Running Like A Girl

This week I find myself in a similar situation to Gilly: I am in London for three days for work. Last night I had fab Vietnamese meal – there’s a significant lack of Asian food up North, so this felt very exotic.  However, there has been no running.

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On my way to London I finished “Running like a Girl” by Alexandra Heminsley. This is the first proper “runners book” that I’ve read. The premise is simple: she never thought that she could run, until the day she signed up for the London marathon. The book is about her training, and the impact running has had in her life.

As soon as I saw Caitlin Moran’s endorsement on the front, I knew it would be an entertaining read. She doesn’t disappoint: Alexandra writes with a tone of confidence, and you can imagine her spilling the details with you over a glass of wine.

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What I really appreciated about the book was her honesty: she is entirely relatable. She talks about what goes through her mind when she runs: the highs, the lows, the boredom, the highs again. She never mentions specific time goals or race times, which means that you can identify with it, whatever event you’re training for. It’s a great touch which prevents it from being “look at me and my training, you too can learn the secrets to a sub 3:00 marathon”. At one point she even makes light of her evangelistic tendencies, but without actually doing it to the reader. However, by the end of the book, she has run five marathons, so perhaps underplays her achievements somewhat!

It’s a light read, and focuses on the impact of running rather than the act of running, which I liked. By the end, I wanted to undertake the marathon challenge for myself, and have started to look for upcoming ones I could train for. Marathons have always been daunting to me, and seems to be a little bit like A-Levels, or a planning a family Christmas: it requires a large amount of commitment, and for something that will only ever be a tough slog on the day*. Alexandra makes it seem manageable. Tough yes, but achievable if you’re strong mentally as well as physically. And that is what is great about the book.

At the end, there’s a short section of appendix-style chapters where she addresses the issues of running like a girl (message: nail polish and tampax make a hell of a difference), and highlights the plight that female runners have gone through before us so we can run our races. That was so interesting, because – I don’t know if you picked up on it already – I am interested in (and opinionated on!) women’s role in society. Did you know that as recently as the 60s women weren’t allowed in the Boston marathon, or any long distance race, over concerns that they would lose their fertility?!

All in all it was an entertaining read, and a great book for someone who is either contemplating running for the first time, or trying to make the leap from a half to a full marathon (me!).

Total Warrior was on Saturday. I’ll do a proper write up once the official photos are available on Wednesday and I have found any of our team. After the event, my muddy, stinky trainers were relegated to the patio where they were rained on for 24 hours. So now they have to go to the great shoe rack in the sky, and I have no runners, which is very disconcerting!

As I am sans-runners in London, my plan tomorrow is to do some sit ups, lunges and stretches. Our dance studio has an “Abs August” competition. Here’s my before pic:

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And just because I like this view, here’s Durham when I left yesterday morning:

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Hope you’re all having a good week!

Ellie B

*A-Levels are worthwhile. Stay in school.

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