Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species by Mark Remy

We are officially in the thick of summer. The dog days. Many runners are also in the depths of fall marathon training. Not this one, sadly. Damn you PF.

But I digress.

Long runs, speed work, tempo runs, fartleks, splits, yassos...GU, fuel, chews, hydration... compression, foam roller, Garmin...it's all running to me! Runners have their own language. Among other quirky things.

What do you think about on those solo long runs? Do you think about running? About other runners? That guy who just passed you? What kind of runner is he? Mark Remy thinks about other runners and over the years he's pretty much become an expert on running anthropology.  His new book, Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species is not only a laugh out loud read, it's spot on. Perfect light reading for this time of year.

You can purchase a signed copy here!
Or if you just want a cheaper, unsigned copy, you can buy that here!
Mark Remy is well-known to many of us runners from his humorous articles and now gone but not forgotten Remy's World column in Runner's World magazine. He is currently the proprietor of Dumb Runner, a website where he continues his amusing take on all things running. Remy recently published his 5th book, Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species where he shares his well-honed observations about all things runners.


Remy lists 23 "subspecies of runners". Seasoned runners will recognize most if not all of these subtypes. There's the obvious: the Elite Runner, the Serious Runner, and the Newbie Runner. But Remy identifies a few other subtypes that we've all seen at races or on the road. The Weirdo Runner, who "keeps things fun in a sport that can suffer somewhat by overearnestness". That would include those guys running in tutus and maybe Doctor Dribble, whom I saw at the Chicago Marathon. The Fashion Mag Runner, aka lopus lulemonus (gotta love the genera), who always looks "terrific". The Grizzled Vet, several of whom I've lined up next to at legendary races like the Chicago Marathon. The Grizzled Vet I met at last year's Chicago Marathon told me he has run Chicago for the past 25 years. Big Sur honored their Grizzled Vets at this spring's race--there were 12 guys who have run and finished Big Sur for the 31 years since the race's inception.

This was a really fun section to read. In case you were wondering, I fit the profile of the Mom Runner. Apparently, it's all about a love of running and wine. Oh and calling myself "badass". I had hoped for something more intense, like the Serious Runner. But in all reality, I have to call a spade a spade. I'm a mom who runs. I'm a runner who's a mom. Who likes wine. I did have a minivan at one time. I have a ponytail. And I'm not old enough to be a Grizzled Vet, right?
Graphic used with permission of Mark Remy
In fact, he encouraged me to use this photo even though Rodale has the rights.
Especially if I provide links to buy the book.
You can find them scattered throughout this post.
After describing the 23 subtypes of runners you might encounter, the rest of the book is devoted to typical runner behavior. Coffee and beer are dietary staples of most runners. But you knew that, right? And those of you don't drink either beverage, I don't even know you. Do you think you are a real runner?  Of course, that is a subtype too. The I'm Not A Real Runner runner. So much humility.

All joking aside, you know that if you run, you are a runner. 

At the end of the book, there's a handy dandy chart for you to keep track of all the runners when and where you see them. Kind of like Pokemon Go, without the bouncing ball. I dare one of you to develop an app for sighting all the runner subtypes. 

Runners of North America: A Definitive Guide to the Species is a very comprehensive study of runners. It is also very clever. Clearly, Remy has been studying runners and their habits for a very long time. He covers other topics such as psychology, communication, and behavior. I learned a few new things about runners from this book. For example, the cross section of the runner's brain, which while appearing much like a normal human brain, has several different sections including the Painful Memory Suppression Gland, which "generates chemical substances that diminish bad memories of the runner's last marathon". Much like the Mom brain, which does the same after the birth of a child (my comment, not Remy's). 

I completely enjoyed this book. As a person who works with the public, I'm fascinated by people and their behaviors. As a subtype, we runners take ourselves so seriously, don't we? And that's the whole point of the book. Not only did I laugh when I was reading this book, I found myself nodding at Mark's observations. In fact, when I'm running I spend a lot of time thinking about the runners I pass on the path. After reading this book, I want to go for a run with Mark Remy. We'd have a lot to talk about. And I promise to bring pie for the finish.

When I asked Remy what runner he was, he told me he thought he was a hybrid of the Dad Runner and Grizzled Vet. I'll give him that, since he's run 26 marathons and 7 Boston Marathons! 

What runner subtype are you? Anything he missed here? 

Here's the link up badge! You can find the linkup at the end of this post. The linkup stays live for 2 weeks. Comments stay live forever! Please remember to link back to this post. Try to read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link those posts up as well. I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club.


Next month we will be reading Boston Bound by Elizabeth Clor. I am so looking forward to reading her journey to the Boston Marathon after 7 attempts to qualify. Elizabeth writes a blog, Racing Stripes. She's also agreed to an author interview, which I am really excited about! Perfect timing for all you fall marathoners who are hoping for a BQ! This review and link up will go live on August 19.


Click on the photo to purchase the book!
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44 comments :

  1. This looks like a good one. If it's my MR, it's gotta be funny, right?

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    1. I wasn't disappointed! It was really good, and I'm sure I'll refer back to it from time to time.

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  2. I have 2 books I'm reading right now, but I'm going to check this one out when I'm done with those! Sounds like a fun read for a runner!

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    1. Probably one of the best humorous books about running I've ever read.

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  3. Mark Remy is funny and I do like to read his articles in RW. I am sure I would fit into a few of those runner types myself. I promise to get back into the book club in the fall!!

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  4. Okay, so now I wonder if I am secretly mentioned. A few years ago I ran with Mark and Rob at lunch time on "National Run at work day" and they had to slow it down A LOT.....lol.

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    1. He didn't talk much about pace...but I wonder what category you'd fall under...

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  5. Oh, that's great .I'm reading right now.

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  6. Mark is hilarious, his Facebook posts always leave me giggling! I loved his book "The Runner's Rule Book", so I suppose I'll have to check this one out too! Thanks for the review!

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    1. I subscribe to his weekly Dumb Runner emails and they are hilarious collections of randomness!

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  7. Sounds like a fun book. Looking forward to your review of "Boston Bound". I like the subtitle about overcoming "mental barriers".

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    1. I'm looking forward to reading that one too! Elizabeth Clor seems so "normal"! Just like us.

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  8. That looks like a fun read. Never even knew it they had books like this.

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    1. Oh, hang out with me...I find the good books!

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  9. This book sounds really interesting! I am adding it to my list... which just keeps growing.

    I guess by definition I'm a mother runner.. because I'm a mom. But I have to pick up the book and see if there is a "wanna be minimalist runner who wears a gps watch"

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    1. I hoped not to be the Mom Runner. But that is what I am.

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  10. I love Mark Remy! I think I need this one!

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  11. I like Mark Remy - he's pretty funny, and those runner descriptions are awesome.

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  12. the book sounds hilarious! a light read but i'd probably still learn something. i'll check it out for summer reading :D i wonder what category i'd be...

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    1. You'll have to read it and see for yourself!

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  13. This sounds like a book I would enjoy, and now I'm curious as to which type of runner I would be! I laughed to myself a little bit when I read that runners and beer and coffee go hand in hand! I always say there's something about runners and beer...which is ironic to me! But I'm as guilty as the rest for having a beer after a fun run!

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  14. Ha, what a cute name for the book!

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  15. I'm probably 'not a real runner' runner! I wonder when I'll actually start feeling like one.

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  16. Reading your review made me laugh out loud! Would have to check out this book. I know I've been delinquent with the book club. I am interested in Boston Bound and Run the World. So many books to read, so little time!

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    1. This was a fun read--a change from all the serious books we have read!

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  17. I need to read this one. I feel better about my beer and wine drinking now LOL a staple, huh?
    I enjoy people watching. I am kind of fascinated, especially when people do things I would rate as a little crazy...like the guy that pretend boxes all over the gym for a half hour. One might think i am judgmental, but I am really just fascinated that he doesn't care or feel self conscious at all.

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    1. For the last couple of days, there's been a kid--probably about 13 or 14, who has been dancing on the corner by the school. No one knows who he is. We all have our theories about why he's doing this. Kind of fascinating!

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  18. I love the subtypes of runners!

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  19. Great review! I am looking forward to readin Boston Bound! It's been on my list for awhile!

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    1. I feel the same way! I almost moved it up the list, but the last time I did that, it messed up the book clubbers.

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  20. Sounds like I also fit that "Mom Runner" description. And funny enough, I first car after I got my driver's license was the family minivan.

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    1. Oh, that's funny! A lot of my friends are giving their kids the vans. My boys should feel grateful I didn't do that.

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  21. I totally need this book. I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MY PEOPLE

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  22. Runner subtype descriptions always make me laugh. There's an awesome youtube video on it. Have you seen it? So funny!

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