Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: Run the World by Becky Wade

Imagine that you were told you could travel anywhere to explore running. You have a year to complete your journey. Where would you go?

Becky Wade, named "America's Best Young Marathoner" by Runner's World in 2013 after winning the California International Marathon, got such an opportunity. After graduating from Rice University, she applied for a Watson fellowship, which provided funding for a year of "purposeful and independent exploration and travel". Becky wanted to plan her journey around running and different cultures. She was curious about how runners around the world lived and trained.

Becky shares her stories in her book Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe.




When I first heard about this book, I was really anxious to read it. I had other books lined up for the book club and considered moving them around to put this one at the top of my list. That didn't seem fair to my readers or the authors of the scheduled books, so I had to put on my patience hat. I'm not a patient person.

Spoiler alert: It was worth the wait. In fact, like a good runner, I paced myself steadily through this one so I could savor every minute of her adventure. As I write this, I can hear Johnny Cash singing "I've been everywhere man, I've been everywhere man..." in my head...
With apologies to the man in black...
....Crossed the deserts bare, man, breathed the mountain air, man, travel I've had my share man, I've been everywhere. I've been to England, Ireland, Swtizerland, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, Finland. I've been everywhere...
Becky's journey took her through 22 countries (she shares her stories about 9 of them), 3504 miles, and 11 pairs of running shoes. She researched and joined local running clubs in the cities she stayed and was able not only run with some top runners but also able to secure housing with friends and friends of friends. By doing so, she not only experienced firsthand what it was like to live in those countries, she was able to use her money for other things, like food and travel.

Throughout the book, she shares her thoughts and experiences on and off the track. In particular, what stood out to me was the difference between the way we train for races and how runners in other parts of the world train. The Japanese runners are incredibly disciplined and serious. They also run mileage that is unheard of. I thought Sarah Crouch's 160 miles per week was ridiculous until I read that the Japanese elites run upwards of 200 miles per week, some logging 750 miles per month! The Ethiopians, aka the "Yaya girls" that Becky ran with run single file, randomly--no speed or distance predetermined--in a "follow the leader" style. They don't wear watches and aren't really sure of distance or time.

Not only does Becky share her running experiences, she shares a lot about the culture and lifestyle of each country she visits. I found this fascinating. She shared tea with the cross country runners at Cambridge, drank Guinness with runners in Ireland, and unwound in the Japanese onsen (baths), even a "fish dip". There's discussion about food--yes, she had a sandwich with Vegemite in Australia. The Kenyans she ran with in England eat a lot of white carbs, as do the Ethiopians. Becky returned to the US, rejuvenated and excited to incorporate some of the things she had learned and experienced on her journey, and won that 2013 California International Marathon.

More than anything, this is a book about running.  While I love reading about adventure travel, it was fun to read a travelogue about the sport that I love. This may be one of my favorite running books that I've read so far. It's an easy, joyful read about one woman's running journey. I hope she takes us on another.

If you want to read more about her journey, Becky Wade kept a blog, Becky Runs Away, chronicling her adventures. Runner's World wrote a recap of her journey back in 2013--it's worth the read as well.

Have you read the book? What was your favorite story? Where would you go for your dream running destination? 





I'm linking this post with Tuesdays on the Run--they're featuring Best Running Books. It's hard to pick a favorite out of all the running books this year that I've read, but I'd have to say this was one of the top ones!






An InLinkz Link-up

This post contains affiliate links.

41 comments :

  1. I loved this book as well and seem to be reading or have read the books that you choose each month. Becky really did a great job highlighting her trip and it was a book that I never wanted to end. Sharing recipes of the unique foods she tried during her adventure was fun and something unexpected. Picking a favorite part of the book would be like choosing a favorite child......I can't!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't it be fun to do this? Even on a smaller scale? Where would you go?

      Delete
  2. Wow, I will definitely be reading this one. I love learning about other cultures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was excellent! I can't recommend it enough.

      Delete
  3. DEFINITELY adding this to the list. This sounds like such a great book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a must read for any runner--I think non-runners would enjoy it as well!

      Delete
  4. This sounds like a great one for me on audio - that's the format I tend to gravitate towards for sports memoirs. I'm adding it to my list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This would be a good one to listen to on a long run!

      Delete
  5. i'm so bad with reading books but this looks like a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had not heard of this book until I saw it on your list. Looks like Becky had such a cool journey of running and learning about other cultures. I have the next book on my night stand now just have to finish it

    ReplyDelete
  7. I thought I posted my comment, but it's not showing (???). Anyways, I'm so glad you do these awesome book reviews. I just do not make the time to sit and read like I should...my bad. Maybe this book will make its way to my house....

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds like an amazing read!!! Adding it to my Good Reads list for the future!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have not read this book so thank you for introducing it to me! Oh and I would love to read The Inner Runner too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh man, I wish so much I had more time to read. You're killing me with all of these book recommendations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just go to bed really early. I'm so much fun.

      Delete
  11. Wow, what an awesome opportunity she was given to be able to do this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ummmm this is my dream!! Can I be her? No? Okkkkk I guess I'll just read the book and live vicariously through her. But damn, I want to be her! hha

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow! Japanese elites run 200 miles/week! Sounds like a great book!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Talk about an opportunity of a lifetime. Its official Im jealous. Sounds like a great book!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds like a great read. Adding it to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will motivate you for your marathon!

      Delete
  16. What a cool idea! I bet it's a fantastic read. I'm not sure where exactly I would want to run ... there are just so many cool places to choose from! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm kind of sad it's over! I felt like I was on her journey with her!

      Delete
  17. I'm falling way behind on the book club, it's awful! But I will catch up! I promise !

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a great idea- love it! Nice review too! I definitely will order this one :) Even if you just had the summer off to travel and run like that- what an adventure! I think I would start in Ireland and make my way around from there!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great review! This is defiantly going on my to read list.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This sounds like a great book! So interesting to learn about different running cultures around the world. I need to join you for your next Book Club, I've clearly been missing out on some good reads!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was one of my favorites this year! What a dream come true for a runner!

      Delete
  21. Wow! That sounds like a very fascinating book. Definitely adding it to my list.

    ReplyDelete