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.
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.