectations in sport and society. I am so excited to get stuck in, from the reading I’ve done so far this isn’t an area that’s been explored in a great deal of depth, and there’s so much to pick apart and start trying to understand. I’m literally bouncing up and down thinking about it! This is the dream, getting to spend three years exploring what I’m most passionate about.
I still can’t believe my hard work has paid off, it’s like I’m living a dream. I’ve been contemplating whether my future would include a PhD since the second term of my masters degree. Applying took the best part of six months, producing a well researched proposal (basically an essay) and subjecting myself to a little chat that left me unable to speak it felt so intense. Even once I’d been offered a place there were more applications for funding, and a tense wait to see if any money would be coming my way. PhD funding isn’t easy to secure, particularly outside the sciences and particularly if you’re proposing research you’ve dreamed up, rather than taking on a brief. It continues to blow my mind that I’ve been fully funded for the next three years to do something I love. To know that people you respect have that much faith in you is something else.
Around my studies I’ll also be building my experience in the fitness industry working at Heartcore, one of my favourite studios in London. I’m really looking forward to getting involved and being part of the client services team, so make sure you come say hi and check out some of the great classes. Of course there’ll also be training for The Speed Project, blogging and working on all sorts of other projects keeping me busy, but I can’t wait! You know they say that you should try and build a life you love? I think I may just be getting there.
*Image: Anna Rachel Photography