async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Book Review: Outrunning the Demons by Phil Hewitt

Friday, April 19, 2019

Book Review: Outrunning the Demons by Phil Hewitt

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Outrunning the Demons by Phil Hewitt from NetGalley and Bloomsbury in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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"And then I did what I have always done. I ran." ~Phil Hewitt
After a brutal attack where he was left for dead, accomplished marathoner Phil Hewitt found a new meaning of the importance of running as he sought to get himself back on track. In his new book, Outrunning the Demons, Hewitt shares his story as well as the stories of 30 other runners who have used running to overcome PTSD, addiction, anxiety, and depression. If you are looking for inspiration, this book will provide plenty.





I started running in my late twenties after anxiety and panic attacks threatened to take over my life. The physical release of pushing myself provided me with mental clarity and calm. Gradually I was able to say goodbye to those mental demons. Throughout the years, I've continued running to keep those demons away. Life throws all kinds of things at us and it's nice to have road therapy at the ready.

Because running was such a positive force in my life, I was really interested in reading the stories of others who have found running to be helpful as well.  Hewitt starts off the book by sharing the story of his brutal attack and his journey back to and through running. But as he says: 
"... it is my immense privilege to celebrate the tales of other runner who have been to hell--and found that the surest, quickest way back is to run. This book isn't my story. It is theirs. "
Readers who run might recognize some of the names in the book: ultramarathoner Charlie Engle, who has written his own memoir, Running Man, about his life with addiction and his salvation through running; Sandra Laflamme, who blogs at Organic Running Mom and shares her story of depression and PTSD: Linda Quirk, who started running to help deal with addiction in her own family and who has run 7 marathons on 7 continents among her other major accomplishments; and Lisa Hallett, who started the "wear blue: run to remember" movement after losing her husband, an army Captain, to the war in Afghanistan. If you've run any of the Rock'N'Roll Races, then you are familiar with the Blue Mile, which has evolved from Lisa's original gesture.

There are stories of lesser known runners in the book but they are no less impactful. While the runners in Outrunning the Demons all come from different walks of life, they have one thing in common: running saved them.

I won't lie to you--Outrunning the Demons-- while so profound and moving, is heavy reading. Although every story in the book has a positive outcome, each person experienced some tragedy in their lives that moved them to start running.  I found myself having to take a break from reading after a couple of stories. Gosh, life is hard, isn't it? Thank goodness for running. The stories Hewitt shares in Outrunning the Demons all demonstrate the transformative power of running, but also the resilience of the human spirit. Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people started running?

If you're having trouble lacing up your shoes, pick up this book and read one or two of the stories. Tell me you're not feeling inspired after that.
"Running brought me back from the brink. It taught me some valuable lessons. I know that I don't need to run now to achieve serenity and transcendence. Those are internal, and I reach them in other ways. But I have no doubt: running saved me. Life is good!" ~ James Buzzell,  Outrunning the Demons.
Life is hard. Outrunning the Demons /via @oldrunningmom @marathon_addict @bloomsburysport @netgalley #runchat 

Why did you start running? Have you found running to have benefits other than physical? Have you read Outrunning the Demons and if so, what did you think?

Next month we're reading yet another new release! I swear this is the year of the running book. The Rise of the Ultrarunners: A Journey to the Edge of Human Endurance by Adharanand Finn explores the unprecedented rise in ultramarathoning. It seems that the sky is the limit! Finn has written several other running books including Running with the Kenyans. I'm looking forward to reading his take on ultrarunning. The book is due to be released May 7 and my review will be posted here on May 17.




I'm linking up with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.


18 comments :

  1. It is interesting to hear about how and why people started running and what all it brought to their lives. If it wouldn't be for my family running, I don't know if it would be something I would have started on my own. ( Although, I AM the one who put together our first RACECATION to Disney, so perhaps Disney is what influenced me and NOT my family....haha). -M Thanks for linking up with us.

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    1. I think Disney is responsible for getting a lot of people running!

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  2. Thankfully I am not outrunning demons (except stress sometimes & occasionally anger). I started running to help with weight loss but it has brought SO much more into my life.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this book with us, Wendy. I had no idea you suffered from anxiety earlier in life. Running has been so beneficial to so many people. For some of us it's a lifeline. I kind of wrote along the same lines this week. Road therapy is a good term for it!

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    1. I lived with anxiety most of my young life. Thankfully, I found the gift of running. I think that's why I'm struggling to let go!

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  4. As a former psychotherapist, I have always found using running or exercise as a means of release and therapy fascinating. For me, running has evolved into a coping mechanism and stress reliever but it did not start out that way. Nice review

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  5. Wow, this sounds like a rally inspiring book, but I can see how it would be intense and require breaks.

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    1. It is really heavy in parts but always with a positive outcome!

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  6. Sounds like a good read. I will have to add it to my list. I started running to have something to do in the off season for volleyball. lol Now I do it because it feels meditative.

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  7. I started running for social reasons. My friends talked me into it. I didn't realize at the time how much running would add to my life. It definitely keeps me sane.

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    1. I would think with all the travel you do that running is the common denominator to keep you grounded.

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  8. My running is primarily fitness-based, but it has become pretty socially driven as well. It's great that a simple sport can serve so many purposes for so many people. We're lucky to have this gift.

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    1. So funny because I had the opposite thing happen--physical fitness was the unexpected benefit of running!

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  9. I started running because of a physical health-related issue but continued because of the mental health benefits. It almost always helps with my depression and anxiety, and I've been able to help others and find a volunteering role within mental health and running, too.

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    1. I won't lie--the last couple of months--where I've needed the road therapy--have been tough for me! Hoping to get back to the therapeutic benefits of running.

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