When I’m not running, I’m usually writing about it or reading about it. This post covers that last two. I usually review a single running book at a time, but I think this post works out that I get to review three different running-related books with three different type of “feels.”
In the order I read them.
Run to Overcome
by Meb Keflezghi
Link to purchase book
About the author: Olympic Silver Medalist (Marathon, 2004), ING NYCM winner (2009), Boston Marathon, 3rd place (2006) and the list continues with former records, championships and a remarkable college career at UCLA. Often referred to as the top American marathoner and responsible for helping along the recent running boom and causing excitement at prestigious racing events.
About the book: It begins with how his family came to America from Eritrea, Africa… a journey that probably could be a book on its own. It then goes into his college career, early running career, followed by his launch into an “american icon” status for endurance running. In between the stories about his significant racing career, overcoming career-threatening injuries, he shares details on the life of an elite runner from training schedules, to sponsorships to insight into how placing can often be more of a goal for elite runners than “going for it all” and trying to win at the risk of burning out — which was a really interesting point of view. It really gives you a look into what an elite runner does in between races that often get the most publicity like New York or Boston.
Often times, with the discussion of Meb comes up his American “status.” The book goes into some detail on this and how it has (sadly, IMO) been a discussion in the past and I hate to bring it up here, but it is in the book, which makes it relevant for this post. I’ll keep it brief: Meb came to America when he was 12 and became a naturalized citizen in 1998, the year he graduated from UCLA. His journey to America or his citizenship had nothing to do with racing or for competitive reasons and Meb does a good job of explaining what he (and his family) has had to deal with. It’s an honest look at the steps one must take to be a considered a “part” of this country.
A great running day in San Diego….thanks to my buddy Rich and Coach Larsen for helping out. 12mi run w/ surges. #support & next race Bix 7
— meb keflezighi (@runmeb) July 21, 2013
Final thought: I enjoyed the book. It’s about Meb, so it’s a great look into one of the best long distance runners of our time. The one thing different from most other running books was it being from the perspective of a current elite athlete. It’s not a look back at a collective career, or a single successful race after hardship or injury. It’s a look at the path he has taken to where he is today with his future still in front of him. Meb is still running strong, finishing 4th at the 2012 Summer Olympics. It is not a page turner, but it is a good read and a look at his journey to who he is today.
138,336 Feet to Pure Bliss
by Dane Rauschenberg
Link to purchase book.
About the author: Endurance athlete, speaker and author, Dane started off like many of us, running a marathon and thinking that was pretty much going to be it. To put it as general as I can, it just kind of grew from there as it does with many of us. Finishing his first marathon around the 4:12 mark and now comfortably leading fellow runners to Boston as a 3:10 pacer, Dane has made the leap from “middle-of-the-pack” runner to super-duper running dude. His list of other accomplishments include 52 consecutive weekly marathons in 2006, running a 202-mile relay SOLO and running from California to Washington (350 miles) in 7 days.
About the book: The sub-title to the book is “What I learned about Life, Women (and running) in my First 100 Marathons.” The book chronicles Dane’s first 100 marathons and goes into detail on each race, all 100 of them. It’s pretty interesting. It doesn’t get repetitive where he is breaking down each mile and/or his splits, but he manages to highlight a couple of key elements of the race or something that made it significant. This is key to keeping the reader interested as you are learning something new about each race, rather than how HE ran that day. I actually learned quite a few things from this book as Dane does a good job sharing what he has learned that allows him to run regularly and consistently. The book reads pretty quickly. I have no doubt that it could be read cover-to-cover with ease, but I found it nice to read a few chapters a week and sort of be able to pick it up without missing a beat when I wanted to get a little extra motivation.
The book is also very informative. I actually learned to how to run “tangents” from this book. Everyone may already know this, but I didn’t… and if I can walk (or run) away from a book with learning one thing that makes me a better runner, I’m all for it. Another thing that stands out from the book is the way that Dane shares his perspective on celebrating those that are able to resist putting themselves in a position to have to overcome something that they played a part in creating. Does that make sense? Dane is the published author, so he explains it better, but essentially he recognizes and celebrates those that overcome obstacles like drug/alcohol addiction or obesity, deservedly so, but also recognizes the strength is takes to NOT put yourself in that position to begin with. BOTH are worthy of praise and celebration and I thought it was an interesting perspective that we don’t hear too much about.
Final thought: I enjoyed the book and was able to take away quite a few things that are helping me improve on my times and become a more efficient runner. Dane likes to race and I was able to connect with that. He often get’s asked why he doesn’t “give it his all” and see how fast he can go or try and train for months and months and see if he could win more races. I’ll let you read the book to find out his answer, but leave you with the idea that winning isn’t always the goal for some runners. Some of is just really like to race and do it a lot… you may know one of those runners that has a blog that runs on pavement… and sometimes trails.
Bonus thought: Dane actually has this really funny aspect to his book where he will include footnotes on the bottom of pages that elaborate or add “commentary” to his story. It’s pretty cool and different from what you might typically find in a book. I found it humorous and actually looked forward to them.
by Rich Roll
Link to purchase book
About the author: Plant-based Ultra-endurance athlete. THAT’s a title. I’m going to list out some of his accomplishments (which he covers in the book), competitive swimmer at Stanford, top finisher at Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii (08, 09) – a 3-day 320 mile double-ironman distance triathlon and in 2010 finished 5 ironman-distance triathlon on each of the 5 islands of Hawaii in under a week. Oh ya, and did I mention plant-based athlete?
About the book: Well, with a list like the one above, you know what the “ultra” part of the book is, but the first half of the book is mostly how he got there. It covers his childhood, rise as a competitive swimmer for Stanford, his fall into drug and alcohol addiction, a rejuvenating mid-life “crisis” and his unconventional path to becoming one of “the World’s Fittest Men.” Rich also shares his knowledge on how eating habits play a key role in how we feel, perform and most importantly recover. There are some great tips on how to incorporate a healthier eating lifestyle into your daily routine. Being the first vegan to complete an Ultraman is notable… being among the top 10 males and having never competed in an ironman distance is remarkable.
— richroll (@richroll) July 13, 2013
Final thought: It’s a really great and inspirational read. The passion behind wanting to achieve MORE and using your entire mind, body and soul to get there just comes through the pages. The beginning part of the book mostly covers his “before” and it takes awhile for it to get into his endurance events, but it’s setting up the journey so that you can understand where he came from and connect with the idea that anyone can achieve their goals, but more importantly, not be afraid of trying.
Have you read any of these books?
Have any recommendations?