“Here’s the good part: our gain for suffering through all of this is something akin to enlightenment. We understand that our bodies and minds are capable of far more than most people ever realize; that the primary limiting factors in life’s journeys are the extent to which our mind can dream, and to which we’re willing to work to achieve them.”
~The Running Life
My rating: A-
The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running is co-authored by one of my favorite running bloggers Donald at Running and Rambling so I decided to pick it up to give him a little support.
The book is a collection of columns written by Donald and his writing partner Mike from a local California newspaper, The Monterey Herald. Donald is a physical therapist and ultra runner (meaning he runs races longer than marathon distance, sometime much longer, up to 100 miles long) who has competed in some of the most famous endurance events in the world. Mike is on the Board of Directors of the Big Sur Marathon and has been one of the best Masters and Senior runners in the US - at one point holding a world age group record. In short, these guys are hard core!
The articles cover a wide range of topics including inspirational stories, running gear, social commentary, injury, training advice, race reports and more. The articles are not in any chronological order or build on each other in any way so you could read them out of order and jump around to whatever area is of the most interest.
There is a special section devoted to the Big Sur International Marathon and half marathon which are a real treat all on their own. Warning: Reading this book may lead to spontaneous race registration and/or adding the BSIM to your bucket list!
There is a lot to love here. I think my personal favorite article is the parody of the Wizard of Oz which tells the story of Dorothy from Del Ray Oaks, her dog Bobo and her training partners who " follow the hilly black road!" to discover strengths they didn't know they had through running. Good stuff.
I also thoroughly enjoyed some of the stories included here about specific races such as Donald's experience at Western States (that is one of those 100 mile races I was talking about before - this is also the article where the quote above came from) and the story of Dipsea by the Numbers ("14: Age of the youngest male and female runners to beat me").
For me this just might be the perfect book about running.
If I had to sum up what this book about, well it's pretty much all in the title. It's about living the running life. Its about how we runners see the world, how we live our lives, how we struggle to improve, how we connect with others, how we find our own hidden strengths and how we struggle with our short comings.
This book is about no one thing, so I suppose the worst thing you could say about this book is that is has no specialty. You will not set this book down with a better understanding of any one aspect of running. You will set this book down feeling proud to be a runner (or inspired to become one). This book will help fan the flame within you that keeps you motivated to lace up those shoes.
The Running Life: Wisdom and Observations from a Lifetime of Running is clearly written by two life long lovers of the sport. The love and understanding of the sport and the running community as a whole truly shines through. It is unlike any other running book you are likely to pick up and well worth the read for runners and non runners alike.
In you are interested in purchasing The Running Life please consider supporting this blog by using one of the affiliate links in this post to purchase from Amazon. (you can support two running bloggers in one shot!)