Saturday, 8 March 2014

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Running is something that I liked as a child. I am one of that strange breed who actually enjoyed cross-country at school. But running (in fact all sport) stopped when I left school. I can't say that I've particularly missed it. On the other hand I am quite often tired these days and have got significantly heavier over the past few years. Lack of exercise has got a lot to do with that. My son joined our local running club a couple of years ago and that stirred in me some long-forgotten urge to run. But only enough to make a couple of half-hearted attempts and then give up. Then I heard about this book and ordered it from the library. I started it straightaway and finished it in about two days.

Alexandra Heminsley is a journalist who hadn't done any sport for years and didn't think of herself as an athletic person at all. But she decided that she wanted to run.

That was it, I was going to run round the block. I had high hopes: hopes of the arse of an athlete, the waist of a supermodel and the speed of a gazelle. Defeated by gyms, bored by sanctimonious yoga teachers and intimidated by glossy tennis clubs, I decided it was time to end a lifetime spent believing myself to exist on the outside of sport. I would return powerful and proud, the city still reeling at the sight of my grace and speed on the pavements of Kilburn.

Suffice to say it didn't turn out as she planned. But she didn't give up and by sheer tenacity and perseverance turned herself into a runner.

It's very funny, there's plenty of stuff like the paragraph quoted above. She doesn't mind laughing at herself (she fell down while trying to high-five spectators at her first marathon), and she is honest about her setbacks as well as her successes. It is also quite moving, she writes about how running helped her reconnect  with her father with whom she'd had a loving, but quite distant relationship. He had been a keen runner and it gave them a shared interest and something to talk about.

There's lots of practical advice as well; about kit, injuries, what to take to a race. All in all I think it's an ideal book for women who think they might like to run. I found it very inspiring and am running again. Very slowly, and not in daylight - but it's a start.


  1. I'm the opposite to you - I hated sport of all kind at school but I took up running a few years ago and love it. I really miss it now I'm too pregnant to do it safely.

    1. There's probably a pram designed to go running with! You and your baby can go running together.