Reading and Running Like A Girl

Long before I started running, reading was my one true love. So much so that I am surrounded by books in my day job. I’m a library assistant at a super cool neighborhood branch of a public library system which has won awards on both a system wide and branch level. While I rock a lot of cardigans and sensible shoes, I have never shushed someone. Sorry to smash your stereotypes.

While I am typically a fiction reader (teen fiction for the win!), sometimes I take the odd bite out of a nonfiction book that tickles my fancy.

Enter Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run When I started running, I do what I always do: a quick search of my library catalog to see what’s out there. Heminsley’s book jumped out at me for obvious reasons. Jokes and struggles? Laughing and crying about running? Yes please. I loved this book so much I bought it.

I am going to start off by saying that if I were to write a book on running, it would essentially be this book. Besides the fact that, unlike Heminsley, I have NOT run a marathon… I feel the same way about my three half marathons. (And no, I am never planning on running 42.2 cause, let’s be honest, that’s too long…)

As I mentioned  before, I started my running journey in the spring of 2014. After being a relatively lazy child, even lazier adult, then nearly killing myself with intense crossfit-esque Jillian Michaels DVDS, I was not too keen on cardio in general. I have used all of the excuses possible to avoid running: I can’t run, I have asthma, My legs are too short, I’m really out of shape, I would only run if a bear was chasing me. On and on and on.  By this point, my partner had run three full marathons. I was just still just sitting on my butt.

So, I decided to give it a try. I downloaded the Couch to 5k app (Seriously! If you want to run, please do the same!)  The first run nearly killed me. The second one wasn’t much better. But after I rounded out the second week, it started to get easier. I signed up for a Color Me Rad. That was my motivation. It still sucked. I got sick and felt like I was back at square one again. However, during my run I walked for less than one minute and finished in about 29 minutes. Bad ass. The runners high kicked in. That night I signed up for a 10k.

Getting to 10k was easier than getting to 5k. I did it, dominated it. Walked for about 30 seconds of my first full full 10k, and only because both of my feet went numb. I finished in an astonishing 1:01:58. Then I signed up for my next two 5k runs: a Night Race and a Turkey Trot complete with an adorable turkey themed metal.

I feel like Heminsley and I are kindred spirits, but she dove right in and signed up for a full marathon. Good on her. Running Like a Girl follows Alex through the trials and downfalls of training for racing, from physical to emotional. Interlaced with humour and brimming with reality, this is my kind of memoir.

Seriously, this is what hooked me.

Running is awful. It feels unnatural, unnecessary, painful. It can hijack you with breathlessness, cripple you with panic, and overwhelm you with self-conciousness. It isn’t a warm fire or a deep sofa or a cup of tea and a smile. It is cold and hard and unforgiving.

This is exactly how I felt when I started running. But then it got better. Not necessarily easier, because I am constantly pushing myself, but better. More rewarding. Fun. It clears my constantly worrying mind. It tames my competitive nature. It makes me stronger. I never in a million years thought I would be a runner.

But here I am. Laughing and smiling and complaining and hurting the whole way.

Happy running and happy reading 🙂

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