Review: This Girl Ran, Helen Croydon

This girl ranI set myself a goal for 2018 to read 25 endurance sport books. These can be autobiographies, text books or popular psychology books. I plan to review them all (as Iā€™m often asked on twitter and by clients for good books to read about sport psychology). Five books in and finally writing my first review for This Girl Ran by Helen Croydon.

All triathletes have their stories of how naively they started out and how they struggled through their early races not having a clue about the etiquette, rules or culture they were throwing themselves into. In this book Croydon has all of these, but also provides it the juxtaposition of the fact she wasn’t coming from another sport or having done a bit of something in the past. She was coming from full on London Party Girl. She talks about the process of swapping delicate heals for clompy bike shoes, wet look trousers for wetsuits and cream blazers for hoodies. It is a growing up, discovering yourself journey but with added lake weed and a lot of mud.

I’m not usually a fan of these ‘girl done well’ books, or the ‘amateur starting out in a sport’ memoirs but having worked with Croydon recently I felt I should read her book. I’m really glad I did. Not only did it take me down a memory lane of my own start in triathlon but I thought it would be a really nice way of learning about running and triathlon if you were new to the sport. She has snuck in some really good advice on kit, training, mental approaches, physiology and race tactics without it feeling patronising or awkward.

From the sport psychology perspective I loved Croydon talking about the distraction techniques she uses to get her through the tough times on longer runs or bike rides. She uses fractions, doing the maths over and over in her head of how much she has done, or how much further she has to go. This has the effect of chunking up the race into much smaller parts, making it feel much more achievable.

Croydon also made me reflect upon my own approach to racing, and that of the athletes I work with. She talks about how she realised she didn’t have a natural talent for sport, or the physiology to be the best, but that she could be on control of the dedication and discipline she put into trying to achieve her goal. This was a really good reminder that we should stop comparing ourselves to others and focus on the processes in our sports we can control. It is a line which has been playing on my mind since finishing the book and has given me a swift kick up the bum to work harder. And something I’ll be reminding the athletes I work with. So for the giggles, the tips and the inspiration, This Girl Ran is worthwhile reading, especially if you have just taken your first steps into the world of triathlon.