Monday, October 7, 2013

Running Like A Girl: Notes on Learning How to Run

Last Thursday I received a package from Simon & Shuster book publishers. I excitedly opened it to see what it was. Inside, I found a complimentary copy of Running Like a Girl : notes on learning how to run by Alexandra Heminsley.

After reading the press release and several lines of praise for the author, I immediately knew this was going to be a fun book to read.
British author, Alexandra Heminsley,  writes so candidly about her running experiences that I almost though this was a book of fiction, but it's not. It is her own personal account.  I have read many books by British author Sophie Kinsella ( The Shopoholic series, Can you Keep a Secret, Remember Me, etc) and this book was written in the same humorous style. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Sophie Kinsella, think Bridget Jones takes on running!

Ms. Heminsley ( or Alex) as she refers to herself in the book, didn't start taking a interest in running until she was in her 30's. She had always admired how energized and refreshed her flat mate (roommate) was after she had returned from a run and was hoping to experience the same feelings once she began her own running journey.  It didn't happen!

Alex set her sights on the London Marathon. As a reader ( and runner myself) I was curious to find out why she didn't start out with a few smaller races and work her way up to a marathon, but  according to the book, the London Marathon was her first attempt at a race.

She discusses her thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences that I assume every woman runner has wanted to know or discuss at some point in their running career. 

She tells about her first experience in a high end running store where she wanted to get a proper pair of running shoes. The sales associate will not help her because she will need to be measured and you have to make an appointment for that. There were no appointments available the day she was there.

She discusses the one thing more important than a proper pair of running shoes is a proper running bra. Did you know you can do more bodily harm running in the wrong bra than in the wrong pair of shoes? Heminsley talks about the unknown damage that woman can sustain while running in an ill fitted bra.

O yes, what happens if you have to go to the bathroom on a long run and you are far from home. She shares her experience with that as well.

Almost any struggle one could have while training for a race, Heminsley experienced, even falling down and having to go to the medical tent during the race.

After her marathon there was a period of time that Heminsley had stopped running and had fallen into a rut. She knew she had completed the marathon so she felt she had nothing else to prove to herself.

Excerpt from the book:
"Why should I be trying sooo hard to get twenty minutes faster? What's the purpose? What would I ever do with that extra twenty minutes?"

(I found that part to be extremely funny because it is the raw truth, but as runners we are always trying to improve our times)

With that being said, she  does go on to talk about how she got back out there and started running again, even completing the San Francisco Woman's Marathon earning herself the Tiffany's necklace.

The second part of Running Like a Girl  is Alexandra Heminsley's tips, tricks, and advice.  She lays it all out there for you on what to expect from your first marathon, what you should eat before, during, and after. She'll give you advice on protecting yourself from injury and other practical running advice. Did you know that rubbing Vasaline on your feet before you put your socks on  can prevent blisters from forming during your run?  She'll tell you what essentials to pack for race day, what to run with, and what to make sure you have waiting for you in your checked bag for afterwards.

Heminsley addresses the truth behind the top 10 running myths ( as far as woman are concerned). Some of these I've heard of and some I have not. Here are just a few.

1. Running will destroy your knees.
2. The high impact of running will give you a saggy face and a saggy behind.
3. Running will make your boobs sag
4. Running makes you pee blood.
5. Running makes your pee smell of ammonia.

She also discusses the most common injuries among runners, how to identify them, and how to best cope with them.

1. IT Band Syndrome
2. Planter Fasciitis
3. Achilles Tendonopathy
4. Piriformis Syndrom
5. sprained ankle

I have known runners who have had these injuries and after reading Heminsley's book I am now surprised how some of them can be so simply rectified or at least managed.

I really enjoyed this book because it was full of useful information yet written in very candid narrative. I loved how honest the author was about her experiences. After reading her words you will truly believe that with the proper training, even you can complete a marathon ( even if you've only ever run a 5k).  This book is certainly not just for the beginning runner, seasoned runners will enjoy her stories and learn some new tips to try as well.

Look for Heminsley's book Running Like a Girl: notes on learning to run on store shelves on October 8, 2013.  This is a very easy read. I read the entire book in one weekend.

Thank you Scribner/Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read/review this great book.
*I was given a free copy of Running Like a Girl: notes on learning how to run.  All opinions are my own.

What is one misconception you've had (or heard) about running?

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