Review: Running Like a Girl

By | July 1, 2017

Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like a Girl

this may be the quintessential “don’t judge a book by its cover”, or, by its title. When I first stumbled on it, I disregarded it as probably patronizing. The “Bridget Jones-like writer” endorsement from The Washington Post didn’t really help matters. I was pleasantly surprised to be completely wrong.

“You don’t run,” he corrected me. “But you’re more than able.”

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this was she’s rather like me. A late convert to running after assuming she couldn’t – and she shared the details of the painful slow start. I’m glad I logged mine so I can see how far I’ve come even if I don’t see it with my numbers.

I’ve been enjoying a number of memoirs of runners in the last six months. They’re a nice complement to the more training focused ones like Hal Higdon’s and even John Bingham’s. What I especially liked about this is she put a lot of the basics that every running book seems to cover (what’s an IT Band, how to choose shoes, the running pioneers, etc.) into a pseudo appendix so they didn’t drag down the book’s pace.  I appreciated her struggles with buying sneakers as that’s somewhere I’ve struggled myself – and am still running in the first pair of shoes. Eventually. I’m pretty sure I’ll never worry about eyeliner, false eyelashes though and I’ve embraced my pink.

I’m impressed how she chose to immediately tackle the marathon and how she was able to fight off inertia following the race to do it again, and subsequently do two more. While I am almost positive I’ll never run a marathon – just no interest -it’s nice to see that just running that distance doesn’t make you any more invincible. And I love that she drew support from her fellow runners, while an introvert at heart I love the motivation of a run group or race to get me off the couch early vs. having it drag out like too many Saturdays do. If only I could do unlimited races.

I wish she’d touched more on the differences between running in Brighton, London and other UK areas (the hills of Edinburgh and San Francisco are self explanatory). I love being by the water, but maybe not in winter. Wonder how much more preferable she found Brighton weather wise unless it doesn’t differ that much to London’s climate.

sweaty mess

Speaking of slugurdays, in between starting and finishing this (ran out of time, or I’d have finished it in one sitting) I managed to set a 5K PR. Maybe she was rubbing off on me. This shirt is also good luck. Believe I set a prior PR in it too

It was my first 5K since I completed the challenge, mostly due to inertia and a bit of laziness induced bullshit. The weather was iffy (and caused a rain out for run group) and I realized it was better to head to the gym. I did and was slightly disappointed to see the sun come out – I wasn’t prepared for an outdoor run and really would have preferred to run to the gym and cut the time needed on treadmill. Oh well.

I decided rather than doing a semi-speed workout to just focus on doing 5K at 4.8. I put the TV on full screen so I wouldn’t fixate on distance/time remaining, which is my main issue with treadmill and went.  At 2.7 I upped it to 5.5 but I was hot and tired so that only lasted until 2.95 when I went back down to 4.8. My watch had a moment leading to Strava/TomTom recording it as two runs. Luckily with RunKeeper I was able to combine them and I realized it was a PR by 29 seconds! There was some amusement trying to calculate my prior best time ahead of realizing that looking in the Runkeeper details would tell me that. It was this one, which I just missed besting on the final 5K of the challenge.

pace math

Like that last run, I didn’t set out for a PR. Also like the last one, I didn’t realize it until I was done. I guess it’s further proof that I am getting faster even if I don’t realize it. That’s part of where the treadmill comes in handy, it forces a constant pace whereas my Central Park ones aren’t consistent. Given good weather, I’d rather be outdoors, but treadmill is a good tool.

2017 Reading:

Way off pace. But I’m reading and enjoying what I’m reading, so I’m not worried about falling short.


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