Sure, a lot of people run for fitness, but I bet there are a lot of you out there who run because it offers you peace of mind. An outlet. Solace. Clarity. Therapy. I know that's why I run.
In her very personal book, Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport, well-known writer Jen Miller--you've read her stuff in Runners World, The New York Times, and SELF magazine among others--bares her soul about the one steady relationship she's had. Through all her failed relationships with men, the one relationship that's always held up is her relationship with running.
Like many of us, Miller started running as an adult. As a child, she hated running. She describes her feeling for running as "hated with the burning of a white-hot fire". But as a college student, she started running as a way to avoid gaining weight. After college, she stopped working out until she was offered a story where she would train for a 5k and write about it. As she pushed through the training, her confidence grew and as she said, she "thrilled in every small victory'' that came with the training.
And so it goes. Miller takes us through relationship after relationship--all eventually very dysfunctional--and signs up for races to help ease the pain.
"Running became a way for me to take back part of myself, even when I was the one who let others take advantage of me so quickly....The more miles I ran, the stronger I felt, and though not recovered, at least I made it to a point where I could look for the new road ahead."Yes! How many of us have been there?
Unfortunately for me, as I read this book, I soon grew tired of the self-destructive pattern Miller had in her relationships with men. Every man she was with needed to dominate the relationship and she slipped into the vortex every time. If she were in front of me, I would have shaken her! Instead, I plowed through the book from one breakup to another. Fortunately, this is a short, easy read.
With every breakup, she would tackle another longer distance. Until she signed up for the mother of all distance races, the marathon.
"Training for a half marathon is like eating chicken nuggets, while preparing for a marathon is like starting out with the whole bird--unplucked. It's not simply doubling mileage, it's dedicating a sizeable chunk of your life to the training..."So yeah, she gets it, this running thing. Why doesn't she get the whole relationship thing?
Miller ends up running 5 marathons. Every chapter starts with a vignette from the New Jersey Marathon, her fastest marathon. New Jersey was her "marathon", the goal race where she set out to do herself proud. But it was really distracting starting the chapters like that. I didn't quite get it until much later in the book when she plans to "beat the marathon" with this race. It sounds like she's also in a good place now with her life.
I wanted to love this book. As one reviewer said: "File this under 'I was misinformed'". I agree. This wasn't the book I was expecting. I was hoping for something much more profound about how running can be life changing. Instead, this is just one woman's story about serial bad relationships and how running turned her life around.
If I wasn't reading this for the blog book club, it might have been a DNF for me.
File this review under "I was disappointed."
Did you read the book? What did you think? Has running changed your life?
Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!
Next month we are reading First Ladies of Running: 22 Inspiring Profiles of the Rebels, Rule Breakers, and Visionaries Who Changed the Sport Forever by Amby Burfoot. Burfoot profiles epic pioneering women in running. Being a bit of rule breaker myself and someone who doesn't understand the word "no", I'm really looking forward to this one! This linkup will go live June 17.