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So I must admit, I was skeptical at first to join a book club related to running. My first thought was, how in the world could I read a book about running? (And stay awake!) What could I learn from someone writing about their running journey?
I guess it is true, never judge a book by its cover. There were a lot of things I took away from Jennifer Graham’s book “Honey Do You Need A Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner”, but I would not be human if I also did not find things that I disagreed with while reading.
What I liked:
First of all, I found the author relatable (from how she struggles with her self-esteem and size to everyday problems like fabric riding up). She writes like she is speaking casually and with a friend, just sharing her story over coffee on a Saturday morning. Honest and real. I like that no matter how “dark” her life seemed at times she used humour or sarcasm to “get through” those moments.
I loved how she briefly notes what it is like to encounter another runner. The camaraderie and “secret” runners head nod (and slight wave). For me, this is one of the many reasons why I love to run. I love the greetings and the fact that runners make a point to acknowledge each other. It is like you are all in the same club. Jennifer totally summarizes the moment perfectly “we nod at each other without breaking a stride. Our shared noble effort […]”
What’s funny is that I have always wondered what I looked like while running. You know, do I look as strong as I feel? Do I glide as smoothly as I dream that I do? Jennifer made me think a lot about how I run, and I could easily relate to many of the thoughts that run through her mind. I am totally self-conscious when I run. I always have this feeling that people are staring, watching and critiquing. I wonder do I look good in my running shorts? Am I going to look silly if I stop for a breather. But the reality is that no one cares (and neither should you). Trust me, me running – it “ain’t” pretty! haha! I have seen those horrible finish line pictures. They leave me wondering, what the heck am I doing!
I must say that it is incredible (and crazy!) for her to have continued to run even following her c-section and emergency surgery. I am not saying she should never run, but I kept thinking “Lady, you need to give your body a break!” I mean come on … Running with a catheter – ouch!
After having my little one, I wondered if I would be able to continue to run. I met women while on maternity leave that were told that they could never run again as a result of child-birth, and here I read about Jennifer’s life and how even after 4 c-sections, surgery and many other issues continues to run. And not just short distances!
I have so many questions about her physical health, advice for young new moms that admire women who continue to push their bodies. I still run, and am now pushing myself to complete my first 1/2 marathon this year. I can not help but wonder will I be able to run or push myself as hard a Jennifer after another child. She not only demonstrates that your body is capable, but that it is important to carve out this time for yourself, time to do something you love.
What I didn’t enjoy:
When I first started reading the book, I felt a bit sorry for her. Like she could not seem to get a break. But as I continued to read I found myself at times saying “Let it go!” “Get it over with.”
For example, I just felt that she makes herself seem as if she is bigger and slower than she really is. She keeps writing about how fat she is, but then she says she weighs just over 150 pounds. And I thought, geez I only weigh a about 10-15 lbs less than her. Am I fat? I know I am not (I am likely taller than Jennifer as well), but I started to second guess what if I am?
She seems to struggle with body image, and not that I do not think it is an ongoing battle for many of us, I would like to think that I will teach my little one the importance of “inner beauty”. I know cliché, but as I get older I realize that there is so much pressure from all angles of our lives that I want my daughter to feel comfortable in her own skin. I cannot help but wonder, how do her comments make her children feel? Are they uncomfortable in their own skin or have they labelled themselves too?
That’s it for now!
I want to thank Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home for welcoming me into her virtual book club. I look forward to reading the next book she selected about the Boston Marathon. Looks great!