Review: Running Like a Girl, By Alexandra Heminsley

A tale of bras, sweat and tears

If you are reading this after your final training run ahead of completing next Sunday's London Marathon in an easy three-hour stroll, then this book may not be for you. If, on the other hand, you expect to watch the Marathon from your sofa while carb-loading unnecessarily and thinking, "If only I could run", then you're in luck. This is a book for those of us who would love to Be A Runner, but are just waiting for the magic words that tell us how to become one. The bad news is: there are no magic words. The good news: it's as simple as putting one foot in front of another.

Alexandra Heminsley is an engaging guide through the pitfalls, pratfalls and sometimes surprising triumphs of learning how to make running a state of mind. It's a personal journey. Very personal: bowels and bras play quite a crucial role. Importantly, it is not about running as a means to medals, popularity or skinny thighs, but about running for strength in body and mind.

Heminsley is perhaps not a natural runner. Like many of us, she learned at school that sports were best avoided, and running came much later, from a desire to take ownership of her body. The story of how she went from first run (disastrous) to first marathon (painful) and beyond is a funny one, taking in incredulous friends, medical setbacks, snooty trainer salesmen, and how to solve the problem of knickers – you'll be incensed. Under such inspirational chapter headings as "The Finish Line", "A Runner For Life?" and "Wicking Fabric and How to Style It Out", she tells her own story race by painful race, including a half marathon that was run while sobbing. One chapter explains how women, until relatively recently, were not allowed to run some races for fear that their wombs would fall out – which will galvanise stubborn exercise refuseniks into putting on the trainers.

Part Two explains how to get there yourself: sensible advice about running myths (it doesn't do your knees in), running styles (women do run a bit differently from men) and kit (yes, you do deserve trainers that you are not "repulsed" by). And does it work? Well, after reading it, this reader went on her first run for five years. And, crucially, her second. She won't be running any marathons, however, but she'll feel a lot better about carb-loading while watching them.

Hutchinson £12.99

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk