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Perspiration drives inspiration: Sports can make you happy (and more successful)

March 9, 2011 – 5:34 AM



By Laura Pappano

Just in time to save us from seasonal affective disorder, writer and blogger Mina Samuels has published Run Like a Girl, a relentlessly optimistic book (doesn’t mean there aren’t trials) about the transformative power of sports.

Yes, sports can make you happy. (And more successful. too!)

In her part-memoir, part-girlfriend/life coach tale (replete with interviews and examples from top athletes), Samuels grapples with the challenges we face –motivation, burnout, injury, failure, and self-doubt — to show us how conquering athletic challenges can help us conquer our demons and find our best selves.

Like an encouraging voice at the toughest stretch of a race, Samuels offers the kind of support that we all crave. Her anecdotes are funny (the first time she ran in NYC, she ran around Central Park, only to later discover many more runners inside) and inspirational (the woman who trades her wheelchair for a bicycle, climbing aboard and heading downhill before she has even figured out how to pedal).

She challenges the dumb debates women have about sports (Is it okay to wear a skirt to run a road race? Do real athletes wear pink?) to push at what really matters.

I spoke with Samuels, 44, lawyer-turned-writer who lives in NYC, about lessons we can take from her book. So go ahead, get out the sport shoes and lace ‘em up!

FGN: How did you get the idea to write this book?

MS: I was talking to a writer friend and we were both brainstorming non-fiction book ideas. She said, ‘What do you feel passionate about?’ And I woke up the next morning to go for my run and I thought, ‘this! This is what feel passionate about.’

From the very beginning I didn’t want it to be how to run, how to do triathlons. I had 10 women over for dinner and I gave everyone a questionnaire. That evening sealed for me that I wanted a book that captured  a night when we were sharing our stories, feeling the connections, but more revved up about ourselves. There’s that feeling: I have friends around me and they are supporting me and I can do more.


FGN: Why do sports make us able to do more off the court or race course?

MS: Sports are indisputable. In so many areas of your life – promotions at work, publishing a book and how it does, if you get the corner office or not, it is easy to discount those things. With sports, you have a measurable goal. It is completely quantifiable. You did the marathon – or you did not do the marathon. The quantifiable thing of sports: That specific thing I thought I couldn’t do – I did it.


FGN: What are you hoping women will get from your book?

MS: I want women to take away the knowledge that what they think they are capable of is probably no more than half of what they area actually capable of – for most of us. No many how many strides we have made with feminism, with Title IX, with trying to achieve equal pay, there is still some road to travel for women. I want them to travel that road more equally and own how great they are. When you do sports, it is not a mental exercise, it is not fantasizing about potential success. You are showing yourself what you can do.


  1. One Response to “Perspiration drives inspiration: Sports can make you happy (and more successful)”

  2. This article really resonated with me. Research has proven how beneficial it can be for girls to play sports – lower teen pregnancy rates, lower obesity rates, better grades in school, etc. And now, this book relates sports with happiness, which I think is fascinating. The problem is, some girls are still not afforded the same opportunities as boys – or girls in more affluent areas. I’m currently involved in a film that is exploring this very issue. Check it out if you’re interested. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inthegamefilm/in-the-game-take-a-stand-for-girls

    I will definitely check out the book!

    By Kristina on Mar 9, 2011

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