Kara Goucher's Running for Women
"What I hope to do in this book is the same thing my early running mentors did for me: help you gain a lifelong passion for running."The overall theme of this book centers on helping people find and nurture a love for running. Goucher shares her love story, with its requisite ups and downs, and gives easily digestible pointers about how the reader can discover and cultivate their own tale.
The alternating styles of memoir and how-to make this book a quick read, with no opportunity to get bored. It's also an easy book to put down and pick back up without any backtracking.
The book brims with takeaways, just a handful of which are:
People run for many, valid reasons, including but not limited to: getting fast, having fun, feeling better, losing weight and reducing stress.
In school and sports, running has often been used punitively, but as an individual, a runner can determine how fast and how long they can and should run. Don't let bad running memories stymie you.
Most of your runs should be easy, and it's okay if all of your runs are easy, depending on what you want to get out of running.
Goucher also goes into further detail, explaining terminology in understandable terms, laying out general training plans (from 5Ks to marathons), addressing nutrition, exploring running during pregnancy as well as the ins and outs of racing. An emphasis on life balance, punctuated with personal stories of discovering her identity outside of running, keeps the instruction from feeling inaccessible. With a conversational tone and appeal for beginners and veterans alike, this book makes a good read for any woman.
On a personal note - As a new, casual runner, I've found many running books to be completely overwhelming. They included a lot of jargon and mandates and generally made me feel incompetent. However, this book always left me encouraged and excited. Two specific ideas I walked away with were: the motivation to start a training journal and a plan to begin incorporating different sorts of runs (easy, fast and long) on a regular basis.
Readalikes (If you liked...)
Since I haven't seen other books similar to this one, let me instead direct you to some online reads with a similar feel:
If you liked Goucher's personal stories of challenge and triumph, you may like the Hungry Runner Girl blog. Her joy of running and life are contagious, even as she navigates the obstacles of both.
If you liked the invitational, non-threatening nature of Running for Women, you may like the Newbie Chronicles column in Runners World. You might see some of your own doubts and concerns reflected in the humorous, poignant prose.