Running in the Midpack – Q&A with the co-author

Published 8th February 2021 by mymo

mymo social media manager, running coach and now author, Anji Andrews published her first running book last week, co-written with Martin Yelling. ‘Running in the Midpack’ is published by Bloomsbury and is available in all good bookstores. We managed to distract her from her social media duties with mymo to ask her what it was like to write a book and tell us what it’s all about.

What’s your running background?

I’ve been running for around 12 years, became a run leader in 2012 and qualified as a running coach in 2015. I started because I loved the challenge of doing something new and liked that it didn’t come easily to me. My favourite event I have ever done is the London Marathon, but I have a soft spot for local races like the Blaydon Race and the Monthly Mile in South Shields. The event I have done the most is the Half Marathon, including eight times at the Great North Run! I run for Gateshead Harriers and I manage the Newcastle area for GoodGym. As a regular parkrunner, I am really well-connected in North East running.

Where did you get the idea for Running in the Midpack?

Many runners talk about the same things. They go through the same experiences, have the same hang ups and always ask their coaches questions around similar things - me included. I felt there was a gap in the market for regular ‘middle of the pack’ runners - not those at the elite end or just starting out. I am a massive reader and I couldn’t find anything out there that covered everything my runners would ask me. I wanted to talk about the themes that make running fun, meaningful and enriching even when you’re never going to take a prize home or run for your country.

Running in the Midpack is a co-write with Martin Yelling. How did that come about?

I’ve worked with Martin for three years on the Marathon Talk podcast where I manage social media. Martin has been my coach and mentor since the end of 2018 and we have worked on a few shared projects. Martin had the same sort of idea, as well as heaps of research and writing aimed at midpack runners. It made sense that we could enrich the story telling by bringing our two very different experiences of running and coaching. Martin has a history of being an elite athlete, his wife is an Olympian, and also he now very much identifies as a middle of the pack runner himself. I have very much been the average runner, with fewer years’ experience in coaching and we felt we could blend something together really well. People have said to me that they can feel the blend of our voices when they read the book.

What does the book cover?

We wanted ‘Midpack’ to address the key themes in running without it being too serious. We really wanted it to be a book that brings joy to running and celebrates the process over results. The book is split into the identity of midpack runners, psychology, whole body health, training, nutrition and racing with bitesize takeaways and key themes of joy, nourishment and cultivation of running achievement.

We had some amazing contributors helping us to create something different and thoughtful including sports psychologists, physiotherapists, physiologists, elite level coaches, writers and most importantly a handful of midpack runners. My favourite contributor is possibly American record holder Ryan Hall who gave us an incredible quote about process. He emailed me when I was in Tesco and I almost died on the spot. It’s been a joy throughout writing to be able to speak to the people we most admire in the sport.

What I am really proud of is that we have addressed a handful of ‘new’ and sometimes serious things runners come up against including female cycle health, RED-s (Relative Energy Deficiency in sport) and the pressures of social media. It’s great to see some of our readers already talking about these things.

Our publisher Bloomsbury provided us with fantastic editors and an illustrator who helped with our scribbles and half formed doodles to really bring the book to life.

What's next?

During the final edit stages of ‘Midpack’, I often thought my brain would never work again but I’d love to continue creating things like this book that help runners to be happier people. We had a slightly low scale launch for the book given that shops are still closed and we can’t be together to celebrate. We have paused much of the launch and celebration until we get to do it properly in a bookshop with a glass of champagne in hand! We hope to be at The National Running Show and the London Marathon Expo in the autumn.

Running in the Midpack is a global release, and we are just as excited to see how American runners receive the book in the Spring.

Photo credit: Helen Williams.

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