It was while wearing wine-tinted spectacles one evening last April, that a close friend of mine announced she had signed up to run a half marathon. I’ll admit I was taken aback; as teenagers we had attempted “jogging” around the village together, but the get-fit fad never lasted more than a few days. Now here she was telling me she’d paid the entry fee and it was actually happening. “It’d be good to have a running buddy,” she said. “You used to run, you could do it with me!”

To say I used to run is probably an overstatement. In my first year at university I had definitely put on the full Freshers’ Fifteen (lbs) and the rest, and feeling horrendous I spent a fortune on exercise DVDs to shed the weight. Having gone through school with a fear of PE classes (except dance which I loved), it felt good to finally enjoy the benefits of exercise. It was at this point that I decided to try my feet at running.


The essentials from Wehearit

My fellow students bragged about how lucky we were to have the sea to run by each day and I felt I was missing out. I began to enjoy it and it became an un-missable part of my routine. But once I’d graduated and moved back home, pounding the pavements did not fill me with the same pleasure – my commitment faded and my trainers resumed their position at the back of my wardrobe.

I had been looking for an excuse to get back into running, and now here it was, so I signed up and began look at training programmes.

Every day I woke thinking “today is the day that I’ll start”, but I couldn’t muster the motivation to get out the door. I needed to find something that would give me the shove I needed. That is when I discovered Alexandra Hemisley’s Running Like A Girl. It is a memoir of the author’s relationship with running and as soon as I began reading, I immediately identified with why she thought she couldn’t be a runner.


Heminsley writes with touching honesty, charting the highs and lows of training for several marathons. It is difficult not to be tickled by her humour and it got me out the door:

That was it, I was going to run around the block. I had high hopes: hopes of the arse of an athlete, the waist of a supermodel and the speed of a gazelle.

Within seconds – not even minutes – my face had turned puce with intense heat and my chest was heaving. The wobble of my the thighs, the quake of my arse, the ridiculous jiggle of my boobs, they seemed to mock me as the Saturday dads stared at me in horror from the playground.”

Sadly, an infection that left me with a foot the size of Hagrid’s stopped me in my tracks. It’s been my New Year’s Resolution to get going again, but we’re two months in and… So I’ve pulled out the book again.

If you need some “better late than never” fitness motivation, give this book a go.

By Olivia Parish

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