Running into Something Bigger than Myself | She Explores

She Explores by Gale Straub

For every woman who has ever been called outdoorsy comes a collection of stories that inspires unforgettable adventure.

Beautiful, empowering, and exhilarating, She Explores by Gale Straub is a spirited celebration of female bravery and courage and an inspirational companion for any woman who wants to travel the world on her own terms.

Combining breathtaking travel photography with compelling personal narratives, She Explores shares the stories of 40 diverse women on unforgettable journeys in nature: women who live out of vans, trucks, and vintage trailers, hiking the wild, cooking meals over campfires and sleeping under the stars. Women biking through the countryside, embarking on an unknown road trip or backpacking through the outdoors with their young children in tow.

Complementing the narratives are practical tips and advice for women planning their own trips, including:

• Preparing for a solo hike
• Must-haves for a road-trip kitchen
• Planning ahead for unknown territory
• Telling your own story

A visually stunning and emotionally satisfying collection for any woman craving new landscapes and adventure.

The following extract is from She Explores by Gale Straub, Chronicle Books.

Running into Something Bigger than Myself

You can set yourself up to succeed by making success your only option.


MY LOVE OF RUNNING and my love of landscapes have evolved together. I’ve always been creative, and I pursued art in college, but it wasn’t until I found long-distance running that the two started to inform each other. My creative thinking really developed out on the trails, and my art projects were greatly influenced and inspired by the landscapes I was running through. It was a beautiful interaction—I would take off from campus on a twenty-mile run and I’d trace the beach, then I’d run through a canyon to a waterfall, and back to the beach to soak in the ocean. Now I am running in the epic and inspiring mountains of the Eastern Sierra, learning these backcountry trails and coming upon the most stunning scenes through my running. I am motivated by the land, and I love the intimacy of learning a landscape on my own two feet.

I’m fascinated by pattern and repetition of lines and the shapes that emerge in landscapes. More often than not the compositions of my photos centre around lines of the land, such as patterned snow on a mountain, or puddles and moss in the dirt. I’m intrigued by elements coming together: that middle ground. There’s so much energy in that spot where land and seasons shift.

Not only has running helped inspire my creative pursuits, it has also allowed me to dive into something bigger than myself. I’m a two-time Olympic athlete, and one of Saudi Arabia’s first ever female athletes. It was the most unexpected thing: I got an invitation from the International Olympic Committee to compete a month and a half before the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. This was this first time that Saudi Arabia sent female athletes, and the first Olympics where every country had female representation. I’m so grateful that I had that opportunity. It was one of those times where you lean into the unexpected. Running in the Olympic Games and being part of a historical event helped me find my speaking voice and passion for storytelling.

My participation was a pretty groundbreaking moment. I was doing so many interviews and in that situation there is no other option than to be on top of it. It was so important to properly convey the message and my story. That’s one of the most powerful lessons: you can set yourself up to succeed by making success your only option. This can be translated into so many other areas of life. I also learned the importance of telling your own story. Only you have the ability to speak to it genuinely. I figured if I was going to be in the news, the information might as well come directly from the source. There was definitely pressure being in that position, being a top news story, but with that pressure I was called to rise to the occasion, to be genuine and positive.

Now I’m training to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the marathon. On a personal level, it’s a daunting and inspiring goal. It will be the first time that any woman qualifies for Saudi Arabia. How meaningful to show that not only are we participating and able, we are here and qualified.



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You can visit Sarah Attar’s website here.