Adventures in Books… Running Like a Girl


“Alexandra Heminsley had high hopes: the arse of an athlete, the waist of a supermodel, the speed of a gazelle. Defeated by gyms and bored of yoga, she decided to run.

Her first attempt did not end well.

Six years later, she has run five marathons in two continents.

But, as her dad says, you run with your head as much as with your legs. So, while this is a book about running, it’s not just about running.

You could say it’s about ambition (yes, getting out of bed on a rainy Sunday morning counts), relationships (including talking to the intimidating staff in the trainer shop), as well as your body (your boobs don’t have to wobble when you run). But it’s also about realising that you can do more than you ever thought possible.

Very funny, very honest and very emotional, whether you’re in serious training or thinking about running for the bus, this is a book for anyone who after wine and crisps for supper a few too many times thinks they might . . . just might . . . like to run like a girl.”

I’d been wanting to read this for quite a while and finally found it at the library and scoped it up as I was planning to go to Alexandra’s talk at the Swim Literature Festival in May, but ended up sailing all weekend so missed it. I’m glad I found it though as it ended up being a impromptu running club book club last month, which was great fun.

I really liked this book. It was real and fun to read. It reminded me of my first attempts at running – thinking I could just head out when I decided to and run for 30 minutes. I ended up sat on the pavement in pain as my body could not hack it. I then gave up for years and didn’t try again until I had learnt a bit more about fitness and found a plan to take me from a non-runner to a 5k runner. The feelings Alexandra went through were the same as I had it was a great reminder of how far I have come.

I was also struck by how similar our approach to post event fitness was. You have a high and I was so glad to not have to train for the event anymore, I stopped training all together. The weeks dragged on into months and then I basically had to start again to build back up to running further than 5km. It was disheartening, but now I realise how common it actually is. It is great to sign up for events, but training has to come from a place of love of the sport, not just to be able to say ‘I’ve done that’. You have to want to make it part of your life and a consistent part and do it for the love of doing it each day. It takes everyone a different amount of time to realise this and find the sport that works for them and what works for motivation along the way.

This book made me feel good about how far I have come and why I run and challenge myself and think about where I want to go with running. I love the post running high of knowing I’ve pushed myself with each run. I find running difficult and could easily give up, but the club really help motivate me and spur me to keep trying. I don’t care that I’m not the best or keeping up with the main group. I like that I know I can run. I would love to be one of those people who can run in new places and see them. I don’t spend much time looking around when I run, so that is something I want to work on and work towards doing. It would be lovely to get up early and explore a new city by foot.

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