Friday, January 31, 2014

Book review "Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run"

I'm a reader. Anytime I start doing something new, I search out books on the topic to read.  So I put a bunch of books about running on my wish list and my cousin got me several for Christmas.  The first book about running I read was "Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run" by Alexandra Heminsley.  I absolutely loved this book!  It was both inspiring and hilarious at the same time.


The book is part memoir, part running guide.  The first half of the book focuses on the author and her journey.  One of my favorite aspects is the author's candid discussion about some of the hardships she faced.  This section is prevented from being overly self-indulgent by the author's ability to bring in stories that put her running journey into a larger context.  She discusses things like the history of women in distance running and the fact that they weren't even allowed to participate as late as the 1970s.  People literally thought distance running could make a woman's uterus fall out!  There is an incredible story about Kathrine Switzer who ran the Boston Marathon in 1967.  She signed up using her initials so it wasn't evident she was a woman.  When one of the race directors saw a woman running the course, he physically jumped on the course to try to stop her.  She managed to finish anyway but her time wasn't recorded.  The second part of the book is more of a practical guide to help the reader on their own journey.  

Each chapter begins with inspirational quotes.  But often the author's own words are just as inspirational as the quotes, such as the following:  "once you have taught yourself that running isn't about breaking boundaries you thought you could never smash, and realized that it is about discovering those boundaries were never there in the first place, you can apply it to anything."  

Here is another gem:  "Running is awful.  It feels unnatural, unnecessary, and painful.  It can hijack you with breathlessness, cripple you with panic, and overwhelm you with self-consciousness....It is also the pleasure of being outside on a sunny day, feeling the prickle of the sun on your skin.  It is the delight of feeling your body temperature rise despite the crisp winter breeze against your face....And, as I have learned, it is an honor, a privilege, and a gift." 

The book does a great job of talking about the emotional and mental sides of running, not just the physical.  I would recommend it for anyone new to running who wants to learn more about it as well as to experienced runners looking for funny stories and renewed inspiration.  It is written exceptionally well.  I looked up the author's background once I finished the book and learned that she was a journalist long before she was a runner, which shows in the quality of writing.  I leave you with a Youtube video of the author that I feel displays her sense of humor and the sensibility of the book.


Are there any running books you would recommend?

14 comments:

  1. I LOVED this book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it too! The authors tone is really what makes it great! I did a review of it on my blog as well.

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    1. Yeah, I absolutely loved her writing style! I breezed through the book very quickly because it was just so fun!

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  2. I've never read a running book before. This one sounds good. I'd heard the story about the first woman to run Boston before and just love it. It was incredibly courageous of her.

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    1. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something to read :). The second part may not be useful for people who are already runners since it offers tips for beginners but the first part is a great memoir.

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    2. I'm such a beginning runner though so it might be great for me!

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  3. This looks like a great book! I'll put it on my list of books to read! Great review!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother. Born To Run is a good one and I started reading Eat and Run.

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    1. Ooh, thanks for the recommendations, I'll add these to my list! I love reading about other peoples running journeys, why they run, and what they get out of it.

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  5. This book will definitely have to go on my "to read" list! Most of the running books I read are more instructional, so it will be nice to read a memoir style book :)

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  6. This sounds like a great book!!!

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    1. I really enjoyed it, the author was a very talented writer.

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  7. This sounds like a book I will enjoy (pinned it to my Pinterest board). I've read Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running http://www.amazon.com/Sole-Sisters-Stories-Women-Running/dp/0740757113. Each chapter tells a different story about a woman and their running journey.

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    1. Oh, thanks for the recommendation! I hadn't heard of that one so I'll add it to my list.

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