What a better way to start the new year than to hear from the stories of forty world class female distance runners? In this book, Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery, both world class runners themselves, collect the stories, lessons learned, challenges, successes, career evolutions from top athletes across the world, from some of the pioneers in the sport of distance running to the greatest champions of today.
It is incredible to witness the progress that women have made in the field of distance running over the past decades. But the path to success can still be filled with challenges, as recently voiced by Mary Cain in the New York Times. This prompted Molly Huddle and Sara Slattery to showcase the inspiring stories of world class female runners to both highlight some common challenges, but also provide inspiration to the current and upcoming generation of female athletes. It also provides broader awareness of some of the toxic behaviors that exist in the sport around body image or women’s health through recurring themes in the stories.
The book starts with four key areas for young female runners to focus on and provide advice and pitfalls to avoid. These areas come back in the stories, providing both concrete examples on how the pitfalls may appear in practice but also how these athletes have navigated them and have emerged stronger.
I listen to the audio version of the book and I would actually recommend the paper version as the reading feels a bit dry. It may be because the authors (who also read most of the stories) do not want to impose their tone on the stories.
I would have also appreciated more representativity of female distance runners from around the world. A majority of the stories are from American athletes, and the topic of diversity (besides gender) is rarely brought up, showing us that there is still a work to be done in that space.