Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Review: Run Forever by Amby Burfoot

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Run Forever from Corner Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Somewhat overshadowed by the amazing performance of the women's' runners at this year's Boston Marathon was legendary runner Amby Burfoot's 50th anniversary of his 1968 Boston win. He finished in 4:53:22, a time that was about twice as slow as his winning time of 2:22:17. Considering that he is now 70 years old, that finish time would be remarkable under any circumstances! But when you think about how many DNFs there were at this year's race and the horrible conditions the runners had to endure, his finish is all the more remarkable. Amby recaps the race on his blog.

I'm pretty sure that Amby's years of experience and knowledge of running came in handy that day. In his new book, Run Forever, Amby shares his running wisdom with us! After 55 years and 100,000 miles of running, he wanted to help motivate runners who want to stay fit and active for life. For this review, Amby shares some of his thoughts about running and why he wrote the book.



What inspired you to write Run Forever? 
I was inspired to write Run Forever to encourage the many runners and other active people who would like to stay fit for life but did not know it was possible or did not have a guide to keep them going. My generation is the first in the history of the human race to actively seek lifetime fitness. There are no barriers as long as we make the right adaptations at different stages of life. I introduce the concept of "adaptive excellence" to explain that we should always set high goals for ourselves, but goals that are appropriate. In my 20s, I wanted to run as fast as possible in the Boston Marathon. In my 70s, I run-walk the distance hoping to finish strong and healthy in a time that is still a little bit of a challenge.


Crossing the finish line in 1968
What can people expect from this book? 
Most importantly, as I state in the Introduction, "Running is a simple sport, and it deserves a simple book." Run Forever is divided into six sections and 65 "chaplets" that are each three pages long. Each covers an essential element of running--Shoes, Carbohydrates, Knee Injuries, Marathon Training, and so on--and each ends with three or four action points. In other words, the book is organized to be simple, accessible, and info-packed. It doesn't have to be read sequentially. It's an essential guide. Every runner will use it in a different manner, seeking it out whenever he or she has a particular issue to deal with or a question they want answered.

Why have you decided to write this book now?
 I decided to write this book now because there is a demographic tidal wave of people reaching their 70s like me. Many began running in the 1970s, inspired by Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Jim Fixx, George Sheehan, and other pioneers. This same population is also placing a crushing burden on the U.S. public health system, with our medical bills. I don't believe running and fitness are a universal solution, but they can go a long way toward two important ends: 1. increasing one's personal well being and enjoyment in late life; and 2. reducing public (Medicare) medical expenditures. I believe in what Dr. Walter Bortz has written: "We live too short and die too long." Running offers an alternative approach: more years of active, vigorous living, and fewer years of decline. Who wouldn't choose that path?

What are your top three tips for runners? 
1. Remember that your brain is your most important muscle, not your heart or your legs or any other. So long as you keep your brain in shape--motivated, optimistic, seeking challenges--you can achieve amazing things with the rest of your body. 
2. Expect setbacks. Life happens to all of us. Stay calm but resolved. Time is a great healer. You don't always feel recovered from Life's setbacks as quickly as you would like, but that time does come. When it does, start moving forward with renewed vigor again. 
3. Write your own "Runner's Credo"--a short summary about (sic) your personal story and beliefs about running. (I explain how and give an example in the book.) Rewrite it often, adding new experiences and discoveries. Refer often to your personal Runner's Credo, and stick to your beliefs. The stories of other runners can provide powerful motivation, but your own story is even more compelling. 


Amby spotting his wife at the finish line of this year's Boston Marathon
photo credit: ambyburfoot.com
Run Forever is chock full of wisdom and anecdotes. While it is one man's advice, most of what I read is practical and applicable. Amby shares his experience with nutrition and hydration--he doesn't need to do either during a race--and while what he does works for him, it doesn't necessarily apply to most of us mere mortals. That's always important to keep in mind when reading advice from an elite runner. While I mostly skimmed through the nutrition section, I found plenty of helpful advice throughout the book. There is something for every runner here!

My favorite section was Amby's take on run/walk intervals. As readers of this blog know, I adopted run/walk intervals last year to help me with endurance as I battled through a new diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. It was only after reading an article on run/walk intervals written by Amby that I felt validated in using this method. As I said, "if it's good enough for Amby, it's good enough for me".
"I believe it (run/walk intervals) holds the key to through lifelong health through running--the ultimate goal of this book." ~ Amby Burfoot, Run Forever
Amby doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. As he says:
"Running doesn't get easier with age, but the payoffs grow greater. While none of us can know for sure that running will add years to our life, there's no doubt that it will add life to our years. Which is far more rewarding." ~ Amby Burfoot, Run Forever
Did you read Run Forever? What did you think? Was there advice that you didn't agree with? Did you learn anything new that you can apply to your running?

Welcome to the Book Club! While I no longer host a linkup, if you do write a review of this month's book and would like me to share your link in this post, please email me at wendy (at) takinglongwayhome.com and I'll add it! All I ask is that you link back to me and share my badge. As always, I'm so grateful to my readers for reading and to the authors/publishers who share their books with me to review. As always, so many books, so little time!


Next month's book has been sitting in my reader for a while. I'm excited to read this one because in Running is My Therapy, Scott Douglas shares his battle with anxiety and how running has helped him manage it. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. My book club review will go live on June 15. Please join me!



I'm linking this review with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five.



32 comments :

  1. I love his quote " While none of us can know for sure that running will add years to our life, there's no doubt it will add life to our years." It's kind of how I see running, it makes me feel alive!

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    1. I love that his generation of runners is paving the way for those of us who want to keep on keeping on!

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  2. This book sounds so approachable! Some of the running books seem to make me feel worse about my running almost like I do not belong reading them. My issue not theirs. This one sounds like it's written for mere mortals as well. Thanks for sharing! I am hoping to have more time to read this summer

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    1. This would be a perfect read for summer since the chapters are all 3 pages long. You can read it in small bites.

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  3. I love to read Amby Burfoot. I will have to get this book. Thanks for the review!

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  4. I need to get this book! I love that he supports run walk intervals and can't believe at 70 in those nasty rainy conditions ran a faster marathon than me- haha! Happy weekend Wendy!

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  5. I was listening to a podcasts recently and he was getting interviewed on his book that was coming out. It sounds like such a great book and I really want to read it.

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    1. I really liked that it's organized in "chaplets" so you can read it in small bites.

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  6. Sounds like a great read! That is a lot of miles in a lifetime!

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  7. I would absolutely love to give this a read- sounds so inspiring! I have been on a reading roll lately - adding this to my list!!

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    1. Do you have any recommendations? I'm always looking for good books!

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  8. I hope to still be running when I'm 70. He sounds like a very wise man! I like the idea of chaplets too.

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    1. After all those miles, how could you not be wise?

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  9. I love that he says to just expect set backs. It's so true. Life happens and it happens much smoother if we stay calm and just go with it. If we panic or get stressed out about it, it doesn't help our injuries heal faster or our schedules to be less hectic.

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    1. That's great advice. It's hard to follow for most of us, tho!

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  10. I love this - I really hope I win it on NetGalley but if not, I'll buy a copy anyway. I really want to keep running as long as I can and am hopeful I can do this; books like this will really help.

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    1. I hope you win it too! This is definitely a book I'll come back to.

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  11. I think I will buy this for my husband, who just turned 70. Although he already walks the walk, I'm sure it will be inspirational for him.

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    1. Alan should write a book! I bet he's got some good stories.

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  12. Sounds like a good read. His Boston finish time at age 70 and in those conditions is remarkable!

    I'm also looking forward to reading Running is My Therapy - I've heard such good things about it!

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    1. I'm excited for Running is My Therapy too!

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  13. Sounds like a great book! Running is definitely a simple sport so i like that he said it keeps things simple. And its so true that our minds are our most important muscle!

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  14. There's so much value in the run/walk method. I'm a big believer myself.

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  15. Thanks for the insight. I'll be adding this book to my running library. I believe running keeps us young...or feeling young. Either way, I'm a lifer.

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    1. This was a great book for runners of any level. I'm with you...in it for the long run.

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  16. I completely agree with his first tip. Running, like most other things in life, is more mental than physical. If you can’t stay motivated and focused, then it’s near impossible to expect that you’ll be able to progress.

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    1. Yep. It's not just about putting in the miles, that's for sure!

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