Books and Media That Inspire Me to Run but Are Not *About* Running
I’m always looking for inspiration when I’m trying to stay motivated so here I’m compiling a list of books/movies/shows that feature a strong (usually) female protagonist who is a runner or an athlete but the plot is not necessarily about running or sports. Some will not be about sport or running at all and others will be much more so. I’ll be filling this out more and more as I discover more and adding little blurbs and links.
Heroine -Mindy McGinnis
When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.
The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.
With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.
But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.
Why it’s on my list:
First, in relation to running, Mickey is an incredibly dedicated athlete. This novel takes place in a world in which a whole town gives a shit about girls softball.So much so, that even people without girls on the team regularly attend games— even away games— and stop the star catcher on the street to talk about the sport. While this idea strains credulity, I love it. I wish we lived in that world, where people care as much about girls sports as they do about boys sports.
The way Mickey and her friend— star pitcher Carolína— are depicted loving the sport, competing during conditioning and prioritizing strength and endurance is inspiring. Reading the parts where they are pushing themselves in the gym really made be want to get out there in the sun and get some dirt under my fingernails.
Mickey’s journey with addiction is hauntingly familiar as someone who grew up in a town that is now griped by the opioid crisis. I saw friends die young and destroy themselves on drugs, burnt out adults clinging to their youth in denial of their role in perpetuating their own sickness in us— a bunch of kids— and I saw a very lucky few recover. I love that this book depicts addiction in a young athlete known as a good kid as well as portraying her fellow addicted friends as complete, sympathetic, smart people. Some people get hooked on pain meds they come by honestly, but even the kids who just want to get high are people who deserve compassion.
The Female of the Species -Mindy McGinnis
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.
Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence.
While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.
As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
Why it’s on my list:
Alex begins by explaining how she kills someone. That’s not a spoiler, it’s basically the first sentence. So how is this about running? She runs by her prey’s house every day as an excuse to get close to him but gradually finds she enjoys the way it makes her feel. She keeps the running habit even after she accomplishes her task. There is even a really cute scene where she brings her new boyfriend on a running date.
This novel was riveting. I don’t approve of murder but also I cant feel too bad about it in this case… This novel flirts with the ‘i’M nOt LiKe ThEeE oThEr GiRlS’ trope that I hate but turns it on it’s head with our tom boy protagonist speaking out in defense of the hot girl with the hot bod and shutting down victim blaming. While there is some problematic content around the behavior of the hot girl and the protagonist, the way the author pushes back on certain tropes even while reinforcing them asks you to interrogate your own bias when it comes to girls and rape culture.
I’m ready to read everything I can by this author to find more female protagonists and complicated side characters.
Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Why it’s on my list:
The main character runs yo. She runs to clear her head and cope with trauma and it feels right. (more to come)
Movies and TV Series
Stick It (2006)
Why it’s on my list:
This was one of those movies that came out in the early to mid 2000’s that defines the decade for me. I wasn’t a skater or a gymnast (I wasn’t even a runner back then, I liked theater and punk music and art) but this movie really inspired me to admire athleticism in women (as well as informing my budding queer sexuality. This movie is bi culture 4eva).
There is some problematic ‘i’M nOt LiKe ThEeE oThEr GiRlS’ content but ultimately this movie pushes back on that trope with our protagonist realizing the value of the friendships she has developed with the other young women on her team despite rolling in thinking she’s better than them because she’s nOt LiKe ThEeE oThEr GiRlS. She is like them, strong and talented.