The book is part memoir, part running guide. The first half of the book focuses on the author and her journey. One of my favorite aspects is the author's candid discussion about some of the hardships she faced. This section is prevented from being overly self-indulgent by the author's ability to bring in stories that put her running journey into a larger context. She discusses things like the history of women in distance running and the fact that they weren't even allowed to participate as late as the 1970s. People literally thought distance running could make a woman's uterus fall out! There is an incredible story about Kathrine Switzer who ran the Boston Marathon in 1967. She signed up using her initials so it wasn't evident she was a woman. When one of the race directors saw a woman running the course, he physically jumped on the course to try to stop her. She managed to finish anyway but her time wasn't recorded. The second part of the book is more of a practical guide to help the reader on their own journey.
Each chapter begins with inspirational quotes. But often the author's own words are just as inspirational as the quotes, such as the following: "once you have taught yourself that running isn't about breaking boundaries you thought you could never smash, and realized that it is about discovering those boundaries were never there in the first place, you can apply it to anything."
Here is another gem: "Running is awful. It feels unnatural, unnecessary, and painful. It can hijack you with breathlessness, cripple you with panic, and overwhelm you with self-consciousness....It is also the pleasure of being outside on a sunny day, feeling the prickle of the sun on your skin. It is the delight of feeling your body temperature rise despite the crisp winter breeze against your face....And, as I have learned, it is an honor, a privilege, and a gift."
The book does a great job of talking about the emotional and mental sides of running, not just the physical. I would recommend it for anyone new to running who wants to learn more about it as well as to experienced runners looking for funny stories and renewed inspiration. It is written exceptionally well. I looked up the author's background once I finished the book and learned that she was a journalist long before she was a runner, which shows in the quality of writing. I leave you with a Youtube video of the author that I feel displays her sense of humor and the sensibility of the book.
Are there any running books you would recommend?