Thank you Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss for providing me an ARC of this book!
Alex had forgotten she could run. Had forgotten how natural it really was to her. Now, in her thirties, she longs to be a runner, but doesn't believe she can. Once she decides she’s going to try, she eats three pieces of toast with honey, spends 90 minutes building an iTunes playlist, and heads out the door to what ends up being a painful, devastating run. Disappointed, she heads off on a journey to find the secret to running – surely if she finds it, this will all be made easy.
The only secret she ever finds, comes back to her time and time again. From idols to her father who has run many marathons – you just have to go run. Yep, that’s the secret.
I have to admit I've fallen prey to the elusive “secret” as well. Really that is exactly why I look for and read these books. I want to be a “real runner”. I've been trying on and off for years. What is helpful about this book isn't that there are any secrets to be given (I actually don’t think I found any new information in the content of Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run), but that Alex’s real life account of her running escapades isn't some “born to run” type story. Instead, she stumbles, she grumbles, she slacks, she falls, and she ignores the advice of those who know what they’re talking about. She does exactly what the rest of us are currently doing (or have done in the past). Because, again, certainly there’s a magic secret out there and if we can just find it…
Throughout her running experiences, Alex learns much about her life outside of running too. She faces tragedy, falls in love, finds a job she doesn't hate, and meets new people. All of these things she is able to tie back to running, and in the end all these things are bettered and also solely acceptable outside of running. Running isn't for one type of person or one size of person or even one speed of person, it is for everyone, but you have to go out and run (the ever recurring theme of this book).
One of the more defining moments for Alex is when she sits down to do research about women runners. The history of just how recently women were discriminated against in this sport is interesting and sheds an entirely new light on why women running is so momentous, and definitely something to celebrate despite distance, speed, or perceived ability. Learning of women in the not-so-distant past who infiltrated races and faced ridicule and mistreatment because they weren't allowed to officially run the race, was eye opening. It is still hard to believe some of the simpler things we've had to fight so hard to get and keep. It definitely provided new light on the subject.
Also enjoyable are the quotes that begin each chapter. From Dr. Seuss to Haruki Murakami to past presidents, there are many little nuggets to kick off the chapters that readers will want to save to their quotes list.
After telling her story, Alex goes on to debunk some myths, describe some common injuries, and even talk about things like what to pack for a marathon and what to bring with you to the race.
While I’m not even sure if I’m interested in getting to 26.2, I do know that running is still something I want to enjoy. I want to continue to do it and I want it to not suck quite so bad. This book helped me understand that I can do that – whatever distance I want to stick with – and I don’t have to have any secret to do it. All I have to do is go run!
I was provided an ARC copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.
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