A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

TLWH Book Club: Daughters of Distance

on September 24, 2015

This month, the Taking the Long Way Home Running Book Club is highlighting a book focused on female runners and the issues unique to women as athletes, Daughters of Distance. Thanks to Wendy for hosting!TLWH Book Club

Be sure to check out Wendy’s interview with the author, Vanessa Runs, here. I found her discussion of her dog, and reducing her miles because her dog was older and couldn’t keep up with the miles, particularly touching. Family of all kinds can impact our running.  I also loved her last bit of advice, to ignore most of the running advice out there and just “run joyfully in your own space.”

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From the beginning, it was clear that this was going to be a much more serious exploration of female athleticism than I’d encountered before. The forward begins with a story of violation that I suspect many women can identify with, in the fear and the frustration and the lack of control of our spaces that we as females deal with in ways that our males friends and partners can rarely truly understand. Throughout this book, the author discusses many of the issues that we as women struggle with when it comes to our athletic endeavors, with a focus primarily but not exclusively on running. She covers a lot of ground in this book, from views on femininity and expressing emotion, to the fairness (or lack thereof) of gender specific races and awards. She also gets into relationships and parenting and mom guilt (oh the mom guilt!).

Each chapter is a mix of the author’s personal experiences, quotes from other athletes and discussion of other writings on the subject. I confess there were times where I found the chapters a little poorly organized and hard to pay attention to because there wasn’t a great narrative flow, but that may just be my busy working mom brain that needs something either to suck me in as a story or as a topic that really resonates with me. While a lot of these are topics I find academically interesting, this didn’t resonate with me as much personally because I don’t view running with the same intensity as I suspect the author and many of the people quoted do. However, there were sections that I certainly enjoyed. Michele’s story, in the science of tears, about finishing Ironman in honor of her dad had me teary as I read and experienced that finish along with her.

The chapter on competition also resonated with me, which caught me off guard as I don’t consider myself to be a competitive person. I certainly used to be competitive – maybe a little overly so. I am a lifelong overachiever but somewhere between college and graduate school, I became almost averse to competition. I didn’t want to put myself forward in any way. This is partially perfectionism, I know. Why do something if I can’t be the best at it or succeed, right? This definitely played a huge role in my avoidance of weight loss for so long – I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it if I tried. The author frames this as self-censorship, which really an incredibly good to way to look at this. Why are we holding ourselves back? Running has definitely helped me get over that fear a bit, to be willing to do something knowing I’m not the best at, but I need to continue working on those stretch muscles.

I also loved the introduction, when she discusses her reasons for pursuing this book and focusing on women’s athleticism. “There’s something about the scent of a woman’s athletic success that soaks through her entire universe. She will keep her kids active. She will invite friends out on the trails. She will invest time and effort into sharing her experiences within her community. An empowered woman will benefit every single relationship she touches. Instead of compartmentalizing her sport, she will allow it to infiltrate every aspect of her life. She will live better.” While I am nowhere the athlete most of the women discussed this book are, nor do I every really desire to be such, this definitely spoke to me and of my experience. I get great satisfaction from knowing that just by running, I have touched my family and my friends and people I don’t even know in real life. It is amazing the power we have.

All in all, while this is not a light or easy read, it was certainly an interesting one in many ways. If you’re interested in exploring thoughts on feminism and athleticism, this would be a good place to start. Thanks as always to Wendy for hosting book club! Be sure to check out her review, along with the link up of other reviews, here.

Next up is Confessions of an Unlikely Runner, so be sure to check it out if you’d like to join the book club link up next month! Nothing like curling up a good book and a warm cup of coffee to welcome fall, right?

Do you like to read about running or fitness? I think a lot of us read a lot of blogs or other things online, but I was curious about books. While I embrace technology in lots of ways, I still love a good book in my hands and have accumulated quite the collection of books on running in various forms (memoirs, technical guides, nutrition, etc). I’m always looking for new ones to add to my reading list so do share any recommendations!

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3 responses to “TLWH Book Club: Daughters of Distance

  1. Jessica, thank you so much for this thoughtful review! I loved your perspective on this book. And I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Dana Ayers says:

    Thank you for the plug for my book “Confessions of an Unlikely Runner”!

    As far as other (funny) books about running, I’d recommend The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances and Running Like a Girl.

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