Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport

Why do you run?

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. 









51 comments :

  1. Great review and fortunately I have not read this one. After your review, I plan to skip it. The Great Ladies of Running Book is fantastic. I purchased it last week, should have been reading a bookclub book instead (whoops), but am really enjoying it and you will too.

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    1. I had such high expectations for this one! She's such a good writer, but maybe books aren't her forte. Im looking forward to Amby Burfoot's book!

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  2. Wow where do you find these titles? I think I would have had trouble finishing this book too. I am not interested in reading about failed relationships. I've had enough of my own :) I am going to look for Amy Burfoot's book. Looks very promising!

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    1. The title is what sucked me in! And her writing is so good--but this was not the book for me.

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  3. I was so good at reading the first few books and I kind of got sidetracked. Always appreciate the honest review. I will try to jump back in for next month

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    1. Yeah, don't think I"ll be having a lot of takers this month! But the next book looks really great.

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  4. Well that is pretty disappointing. Good to know and to skip!

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    1. I'd love to know if anyone out there read it--and what they thought.

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  5. Ok so I'm not going to be reading this one. Sounds like a downer.

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  6. What a bummer. I hate it when a book isn't what you expect it to be.

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    1. This one was a surprise for me. I try really hard to pick books that will appeal to a wide variety of people, and the reviews were mostly favorable.

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  7. I haven't read this one. Good for you for staying with it and thanks for the honest review.

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  8. I am not quite finished but I will be adding my review!

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    1. I can't wait to see what you have to say!

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  9. This is how I felt about the lady in Wild! Stop being abused!

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    1. It's good that they recognized it enough to write about it! Hopefully that will be the end of the bad relationships.

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    2. PS Thanks for linking up your review!!!

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  10. Well, that's too bad. I haven't heard of this book. I am looking forward to the First Ladies of Running Book!

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    1. I don't know--maybe other people would have felt differently about this book? I'm hoping to hear other opinions.

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  11. Sorry this book didn't turn out to be what you thought it would be. Big fail for me not keeping up with the book club this month. In fact, I haven't done much reading at all and I need to get back on track. Amby Burfoot's book sounds interesting!

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    1. No worries--I don't think you missed much with this one. Looking forward to having you back for June!

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  12. I'd probably toss the book too. Failed relationships don't hold my attention.

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    1. I'm glad she found something to help her deal with the failed relationships!

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  13. Bummer that it wasn't such a great one. I hope the next one is better - it certainly sounds interesting!

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    1. They can't all be good reads--I certainly try but hey?

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  14. If it's any consolation for having to read about failed relationship after failed relationship, your review made me laugh! (I loved that it was a near DNF for you lol) Hopefully the next book is much better! Once I get over this busy hump at work, I'd love to read the books you're recommending!

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    1. I try to keep it light! I wanted to put a positive spin on this one but it just wasn't happening!

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  15. I have to give you lots of credit Wendy for finishing a book you didn't really enjoy. Love your reviews.

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    1. Part of me kept hoping it would get better!

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  16. I'm sorry to hear you didn't like the book, I loved it and couldn't put it down. I'll link to my review once it's posted. But I understand how it might not be some peoples cup of tea as she did have a lot of fail relationships and poor me moments. Kudos for pushing through a book you didn't like, I usually just give up if I can't get into a book within the first few chapters. Thanks for the recommendation though and I will be checking out the next book for the book club. I actually picked up some books you had read in previous months because they sounded good.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this book. Most of the reviews I read were favorable, so maybe it's just me! Thanks for sticking with it and I look forward to hearing your opinions about the other books!

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  17. I'm looking forward to the first ladies of running!

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  18. I did read this one and enjoyed it very much. As someone who struggles with motivation and self-destructive habits, I was hooked from the very first page. I will try to post my review soon (I thought I had another week!) THANK YOU for another great selection! this is 5/5 for me ����

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you liked it! And that's the whole point of the book club--to discuss the books. We don't all have to like them. I hope you will read the next one!

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  19. I haven't read this book yet, but I appreciate your review!

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  20. I have to admit, I am not much of a runner and am not sure the book would be up my alley. However, I do think running is an amazing gateway drug to get people interested in fitness (I started my fitness journey by training for a 5k), and for that reason it definitely touches the lives of many!

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    1. I like that viewpoint--running as a gateway drug to fitness!

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  21. Thank you for your honesty...... I appreciate your frankness. If you were to recommend one "running" book that really resonated with you, what would it be? just one. maybe a close second.

    I have wayyyyy too many books on my summer reading list.....but trust your judgement in a good running read.

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    1. Tough question! I've liked almost every book we've read for the book club. But I loved Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana Ayers and Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley. Those were my 2 favorites--and were fun, light reads perfect for summer.

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  22. I've never read this book. Running changed my life. Probably not in a way that would be deep and profound. It simply became something I love and made me a better me.

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  23. So sorry to hear that you were disappointed with this read. I hate when I have high hopes for something just to in the end be disappointed. Such a let down.

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    1. I'm pretty picky when it comes to books, so it's always a disappointment when a book lets me down!

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  24. Sounds like your review is a better read than this book! The next one sounds great, though.

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    1. I'm looking forward to the next one as well!

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  25. I agree - this wasn't a great book for me either. It was short and yet felt long every time we got to a relationship-y piece. I enjoyed the running sections, so think I would still enjoy her articles on running but otherwise this just wasn't for me, unfortunately. I agree with your recommendation above on Running Like a Girl - I found that one to be a lot more fun and motivating.

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    1. Yeah, it was a disappointment, especially since I really enjoy her articles in RW and NYT. Oh well...

      Thanks so much for linking up!

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