Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl
by Alexandra Heminsley

In her twenties, Alexandra Heminsley spent more time at the bar than she did in pursuit of athletic excellence. When she decided to take up running in her thirties, she had grand hopes for a blissful runner’s high and immediate physical transformation. After eating three slices of toast with honey and spending ninety minutes on iTunes creating the perfect playlist, she hit the streets—and failed miserably. The stories of her first runs turn the common notion that we are all “born to run” on its head—and expose the truth about starting to run: it can be brutal.

Running Like a Girl tells the story of how Alexandra gets beyond the brutal part, makes running a part of her life, and reaps the rewards: not just the obvious things, like weight loss, health, and glowing skin, but self-confidence and immeasurable daily pleasure, along with a new closeness to her father—a marathon runner—and her brother, with whom she ultimately runs her first marathon.

But before that, she has to figure out the logistics of running: the intimidating questions from a young and arrogant sales assistant when she goes to buy her first running shoes, where to get decent bras for the larger bust, how not to freeze or get sunstroke, and what (and when) to eat before a run. She’s figured out what’s important (pockets) and what isn’t (appearance), and more.

For any woman who has ever run, wanted to run, tried to run, or failed to run (even if just around the block), Heminsley’s funny, warm, and motivational personal journey from nonathlete extraordinaire to someone who has completed five marathons is inspiring, entertaining, practical, and fun.

Are you wanting a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle? Are you wanting confirmation that you aren’t alone in those awkward first steps? Are you constantly waiting for next Monday to start on your goals? READ THIS BOOK!

I am trying to run more and dream of eventually completing a marathon. I struggle with maintaining motivation, especially when life gets super stressful or busy. As such, I like to read running books to remind me that I am not alone and that there are others out there who have completed the seemingly impossible. (Feel free to peruse my reviews of How to Lose a Marathon, My Year of Running Dangerously, and Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow)

I discovered Alexandra Heminsley via an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Adventure Sports Podcast. She talked about her running and open water swimming journey during the interview. Her frank honesty had me interested in Running Like a Girl; so I picked up the audiobook. (Sadly Audible doesn’t have the UK version where Heminsley reads her own work but it was still well narrated.)

The format is incredibly easy to follow. The first part of Running Like a Girl details Heminsley’s often hilarious running journey. The second shorter part provides a summary of tips on how to pick shoes, run for charity, and just general running tips. Heminsley’s work is honest. She is bluntly open about her experiences, both the good and the bad. She shares her fears of running in front of people, her horribly demeaning first experience buying running shoes, her elation at successfully wrangling her boobs during runs, and the emotional rollercoaster she experienced during every race.

Heminsley doesn’t sugar coat anything. She openly mocks herself for her stubborn refusal to ask for advice. But she also shares the joy of finding strength and confidence with each completed run. My favorite parts are when she talks about meeting new people while running, and talking to runners who have to overcome great physically difficulties just to run. Her experiences provide a glimpse at a positive perspective most modern adults are too self-centered to realize. 

The few complaints I’ve seen can be summed up under the following topics: Heminsley self-focused narrative, her lack of scientific information on running, and the section on running makeup. Yep. There is a section on running makeup. So I am going to address these one at a time.

1.       The summary of the novel tells readers this is the author’s personal running story. Heminsley is blatantly open about her faults and trying to improve them. She berates herself for her own stubbornness, lack of confidence, and fluctuating emotions. This is her story about learning to run and how to be a better version of herself. Get off your preachy soapbox ya negative Nancys.

2.       There are plenty of books out there on the science of running. Running Like a Girl never pretends to be one. Go pick up Born to Run if that’s what you are looking for.

3.       I don’t really wear makeup but I put on mascara every day. I wear mascara to group workouts. And there is nothing wrong with people using makeup to boost their confidence during a race. She shared what had worked for her just in case someone out there could use the information.

If y’all could only see the eyerolls over here! Also, it should be obvious Running Like a Girl is specifically written for a female audience; however, this book is for anyone who has trepidations towards getting out the door on that first run. Sure, guys probably won’t get much from the section on sports bras, but this definitely isn’t a ‘dude bashing’ story. Heminsley talks about all her supporters, both male and female. The best takeaway for anyone reading this book….you can run; all you need to do is get yourself out the door.

This book is the perfect boost for anyone wanting to run, or tackle any exercise. Heminsley quickly points out that it doesn’t just have to be about losing weight but instead promotes exercise as a way to meet new people, potentially help others, and live your best life. Make today your last ‘I’ll wait until next Monday.” Pick up this story and get a needed kick in the butt to do more with your life. Have a great week and happy reading!

Lindsay

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The Martian

The Martian

by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I admit that I can be a ‘book snob’ because I tend to steer clear of books that become instant hits. You know which books I mean. The novels that, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about. Usually these books just don’t live up to the hype and this is why I avoided reading The Martian for so long.

It was quite stupid because I knew it was my type of book the instant I read the back cover. And yet, I still hesitated! Then I saw the movie trailer and realized that I was just being stubborn. Space exploration and astronomy are favorite subjects of both my dad and my husband (and me!) I’ve watched every documentary and I needed to read The Martian. I purchased my copy the next day and I couldn’t put it down.

The Martian tells the survival story of Mark Watney, a Mars astronaut that is accidentally left behind when his mission is aborted. It is Andy Weir’s debut novel and my favorite novel of the year! I loved the journalistic writing style and the  plot flowed smoothly, keeping me consistently engaged. was great. I enjoy how Weir mixes Watney’s storyline with that of the scientists on Earth, his crew, and the backstory of the equipment. I even enjoyed the science and had no problem understanding the application.

Many might consider the technical and straight-forward writing style too dull but I loved it. I’m a blunt, literal person so I t worked for me. The secondary characters are cookie cutter and underdeveloped but the only one that really annoyed me was Annie, the PR rep. I’m pretty sure Weir can’t stand media people from his descriptions of her. I also doubt Weir will be able to write any other novels in this style with the same level of success. I don’t see him as a one hit wonder but I do hope to continues to grow as a writer and expands his character development skills.

So many reviewers have complained that the book is trying too hard to be funny. I personally loved the corny humor of the novel. Watney’s goofy attempts to lighten the mood kept me reading and for those who wanted to see someone struggling to deal with the trauma of being left on Mars? You got it! Humor is one way many people deal with a bad situation (we all have been to a funeral where one person won’t stop laughing). Read a YA romance novel or modern women’s lit story if you need 300-400 pages of angst and tension. The humor is obviously Watney’s way of coping with the boredom and stress of being stuck alone for over a year. Go back and read the parts where our plucky astronaut is actually dealing with a life or death situation. You’ll realize that he’s not making jokes in the heat of the moment. They come afterwards. Plus, the journal is what Watney wants other people to know. He mentions that MANY times, so it may be a window in to his personality and experience but it’s edited. Sheesh!

I definitely recommend The Martian but I also understand that it might not be the book for everyone. Let me know if you have any questions or please share all the things you love about this story! I can’t wait until October 2nd because I NEED to see this movie!

Lindsay

Writing Updates – February

I decided to do a monthly writing update for 2015.  You probably aren’t too interested in my writing goals, but I have found these posts keep me motivated and positive.  Read on if you’d like and feel free to check out last month’s post and get the details on my two works-in-progress!

1.  Title: The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School Or  Getting Through Three Years of Self-Inflicted Higher Education Hell

Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor

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My Status: I finished a very rough first draft of the pocket guide at the beginning of February.  My plan is to edit and have it out to beta readers by mid-March.  It’s pretty short so I should be able to get it done!

2. Title: Winter

(still in need of an actual title)

Genre: Mystery, Humor

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My Status: I have written about 2/3rds of the first draft and am soooooo ready to finish.  I absolutely love the story but I am ready to rewrite and edit.  I really enjoy editing!  I plan on finishing the first draft within the next few weeks and hopefully start editing.

Let me know about your writing goals!

Lindsay

Writing Updates!

 

My plan for 2015 is to write as much as I can.  I am focusing on just getting first drafts finished and these monthly updates will hold me accountable in my writing.  So here is what was accomplished in January:

1.  Title: The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School Or  Getting Through Three Years of Self-Inflicted Higher Education Hell

Genre: Non-fiction, Humor

Synopsis:  So you want to go to grad school?  No big deal right?  I mean, you made it through your undergrad and you are now older and much more mature.  Grad school should be a breeze!  WRONG!  Learn from my naivety and make the most of your new living hell!  The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School is here to provide advice and answer questions you never dreamed of asking!

I am here to ensure both grad students and their support teams that you are not alone and that this too shall pass.  Take a quick study break, drown yourself in coffee, and flip through The Pocket Guide to Surviving Grad School for a much needed laugh!

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My Thoughts:  My time in grad school was tough.  I worked full time, went to school full time, and did a part time internship.  It was hard, exhausting, and often spirit destroying.  I cried, a lot.  I could fall asleep standing up.  My fellow students were really the only ones that understood what I was going through.  It was hard on me and my family, but I finally finished.

I expected life to go back to normal after school, but I found that I was still fighting depression and a lack of self confidence.  I decided that I just needed some time to readjust, so I was content to spend my days at a dead-end job and watching hours of TV.  This was even harder for my family to deal with because they felt I was wasting all my hard work.  I was prepared to just ride it out, but then my best friend started going through the same thing as her graduation approached.

I decided to write it all down to help explain what we were going through.  I included my unique brand of humor to help us laugh.  I use my personal stories and advice to help grad students know what their getting in to and to let them know that they are not alone.  There is a separate section for the family/friends/spouses of grad students on how they can survive the experience.

2. Title: Winter

(this is just the work-in-progress title and will be changed asap)

Genre: Mystery, Humor

Synopsis:  Lucy Jones is a Creative Writing Graduate student at the prestigious Colorado Institute of Art.  She is at her dream school working towards her dream job and her life would be amazing if it wasn’t for Dr. William Morgan.  Dr. Morgan is determined to crush Lucy’s spirit, treating her more like his personal slave instead of just his Teacher’s Assistant.  She spends her days surviving the stress and workload with no time for creative thought. Lucy can’t help but feel that this degree is a waste of her time and her dreams of being a writer slowly fade.

Then she finds Dr. Morgan’s dead body frozen in the snow.

Lucy tries to feel bad about the murder but she is finally free to pursue her dreams!  But Dr. Morgan manages to cause problems even in death and soon Lucy must abandon her studies to prove her family’s innocence.

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My Thoughts:  Yep, another grad school story.  I started writing this to put a much exaggerated and fun spin on the world of academia.  Plus, this is one of my favorite genres to read, so why not try writing it?  I am halfway through my first draft and enjoying every minute of it!  Side note: None of the characters are based on real people.

Let me know about your writing goals!  Lindsay