Sunday 21 October 2018

#CBR10 Book 89: "Running Like a Girl" by Alexandra Heminsley

Page count: 242 pages
Rating: 4 stars

#CBR10Bingo: Not My Wheelhouse (the book is a) non-fiction and b) about running - neither of these things are in my usual wheelhouse)

I was at a bit of a loss as to which genre or book to choose for the "Not My Wheelhouse" square on the CBR10 Bingo card, because while I primarily read romance, paranormal fantasy and YA (especially at the moment), I do try to branch out into other fiction genres every so often, and while I don't read them as often any more, I wouldn't consider science fiction or mystery or general historical and/or contemporary fiction outside my "wheelhouse". I could go for horror, but that would have meant reading an actual horror novel. I keep putting off Locke and Key, vol 5 because those books freak me out a little and I'm assuming Joe Hill has something really bad planned for the conclusion of the series.

So I settled on non-fiction. I heard about this book several years ago and added it to my TBR list. I'd completely forgotten about it until I started looking through my unread books and the non-fiction books on my TBR list on Goodreads. I am fascinated by people who run. A close friend of mine, whose youngest daughter is about three months older than my little boy, recently ran her first half marathon since giving birth and set a new personal record for time. I've known her since we were both 15 and when she told me a few years ago that she'd started long distance running, I thought she was kidding. Before she had to have her hip replaced, my mother-in-law also used to run long distance races. Before they had children, my sister and brother-in-law used to run together, for fun (I honestly don't know if they do anymore, going to guess it's difficult for them to find the time with two very rambunctious little girls). It was completely alien to me why anyone would do this, yet so many people not only do it regularly, but feel better because of it.

Alexandra Heminsley's book gave me a lot more insight into the mind of a runner. She didn't start out as one, but eventually bored by gyms and yoga, decided to start training for a marathon and initially barely managed to run as far as a block. Ms Heminsley's story of how she trained and managed to complete her first marathon, even when she thought she was going to fail, then almost stopped running, but ended up running a second one and how she just kept going from there is funny, engaging, at times very moving and I suspect it might be motivating to some. She doesn't hold back on the challenges she faced along the way and the setbacks that made her want to give up on occasion. Apparently, her father used to run, and she recounts how she stubbornly refused to listen to advice from him when she herself started doing it, only to realise that she was missing out on a lot of good tips when she finally did relent and start talking to him about her new past time.

The first three quarters of the book is Ms Heminsley's story about her running career, culminating with her running a women's only marathon in San Francisco. She'd almost given up her training and her intention of going, until she realised just how recently, women weren't even allowed to run these races and found new inspiration to keep going. The final quarter is all practical advice to anyone who wants to take up running - which shoes to pick, how to select the correct sports-bra, other gear to get, how to get started etc. While anyone with two legs can run, it makes it easier if you have the right attitude and equipment and don't completely overdo it when you start out.

I would like to say that having read this, I now want to get myself a pair of running shoes and get out there to get fit, but while I have tremendous respect for Ms Heminsley and the other people in my life whom I know enjoy running, I am also pretty certain I'm not likely to start training for long distance races anytime soon. Swimming is still my preferred form of exercise. Completing a 5K race at some point might be fun though?

Judging a book by its cover: I am ashamed to admit that it took me not just a first and a second glance, but a slightly confused third, before I realised what the cover is actually depicting. I love the mint and teal colour (two of my favourite colours) and once I figured out that the white strips are in fact supposed to be laces, that the whole thing is supposed to look like the top of a laced up running shoe, I was rather impressed with the design. Before I figured that part out, I thought the white bits were ribbons or banners or something, which made a lot less sense.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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