I would describe myself as a runner who doesn’t run. Like, ever.
For about five minutes I was really going to do it and for about two of them I actually did. But my shins hurt, my arse bounced behind me like an over enthusiastic beach ball and I wasn’t the natural I thought I was going to be.
So I talked about it a lot and then walked instead.
In fairness, walking has done me wonders and I still wake up at 6.30 every morning for three times around the park come (mostly) rain or shine. I also bought a hula hoop and I do that up to twice a day (arse no longer wobbles quite so much).
But I miss the running I never did and in my heart I think there’s something still there. So the other week I bought Running Like A Girl and I read it with enthusiasm.
Alexandra, or ‘Hemmo’ as her running vest would have her known, is quite something. She was a lot like me in that she had the view that she’d be a track star by default, that she’d be a runner and that would be that.
(Where on Earth I would produce a theory like this from, I have no idea).
Her first run didn’t go quite to plan, and neither did the several that followed. She gave up, she reconnected with her chosen sport – and she kept on going.
The book itself, to the untrained eye, might just contain the story of a girl who learnt to run but I find Hemmo inspiring and really like the dynamic she shares with her father and brother. Even her lovely mum cheering her on to finish the London Marathon made me weep a little.
Anybody overcoming what they perceive to be their own shortcomings is okay by me and Hemmo is really likeable. She talks about food, socialising and life like a friend would and I think this is why her notes on running are so useful. She’s a normal girl who can run.
Sure, the detail she goes into when she describes each marathon can be a little repetitive if you’re not that bothered but I read it with a big ‘F**K yeah’ because I wanted her to get through; to run through the pain and the tears and the self doubt.
Everything Hemmo says about running is true. Nearly every able bodied person is capable of it, they just have to want to do it. And she’s honest, which I really dig. She doesn’t shy away from the fact that she stops and starts, that motivation sometimes lapses.
I found myself really relating to the way she talks about not knowing what she is running for (during one of her down times, after a big achievement). I can put this in the context of my relationship with eating well and moving my body; and perhaps this is why it works so well for me.
That said, I celebrated the completion of this book by not going running. I haven’t been at all yet and I finished the notes a week ago.
I will though. Watch me.
NB: When I talked about this with my brother, he knew who Hemmo was. Apparently, she hosted a few early morning runs and gave some talks at one of the festivals they’ve been to. Which is well cool.
And she lives in Brighton (smug face).
- Running Like a Girl
- Publisher: Windmill Books (16 Jan 2014)
- ISBN-10: 0099558955
- ISBN-13: 978-0099558958
- Bought paperback (secondhand)