Thursday, March 11, 2021

Book Review: A Runner's High by Dean Karnazes

 Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of A Runner's High from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  This book is due to be released on April 20, 2021.

"To me, running is a grand adventure, an intrepid outward exploration of the landscape and a revealing inward journey of the self."~ Dean Karnazes, A Runner's High

When long distance running legend Dean Karnazes gets an opportunity to run Western States, a 100 mile race that he's run over 10 times, he admits to feeling 'terrified'. He says the last time he ran it, 9 years previously, he DNF'd. He says his body was 'wrecked', something that has happened to him many times in his running career. That last DNF, though, broke his spirit. He had unfinished business with Western States and entered the lottery, just like a mere mortal. When he learned that he was moving up the list, he decided he better start training for it. 

How does Dean Karnazes train for an ultramarathon? By running another ultramarathon, of course. This race, the Bishop High Sierra 100k, was a challenge for him because he hadn't trained for that distance either. Recapping the race, he says he felt like he was holding his own until a young runner passed him. Dean states early in the book that while he enjoys 'the thrill and drama of competition", he's not competitive. But the experience of the younger runner passing him bothered him--not because he would lose to him, but that he would lose his relevance. Dean poses the question: "what would become of me if something should happen that prevented me from running?" He states he needs running to be complete.

"In a sport that had become my life, I didn't want to fade away."~ Dean Karnazes.

And with that line, I was hooked. As an older runner, I feel that! I've read most of Dean's books. Not only is he an amazing runner, he's a prolific writer. In A Runner's High, he takes the reader on his journey to Western States, looking back on his career as a runner. Is he slowing down? Not if he can help it. He digs deep on his runs, relying more on experience and mental toughness than his legendary physical gifts--although he's nowhere near washed up-- to finish the race. It's quite a journey and I felt as if I was on the trail with him. 

A Runner's High is very introspective; Dean reflects on the past and shares with us stories of other races, including the Silk Road Marathon (525 km), which was a diplomatic nightmare. He shares stories of his family, including running with his son and his son crewing for him at Western States. He talks about the challenges his wife has to endure being married to an ultramarathoner. She sounds like a saint to me!

I found the book kind of rambling in parts but in a way, his digressions reminded me of the thoughts that run through my mind on a long run. He says running is a form of escapism; I completely agree with that. I loved his personal revelations--he's just like us! Except that he's ULTRAMARATHON MAN, lol. I'll never run an ultramarathon, so I enjoyed Dean's race stories. He's funny and humble, and he doesn't hold back on the details. If you've never read any of his books, A Runner's High is a good one to start with. 

"What I've come to realize is that the ending is not what matters most...but reaching the finish is not the ultimate prize, it's the story that's lived along the way. "~ Dean Karnazes

A Runner's High takes the reader on a run with Dean Karnazes! My review /via @oldrunningmom @NetGalley @DeanKarnazes @HarperOneBooks #running #runchat #bookreview #runningbookclub

Have you read any of Dean Karnazes books? Do you have a favorite?

I'm linking up with the ladies of Fit Five Friday:  DarleneMichelleReneeJenn, and Zenaida !




34 comments :

  1. I've never read one of Dean's books, but this sounds like a good one. I love his quotes that you shared here. Great review Wendy!

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    1. I always enjoy Dean's books! He's such a nice guy and an amazing athlete.

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  2. I met Dean somewhere....a race expo of course....I think he was in the North Face booth. Sounds like a great read.

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    1. I've enjoyed all his books but I think this one is my favorite!

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  3. I'm putting this on my TBR list. I've realized that the #1 reason I read running books is the same reason that I read running blogs - I just like reading about runners running. I'm in it for the "just like us" aspect.

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  4. I know I have read some of his books a while back.This one sounds like it's right up my alley and a I will add it to my to read list.Thanks for the review

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  5. I just LOVE his quotes!!

    I have not read his books but I think I need to. This sounds like a good one.

    Thanks for the review.

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  6. Oooh! I love Dean Karnazes and have read a couple of his earlier books. This one sounds great- it's going on my list!

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  7. My sister has actually met Dean so I wonder if she would like this book? Thanks for sharing! -M

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  8. Thank you, Wendy! I always love your book reviews!
    I have read his book “Ultramarathon Man” several times because he describes long-distance running so well. It's comforting to know that he has the same battles as an ageing runner.
    I really need to get his new book!

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    1. I felt the same when I read that quote about relevancy. I've been 'feeling my age' lately. That made me feel SO much better!

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  9. This sounds like a great book! It sounds pretty relatable, even though I don't run trails and have never done and ultra. I think its scary for many of us to think about what our lives would be like without running.

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    1. The thing I like about Dean's books is that no matter what distance you run, he's so relatable!

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  10. Such a legend, and a real person...just like us ;-) Sounds like a great read!

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  11. Gosh, I am trying to remember if I've met him before. I want to say I did but now really cannot remember. I am going to add this book to my list of books to read. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  12. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, so I haven't read his books. Maybe I should start for some extra motivation. It sounds pretty incredible.

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    1. I like to mix it up--especially with running books! Dean's books are a great place to start.

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  13. oh wow. I absolutely love Dean Karnazes. I would 100% love to read this book!

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    1. I think the release date is a little later in Europe--July?

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  14. This does sound like a good one and I love that he shares his battles and that they chime with us!

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  15. I have read at least one of his books; I don't remember which one though!

    For me, personally though, my identity is not quite so wrapped up in running. But then I'm never going to win any races. I know that I enjoyed the book that I read, but I guess I'm lucky, in a sense, that there are so many other things that I love to do.

    Not that I plan to stop running. I still enjoy the challenge -- most days!

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    1. I guess I do see myself as 'a runner', so I found a lot of what he said really relatable!

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  16. This sounds like an interesting read! I haven't read any of his works but I love reading about ultramarathoners - it's so inspiring!

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  17. I am flattered and humbled by this gracious review. Thank you ever so much. I'm glad that you enjoyed my book and I hope one day we can share some footsteps together.

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    1. I am flattered that you commented! I'd love to run with you some day!

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