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Reading burns calories: The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women

Today I’m starting a new series called “Reading burns calories” in which I’ll review health and fitness books. You need something to read on the treadmill, right? Actually, I’ve never mastered the art of reading on a treadmill. It’s hard to read words as I bounce along my merry way and I’m usually going so hard that it’s hard to ignore the suffering of my body and focus my brain on a magazine. I prefer to use running as my meditation time. However, if you do read on the treadmill, I’ll be reviewing books that you might like. I probably won’t be doing it too often though because I read even slower than I run.

The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training by Dawn Dais

Full disclosure: My publisher, Seal Press, sent me this book for free a month or two ago asking me if I’d like to review it on the blog. Since my publisher has been nothing short of awesome and since I’m running half-marathon in May, I decided to dig in. I also thought it made more sense to read it before my half-marathon than after.

The book is a combination of a marathon training guide and a personal narrative of the author’s experience training for her first marathon in Hawaii. Why didn’t I think of jetting off to an exotic locale for my half-marathon? I’m just driving downtown for my race. It sounds so dull by comparison. However, I was smart enough to only sign up for a half-marathon instead of a full marathon, so I’ve got her beat there. The hybrid nature of the book made it more entertaining to read than some purely instructional books that I’ve read.

As the title suggests, Dais isn’t a runner, but she signs up for the marathon as a tribute to her deceased grandfather and as a way to raise funds for a stroke foundation. The book has a humorous tone through-out, with most of the jokes poking fun at the author’s own lack of athleticism. I don’t think she gives herself enough credit though. According to her journal she completed a 9-mile run/walk by week four, which is something I only completed for the first time two weeks ago after a year of consistent walking and running and 10 weeks of training. I doubt a lot of my readers could run 9 miles four weeks from now even if I promised them a million dollars. However, I haven’t experienced a lot of the aches and pains and knee injuries Dais did. Although she was able to complete the training, perhaps the sudden transition was rougher on her body than the gradual build up has been on mine.

The book covers all the basics of running – what to eat, what to wear, and how to think. It’s got all the information a newbie runner will need and space for journaling your own experiences. My only criticism is that it tries too hard to be funny at times, something I recognize because I know I can be guilty of the same thing. She also recycles the same jokes throughout the chapters, so near the end I started thinking, “Okay, spandex looks goofy, your running friend is really chipper, and you hate running. I GET IT.” Of course, not everybody reads instructional books all the way through linearly, so maybe this isn’t an issue if you just read the chapters on topics you are interested in.

I picked up a couple ideas from the book, such as choosing a person to dedicate each mile of your marathon to. There were some good quotes too, like one by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” So true. If you’re thinking about running a marathon, but are scared you won’t be able to do it, this would be a good book to read. Though, um, hopefully you’re experience won’t be quite as miserable as Dais’s was after she poured water over her head, shorted out her music playe, and was stuck listening to Milkshake over and over and over again for miles.

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38 Comments

Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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nmbr1soxfan • April 23, 2008 at 9:37 am

Hi PQ…I am so excited about this post! I have just started my weight loss journey, but I been toying with the idea of becoming a runner…but not until next year. Actually, I would like to become a runner before next year but the race I want to run is next November (2009). I will absolutely check out this book and if you have any additional ideas for a beginner I would appreciate it TONS!!!

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emmie • April 23, 2008 at 10:04 am

I too am on a bit of a weight loss/healthy living journey (-32.5 lbs so far). I have been flirting around with taking up running (I think it would be so cool to be able to say that I’m a runner.

I also wanted to let you know that I just got your book in the mail and it is awesome and I have stayed up way later the last two nights just so I could read a little longer!

-emmie

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PastaQueen • April 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

Good luck with the running! I wrote a post about running over here.

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anonymous boxer • April 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

I have an employee who wants to run in a half-marathon and I think, based on your review, I’ll get her a copy of this. She’s in the early stages of trying to find her “mojo” and this might be helpful.

I CAN’T read while on the treadmill… I wish I could but it makes me car-sick. Or, treadmill-sick… either way, not good.

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MizFit • April 23, 2008 at 12:19 pm

hmmm

sucked into wanting to read the book.

run a marathon? not so much.

M.

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Marla • April 23, 2008 at 12:21 pm

There’s a marathon on Moorea in French Polynesia that you should look into…

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Su • April 23, 2008 at 1:15 pm

I can see why you reviewed the book, but as an advice guide? I’d look for something from someone who’s run or trained people for a lot of marathons with good results.

Long time runners have a word for folks who start from zero and train injured for one event way faster than their bodies can handle it– we call them former runners. Because after the event, that’s what they are. Your co-publishee isn’t someone I’d want to take running advice from.

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cara • April 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Well, I’m a beginner runner so that book sounds right up my alley. I have to finish the book I just started first though, it’s a real cool book by this lady named Janette Fulda, maybe you’ve heard of her??

Anyway, I’ll stick it on my list of reads. Sounds interesting.

My third day of running was this morning. Only made it through 4 sets of running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds again, but at least it’s a start. I’m hoping I can be up to speed by the Oct 5th breast cancer 5k. Would be great to run it rather than walk it!

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cara • April 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Well, I’m a beginner runner so that book sounds right up my alley. I have to finish the book I just started first though, it’s a real cool book by this lady named Janette Fulda, maybe you’ve heard of her??

Anyway, I’ll stick it on my list of reads. Sounds interesting.

My third day of running was this morning. Only made it through 4 sets of running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds again, but at least it’s a start. I’m hoping I can be up to speed by the Oct 5th breast cancer 5k. Would be great to run it rather than walk it!

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Tracy • April 23, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Not my idea but a great one. . . I get large type books to accompany me on the treadmill. Warning though . . . cheesy novels seem even worse with with large print! I went to the ‘big’ library in town and the selection was slim.

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Riley & Tiki's Mom • April 23, 2008 at 9:13 am

I just finished your book. Totally awesome!

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Andrew is getting fit • April 23, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I’m not greedy. I’ll have a go at running 9 miles for a modest $10000 rather than the million you have considered offering. :)

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Laura Brandon • April 23, 2008 at 3:04 pm

I have one question: Why did she even have “Milkshake” on her player?

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PastaQueen • April 23, 2008 at 3:47 pm

She didn’t. All she could listen to was one radio station that was having a “Milkshake” weekend, playing it every other song.

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Red • April 23, 2008 at 6:09 pm

I just wanted to say I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!

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airlie • April 23, 2008 at 7:45 pm

9 miles in 4 weeks?? you got to be joking!!!!! It would take me 4 weeks to run 9 miles literally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Heather • April 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm

I’ll run 9 miles in 4 weeks for a million dollars.. hell, send me $20 or a copy of your book and we’ll call it a deal.

….Of course, I have been running for 9 years. :)

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Sayre • April 24, 2008 at 9:14 am

NOt that you need it, but I’ve given you a Blogging Excellence Award on my own blog – along with a plug for your book. I got mine a couple of days ago and it is exactly what I thought it would be. Your writing style is wonderful and I feel like I’m reading a friend’s diary – not a weightloss book.

By the way, I went to the back and looked at the before and after pictures. Not only are you in much better shape, you seem to have shed about three decades. You really look much younger now.

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Christina • April 24, 2008 at 10:04 am

The book is awesome! I was so excited when I got my package in the mail yesterday.

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Alissa • April 24, 2008 at 10:37 am

Just stumbled upon your blog and love it! I’ve run two marathons now, both in about 4 hours, so I mostly run them. I do think it is possible for people to train for a half marathon (I’m on the fence about the full) from not running at all. I would assume that they would be walk/running it, not fully running. If you are thinking about run/walking a marathon or half consider the Nike Women’s in San Francisco. Its supposed to be very friendly to walk/runners and it’s mostly all women. And you have about 6 months to train. If its your first time, I would definitely recommend training with an organization like Team in Training. You have the support of a coach and the comradarie of a team to do your long runs/walks with. I have more info on my blog about Team in Training http://www.balancingact.typepad.com.

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Elizabeth • April 24, 2008 at 11:48 am

Are you getting excited for your race? I know I am… I can’t believe that the race is in 9 days.. eek! But, I am super excited about the idea of dedicating each mile to a person in my life. Thanks for the book review! :-)

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Dena • April 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm

I am reading your book and I love it. It is going to give me the inspiration I need to eat healthy as a lifestyle. I recently lost 30 lbs only to gain half of it back in a year. Now I have to start my weight loss journey all over again, and I still have 35 pounds to lose. Thanks so much.

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PastaQueen • April 24, 2008 at 12:28 pm

I’m getting excited that I won’t have to train anymore!

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Miss_Thing • April 24, 2008 at 3:50 pm

The thought of running a 9 mile run after only 4 weeks of training makes my knees hurt just thinking about it! Thanks for the review, though, it sounds like a fun and potentially motivating read. I have to add to the love – I just received your book and having been ignoring my fiance and cats while I finish it. Thanks so much for writing it – I’m enjoying reading it. And thanks for continuing to maintain your blog. :-)

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jae • April 24, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I also just finished your book and I enjoyed every page. I too am also glad that you continue to blog even after your book came out.

I wish I could run but can’t even be on the treadmill for .9 of a mile without wanting to keel over, but like you’ve proven, you gotta start somewhere!! ~j

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Lisa • April 24, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I got my book today yah!!!!

That is all

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PastaQueen • April 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Thanks! It’s weird how weight loss makes you look younger.

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Debbi • April 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Hi, Jennette … your book arrived a couple days ago and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Inspiration anew! I think I’ll also pick up the book you reviewed; I have The Non-Runner’s Guide to Marathon Running (or something like that), but you can’t have too many guides. Can you? Heh. My first marathon will, I think, be late November in Florida. Plenty o’ training time. Good luck with the Indy race … I know you’ll have a blast.

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KC • April 25, 2008 at 9:14 am

I’ve got that book on my bedside table. I don’t really read it for training advice, and it does get quite repetitive to read all the way through, but it’s funny, and it keeps me pretty motivated. It’s a nice change from all of the “Look at how GREAT you feel; isn’t running the BEST.THING.EVER???” advice, and all of the sarcasm helps me feel a bit better after coming home from a totally miserable run when I need a bit of a pep talk to make myself go tomorrow.

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Lady G • April 26, 2008 at 7:44 am

I love that Henry Ford quote! It’s sooo true that your beliefs determine probably 98% of your ability (especially when it comes to undertaking things like marathons), and I wish I remembered it more often. Thanks for the reminder

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Erica • May 1, 2008 at 4:32 am

Yup, this book got me all inspired, too. I absolutely loved it. It also has handy little training schedules for both the 21K and 42K races, which will be helpful in a few weeks when I begin training for a half-marathon in October. Woot woot!

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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