Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor

I received a copy of Let Your Mind Run from the author, Deena Kastor. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Ever since I had heard about this book, I was so looking forward to reading Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. From all accounts, I've never heard a bad thing said about Deena. Back in January, I contacted Deena to ask if I could review a copy of her book for the blog book club. She responded with the nicest message and sent me a pre-release copy in the mail. There was a lovely personal note enclosed as well.

Deena Kastor is one of the most decorated long distance women's' runners in history. She holds records in the marathon, women's masters' marathon, the 10 mile, 15k, and 8k. She received a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics, running the marathon in Athens, Greece. Throughout her running career, she has won multiple cross country championships, as well as many long distance races. Earlier this week, she lined up to run the Boston Marathon, but did not finish along with many other runners who battled horrendous conditions.



Let Your Mind Run is a memoir of Deena Kastor's running life, but more than that, it is a look inside the head of a champion. In her younger years, Deena ran on talent alone. Her strategy was to run as hard as possible. That worked out well for her until she was sidelined by the thing that every runner dreads, plantar fasciitis. She was determined to lead her college team to the SEC championship. Until she couldn't. And so it went for the next 3 years of her college career. Deena spun into a cycle of negativity. She felt like a failure. She almost gave up her running career to become a baker. I kid you not.

It wasn't until she connected with Coach Joe Vigil that she was able to turn things around and become the runner that she is today. In fact, she dedicates Let Your Mind Run to him. Coach Joe always sent Deena and team out on their runs with a positive statement. "It's a great day to work together towards our goals, " he'd say. He always would tell the runners them to "show up with a good attitude". Over time this positivity began to change Deena's thoughts and approach to training. She began to improve and started competing again, with newfound success.

Throughout Let Your Mind Run, Deena takes the reader on every run and race, not only on the road but also in her head. I found it fascinating to read her thought processes and watch her grow into such a tough, yet positive competitor. She says that writing this book was tougher than any race she's run. In her email to me, she commented:
"Writing it (the book) was harder than any challenging races I've ever run. It required more endurance, resilience, and positive reinforcement to sit, reflect, and write than I ever imagined."
Before I read the book, I found that comment puzzling. You would never realize, reading this excellent book, that she struggled with the writing. I read the book in 2 days. I found the narrative to flow as if Deena and I were having a conversation. I loved reading about her races but what made them so interesting was that she not only shares what she was feeling physically, she shares what was going on inside her head. This made the story personal and not just a regurgitation of an amazing running career. Not that I would mind reading about that!

Deena also shares tidbits from her personal life as well. After reading Let Your Mind Run, not only did I learn a lot about Deena, I feel as if she gifted all of us with the secret to being a strong runner. Talent can only take you so far. Attitude is gratitude, the saying goes. And a positive attitude will take you a long way.

"Running is how I've challenged myself and even challenged my mentality to stay positive so that in life; it's easier to be positive." ~Deena Kastor

Where do you find inspiration? How do you stay positive even when things aren't going well for you? I'll be curious to hear Deena's take on the Boston Marathon. Have you read Deena's book?

And if you're looking for another perspective, check out Liz's review here

Welcome to the Book Club! While I no longer host a linkup, I do encourage anyone who has posted a review of the monthly selection to share their link with me--I'll post it here! All I ask is that you link back to this post and share my badge. As always, I'm so appreciative of all my readers and of course, the authors and publishers who share their wonderful books with me!! I love to say it, and I know it's corny but so many books, so little time!!


For next month's selection, I am featuring a book by another running icon. Run Forever was written by Amby Burfoot, whom many of you may know as the former editor-in-chief of Runner's World, won the Boston Marathon in 1968. This year, to commemorate his 50th anniversary of that race, he ran Boston again--finishing in 4:53:22. Considering the horrible weather conditions and that he's age 70, this is quite an accomplishment. In his new book, Amby is sharing his wisdom and advice to keep us running forever! I'm excited to read this book and will also be sharing a few interview questions!



I'm linking up with the Friday 5.0 hosted by Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness.


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31 comments :

  1. This sounds awesome. Deena is amazing. I'm not surprised that she finds the mental shift to be one of the big keys to her success. Sounds like she had a wonderful coach in her formative years too. Ii never heard how she finished in Boston this year.

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    1. She DNF'd Boston but I wasn't able to find the details anywhere. She tweeted about it, but didn't provide any specifics about what happened out there.

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  2. I do not know much about her early life of running. How interesting that she was derailed by PF as well. It's easy to overlook how important the mental aspect of success is!

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    1. Talent can only take you so far--I loved that she worked on her mental game!

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  3. Deena was at Cherry Blossom - such an inspiration. Since I am so appreciative of the mental challenge of running and trying to get rid of PF, I think I should definitely read her book!

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    1. It's just such a good read--I truly could not put it down!

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  4. She’s sounds like an interesting incredible woman!

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  5. I've listened to her on two different podcasts. What an interesting lady. Also met her at Vermont City Marathon expo.

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  6. I would love to read her book. I didn't know she didn't finish the Boston marathon this year. I was listening to a podcast the other week and Amby was on talking about his new book coming out. That sounds like a great read as well.

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  7. Have you read Amby's book on women's running? I can't remember if you did and reviewed it. I loved every chapter, and I read it before tackling the Tinkerbell 10k.

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    1. I did read it and reviewed it. I thought it was great, but I'm still puzzled about why he included Oprah in the book.

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  8. I remember seeing her in Spirit of the Marathon and was always impressed by her attitude, even while dealing with an injury. Sounds like she's written a great book!

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    1. Funny thing, I don't remember her in Spirit of the Marathon! I think I was more focused on the regular runners than on the elites.

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  9. Being new to running I always wondered what the hype was about running books. Although from your review I can understand why. Understanding others perspectives, learning about their successes and even failures can provide inspiration and motivation to keep going.

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    1. There are so many good books out there and I've really enjoyed reading and sharing them here on the blog for the past couple of years!

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  10. Im so excited to read this! I love reading stories about other runners' struggles and how they overcame them.

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    1. I thought this was just excellent! Let me know your thoughts.

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  11. I want to read her book! This is such a great review, thanks for sharing!!! And I did NOT know Amby Burfoot ran Boston again this year. Good for him!!

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    1. I think sadly, the weather and the women's race completely overshadowed Amby's 50th anniversary run.

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  12. I'm requesting this from my library! thanks!

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  13. This sounds like a great read! One would never guess that she struggled so hard with her running and negativity. I guess it happens to the best of us. Literally.

    Writing can be a gut-wrenching experience, especially in the case of a memoir. You have to dig so deep, and share the highlights, but also the negatives. It's hard to expose yourself like that, knowing that millions of people are going to read and know and judge those internal parts, both good and bad.

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    1. Maybe that's it? I gather that Deena is a pretty quiet, focused person and maybe it was hard for her to open up. She did a fantastic job.

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  14. I can't wait to pick up this book. I'll admit that it's refreshing to know that even the elites deal with negative thoughts and frustrations just like us "normal" runners.

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    1. I think that's exactly what made this book so readable! Let me know what you think.

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  15. I have managed to review this in the right month! https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/book-review-deena-kastor-let-your-mind-run/ I linked to your review and the main Book Club page but didn't share the icon, hope that's OK (I can go back and add it). I found a lot to identify with in the book, including all the desperate visiting the bathroom before races and the thing about not running your marathon when you have all the training coiled inside you like a spring and need to use it.

    I have requested Amby's book from NetGalley so really hoping I get approved for it.

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    1. I read your review and I loved your perspective!!! Hoping you'll be able to get Amby's book. I'm reading it now. It's not as engaging as Deena's book but it's always good to read something from an icon, right/ Thanks so much for sharing.

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    2. Thanks for linking to my review in yours, too!

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