Following my post about weight training, a reader asked for recommended reading. I was reminded of this groundbreaking book from the early 80’s by Gayle Olinekova which inspired me to begin my weight training routine. Gayle was ahead of her time in that she incorporated weight training into her marathon training schedule. This former Torontonian ran world-class marathon times and yet felt a little embarrassed about her very muscular legs, which did not fit the typical marathon runner mold or the prevailing feminine ideal. Eventually, she was discovered by Sports Illustrated and covered in an article called The Greatest Legs to Ever Stride the Earth.
Sadly, Gayle died in 2003 at the age of 50. Gayle’s book Go For It! was written at a time when books on athletics written by women were almost non-existent. It may be out-of-print but available used.
I can claim a shared experience, as she was at one time a member of the Toronto Olympic Club which I belonged to for a few years. From wanting to hide her legs to inclusion in Helmut Newton’s “Strong Women: A Portfolio of California’s Super Athletes” Gayle can be given credit for blazing a trail. Here is part of an obituary from the Los Angeles Times.
Gayle Olinekova, a marathon runner and fitness guru whose chiseled, muscular legs helped change cultural views about beauty in female athletes in the 1980s, has died. She was 50.