Friday, November 18, 2016

Book Review: The Inner Runner by Jason Karp

Ask any seasoned runner and they will tell you that running is more than putting one foot in front of the other. I've heard many runners say that running is mostly mental. And if you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I've chronicled my struggle with mental toughness here on the blog.

When I saw Jason Karp's newest book, The Inner Runner, I knew I had to read it. The subtitle alone: Running to a More Succesful, Confident, and Creative You--it spoke to me. Who couldn't use more confidence and success? We runners all know that running is good for more than our body. Karp does a nice job putting what we all know into words.




If you are looking for a book that tells you how to run, this isn't the book for you. Instead, this is a book for the cerebral runner, someone who looks for the deeper meaning behind the run. Someone like me...

Karp starts out by asking the question: "why do we run?" Ask any runner and you'll get a variety of answers. Karp sums up my thoughts nicely: "I just do....I don't know how not to run....Running is my sustenance...my companion...my best friend.'" 

And more simply: "because we can". 

Karp reviews the health benefits of running, which I found fascinating. With my medical background, I really enjoyed learning more about how running benefits our health, physically and mentally. Running increases serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. Since I have been struggling with some anxiety lately, I found this information really helpful. Running also helps improve immune function--to a point. Like anything in life, too much running can be too much of a good thing. Karp also ponders what would happen to him if he couldn't run.

Perish the thought.

My favorite chapter in the book was titled "Better Runs". Karp outlines the benefits of every type of run, from slow runs to emotional runs, from morning runs to social runs, from solo runs to races. Every type of run has benefits.

As he says:
"Better runs" means a lot of things. It means better movements, better thoughts, better insights, better experiences."
Karp talks about how running can benefit and increase creativity. He delves into the physiology of the brain and how running leads to adaptations that positively impact brain function. I don't know about you, but I always feel sharper on the days that I run than on the days I don't. Karp also addresses the runner's high...which he claims NEVER to have experienced. In fact, after reading this, I felt that he was a little skeptical about the whole runner's high phenomenon. He talks about "flow", an experience where his runs become easier and his energy level is higher. But he admits that this is not the runner's high that most of us have experienced from time to time.

I got kind of stuck on that section. In fact, I felt kind of bad for him. I'm no elite runner. I'm just a regular gal, a mom who likes to run. This whole section on the runner's high brought to mind a conversation a bunch of us moms had while playing bunco one night. Who knows what we were talking about, but after a few drinks, one mom admitted that she never experienced...umm...the happy ending. EVER. Stunned into silence by her admission, we all tried to recover and be tactful, and well, you know how that went.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Runner's high? That's what we're talking about here. I have had more than my share. I guess I need to be really grateful for that. I will say that the runner's high seems to come when you least expect it. The runner's high might come after a quickie--a short run around the hood. Or the runner's high might happen after a long, slow run, a tough marathon, where you've left everything you've got on the road. I've had both experiences, and I've had some in-between.

Still talking about running here.

Overall, I found The Inner Runner to be a great read for the experienced runner. If you want to improve your running game, you need to improve your mental game. This book is full of inspiration and suggestions to help a runner overcome weaknesses to become a stronger runner. I really liked this book and would highly recommend it to any runner who wants to look beyond their training plans to become a complete runner.
"If I am because I think, I am surely better because I run."

Did you read The Inner Runner? Thoughts? Have you experienced the runner's high? Care to share your thoughts on that? Does running make you more creative? More confident? More successful?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of this post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks. You can link up your blog post, Facebook post, or Instagram post here. No post to link? 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 I have a treat for all of you! We are reading fellow Tailwind Trailblazer and ultramarathoner Cory Reese's book Nowhere Near First: Ultramarathon Adventures From The Back Of The Pack! You don't have to be an ultramarathoner to enjoy his sense of humor or his story. I'm proud and excited to share his book. We'll be reviewing and linking up on December 16.

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37 comments :

  1. I've had this on my reading list for a while. I might have to add it to the xmas list!

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  2. I really need to make time to read...always scattered in so many directions. Both of these books sound great. Definitely interested in the 'psyche' behind it all.

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    1. I can do the physical part of running, but it's my brain that holds me back. I try to read as much as I can on the subject, hoping it will sink in!

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  3. Hmm....the runner's high. I had one kind of recently and got so excited that I had to tweet about it. But, before then they were so very rare. I think, with my triathlon training, I'm always running on tired legs and each run is a slog. It wasn't until this Fall that I've run on fresh legs...for the first time in a few years. Made a huge different in my love for running!
    And - I'm listening to Becky Wade's Run the World right now and it's great.

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    1. The elusive runner's high--we so appreciate it!

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  4. O wow! I knew Jason was a Dr.because he follows me on social media and often comments on our blog. I had no idea that he has wrote book! I m certain there is lots of good info in here. Also,I'm excited to hear bout Cory's book. I've been following him for a while now!

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    1. Dr Karp has written a lot of books on running--he's actually a great resource!

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  5. This sounds really interesting and insightful! I try to get out of my head when I'm running, but when I'm racing I know so much is mental.

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    1. For some of us, it's more of a head game than for others.

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  6. I have gotten about half way through the book. I really found it fascinating the first half but I kind of lost interest on the second half. great review!

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  7. Great review! Again, thanks for bringing another book to my "must read someday" list ;-) Runner's high? Absolutely! You should have seen me after my 12-hour ultra a few months ago...I probably had a stupid giddy smile on my face for a month afterwards LOL

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    1. After 12 hours? That's impressive. I'd probably just want to die...

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  8. I haven't read this yet, but it's on my list.

    Runners high is the reason I am still chasing this sport! Thanks for a great recommendation Wendy!

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  9. I can't even believe how many more running books there are now than when I first started running 20 years ago! It's so great!

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    1. I keep thinking about giving up my book club here, but there continue to be so many great running books!

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  10. Sounds like you found another good one! I do believe a lot of running is mental and there are many reasons to run and I am sure everyone has their own reason. There are so many books out there- amazing!

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    1. I've been reviewing books for almost 2 years and I never run out of interesting ones!

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  11. I think I need to buy this for my husband...and maybe steal it when he is done :) Thanks for the review!

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  12. Sounds like another amazing read! Adding it to my Good Reads list for the future!!!

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  13. Sounds like a good book. I think I know Cory. Fast Cory. He blogged a billion years ago. How great he wrote a book!

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    1. He still blogs his race recaps! I'm looking forward to the book.

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  14. I've known Jason for quite some time and I'm so excited he's having success with this book. It is sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read. I had to get through my FST studies first, so it's the next book on my list. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I really enjoyed this book. I found myself nodding along as I read it!

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  15. This sounds like one I should read. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  16. I think the runner's high can be found in anything that we find enjoyable.

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  17. Great review, going to check it out.

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  18. I've had my share of runner's high - the one I vividly remember is crossing the finish line at the NYC marathon. It didn't matter how sore my legs felt, it was such an emotional high I never wanted the feeling to end. Definitely enjoyed reading the book.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed! Yep, that post marathon high is like no other!

      Thanks for linking up!

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  19. Looks like a great read - I'd love to get hold of it too!

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