Showing posts with label running book club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running book club. Show all posts

Friday, November 22, 2019

Book Review: Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb

Disclaimer: I originally reviewed Older, Faster, Stronger by Margaret Webb in 2014. This is an update of my original post. It's such a great book that I wanted to revisit it. This post contains affiliate links.

I hope you don't think I'm being pompous by saying that I could have written this book. At age 51, after being plagued with running injuries, I decided to work with a CrossFit coach to get stronger so that I could keep running the rest of my life. She worked my muscles, while I was in charge of my running. That year was incredible for me. I ran my second Chicago Marathon, finishing with a 1 hour, 10 minute PR. That was the year that I finally felt comfortable with the fact that I'm in my 50s. I was in the best shape of my life and that reshaped my attitude about growing older.

Five years later, I still find this book as relevant as before. Those of you who regularly follow me, either here on the blog or on Instagram know that I've continued running, although my marathon days are behind me. I've increased my strength training to twice weekly and have continued to get stronger. While I don't buy into the "age is just a number" nonsense, I do believe that growing older doesn't have to mean giving up active pursuits! We just have to be smarter about it.


At the time Older, Faster, Stronger was released, I was drawn to the book--because Webb's goal, at age 51, was to have her "fittest year". A lifelong runner, she wanted to shake off her midlife malaise and regain the level of fitness she enjoyed in her 20s as a collegiate runner. Her race goal? To place in the top 10 for the half marathon at the World Masters Games. Along the way, she consulted with experts and legends in women's running, using this information to crush much of the so-called wisdom about aging athletes.
"The difference between the front and the back of the pack tends to widen in older age groups, and often the vastly superior winners of older age-groups ran fast enough to be competitive in age groups younger than their own--clearly able to maintain their incredible speed through training, talent, or some other means of resistance to aging."
This is something I've noticed at races as I've moved through my 50s. The women at the top of the leaderboard are still amazingly fast. When I first saw this, I was shocked at the speedy finish times of some of the women in my age group. I can't help but wonder why? Is it genetics? Training? Diet? Webb tries to sort some of this out. She talks about the importance of sleep and diet in older athletes. While younger athletes can skip a night of sleep and still run well, can feast on junk food and not have it affect performance, the same does not hold true for the older athlete. I also liked her information on carb loading, which essentially is bad advice for older female endurance athletes. Apparently, we don't burn fuel like men do. Interesting! Webb also stresses the importance of cross-training, including yoga, which is so good for runners.

The iron nun, Sister Madonna Buder, at age 83, one of the women featured in the book. She has completed 300 triathlons and 45 Ironmans since taking up running at age 48! She qualified for Boston with her first marathon at age 52. 
There's a lot of detail in the book, and keep in mind that this book is really for running junkies and women looking to maintain or maximize their fitness as the years march on.
"A lot of research now shows that training--aerobic, anaerobic, and strength--has effects on the human body at any age. At any age, you can improve the human body. Exercise can literally keep you young. "
Now, this is good news!! These studies also show that all this exercise causes the release of growth hormone and that may very well be the fountain of youth. Interestingly, human growth hormone (HGH) has been used by endurance athletes to improve performance but is a banned substance. The research to support HGH in endurance sports is limited. That doesn't stop athletes from trying it.

In Older, Faster, Stronger, Webb outlines her race strategy in great detail, including the use of mantras or power words, in her case, one word for each loop of her race:
"fun, stronger, faster, and fearless" 
While I won't share the outcome of her race in this review, I can attest to the power of positive thinking and the use of mantras during a race. I often use mantras during a tough race. Mostly I remind myself to "run your own race" and not get caught up in what is going on around me. Listening to music, especially in long races, can help me shut out the world and get in my head to keep myself focused.

Webb also stresses the importance of bonding with other racers, particularly pre-race:
"For women, this prerace hug fest may be a potent secret weapon, as social bonding can release the hormone oxytocin, which has been credited with reducing fear, anxiety, and even inflammation" 
I completely agree with this, in fact, I just published a post on how to meet running friends. As I've grown older, it's become more important for me to have a sisterhood who 'gets' what I'm going through. Having those friends with me at the start line really helps me stay calm and makes the experience much more fun!

Webb encourages us to be proud of our efforts, whether we reach our goals or not:
"But an important lesson I have learned from my running career: While we can't control the outcome of a race, we can control the effort we put into it, and its important to celebrate that effort, and to celebrate ourselves."
I really enjoyed Older, Faster, Stronger. There are so few books that address the concerns of women who want to keep running as they age. If you are looking for a weight loss book or a guide for beginning runners, this is not that book. Older, Faster, Stronger is written for women endurance athletes who are looking for encouragement and guidance about running the rest of their lives. Webb nailed it, in my opinion. The book is well written and easy to read. Really, for me, I felt like I was talking to a friend about running.

I want to be fitter, faster, and stronger! Older? Not so much. Doing it my way!  /via @oldrunningmom @MargaretWebb @RodaleBooks #running #runchat 

Are you an 'older' athlete? If so, what are you doing to 'stay young'? Do you have any goals that you want to achieve? Do you use mantras at races? 

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


Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience

This post contains affiliate links.
"Endurance isn't the ability to overcome pain, it is the ability to embrace it with no end in sight."
"Endurance is about trusting the invisible voice you believe in, even if nobody else does. Because there's just as good a chance as not that something's really there.
"But endurance is the ability to continue despite past results and with disregard for future outcomes." 
Jennifer Pharr Davis, author, National Geographic Adventurer of the year, and record holder of the fastest-known time on the Appalachian Trail for four years --her record was broken by Scott Jurek, whose book North details his Appalachian Trail run-- shares stories of feats of endurance as well as her own story in the very engaging The Pursuit of Endurance. Like Jurek's book, I expected The Pursuit of Endurance to be Pharr Davis' story, but instead, she shares her story along with the stories of many others who have inspired her. Interspersed throughout the book are tips and advice to guide the reader to developing endurance as well as mental toughness. She believes and espouses that anyone who really wants to do can push themselves farther than they think.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: The Athlete's Guide to CBD by Scott Douglas

Disclaimer: I received a pre-release copy of The Athlete's Guide to CBD by Scott Douglas from Net Galley and PenguinRandomHouse Books in exchange for my unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard about CBD (cannabidiol). If you believe what everyone is saying, CBD seems to be that "miracle" substance that can cure everything. I've had more people suggest I use CBD for my rheumatoid arthritis than I can count. The last time I went for a massage, my massage therapist opened a jar of CBD capsules, shook out a few, and offered them to me. "It will enhance the experience", she said. (I took a pass.) The local video store--believe it or not, there is still one just down the street--advertises CBD oil on its sign. A neighbor swears by the CBD oil he buys at the local gas station.

Can so many people be wrong? Is CBD the real deal? Or is it the modern version of snake oil? Is CBD something runners could benefit from?

I've been using a topical CBD product on my joints when they are inflammed and yes, I'm finding CBD to be an effective adjunct to my medications. I've also noticed that I have been sleeping better when I use it.

Is it the real deal? A magic bullet? Or is CBD just another supplement that is really a placebo?



Friday, August 23, 2019

Book Review: Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Running with Sherman from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review. The book is due to be released on October 15. This post contains affiliate links.

Why on earth would I want to read a book about a guy who adopts a mangy, depressed donkey and decides he wants to run the World Burro Championships with him? Because it's Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run. Born to Run is one of my all-time favorite books about running and it is credited with starting the whole barefoot running craze.

McDougall has been sharing stories about Sherman in his New York Times column, Running with Sherman. The book grew from these anecdotes and is written in the same style as Born to Run. There's McDougall's personal story interspersed with sidebar plots, lots of history about trail running, ultramarathoning, and burro racing. As with Born to Run, Running with Sherman makes for a very compelling read.



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Global Running Day Book Review: Running for Good

Disclaimers: I received a pre-release copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good. This post contains affiliate links. 

It's Global Running Day! I just love this annual celebration of running, an endeavor that has given so much to me personally. Runners around the world have been pledging their miles. There are Global Running Day events all over the US. My local running club is hosting a 3 mile fun run. While I have to work that day, I'll be participating in the New York Road Runners' free virtual run.

I'm also excited to share a special book review just in time for Global Running Day! Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good by Amy Newmark and Dean Karnazes, is being released today. I'm pretty sure most of us are familiar with the Chicken Soup series of books. The original Chicken Soup for the   Soul was released 25 years ago. Currently, there are over 250 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, covering a wide variety of topics. The feel-good books are full of inspirational stories and anecdotes submitted by readers.

Running for Good follows the same Chicken Soup format that has been so successful over the years. There are 101 stories submitted by real-life runners. Each story begins with a motivational quote. Dean Karnazes shares a story of running the Silk Road in Kyrgyzstan and having to seek shelter with a family when the weather conditions became unbearable. In spite of being miserable, in spite of not speaking Kyrgyz, Dean left this encounter feeling good. Good about running and about the kindness of strangers.



Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Review: The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn

Disclaimers: I received a pre-release copy of The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn from NetGalley. This post contains affiliate links.





"And there it is, deep in the pain cave, as they told me all along, that the fun begins." ~Adharanand Finn, The Rise of the Ultra Runners

Why on earth would anyone want to run a marathon? That's what people used to say to me when they found out I was running 26.2 miles. But for a lot of runners, the marathon is just the gateway drug to the ultrarunning world. What's the limit? I have no idea. My friend Kristina, who ran the Big Sur Marathon with me, has become an ultra runner and recently announced that besides running Western States, she's running a 250 mile race this year.

Hold up! 250 miles?

Have you noticed that everyone seems to be signing up for ultras these days? If you haven't, you're not paying attention. Ultramarathons have increased 1000% in the past decade. Some races, like the Western States 100 and the European equivalent, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), which takes place in the Alps, require runners to qualify for the races. The rules are very specific.

Adharanand Finn, an accomplished road runner with a 2:50 marathon PR and author of Running with the Kenyans, decided to see for himself exactly what the ultramarathon phenomenon was all about. For his first race, he signed up for the Oman Desert Marathon, a 156 km race that takes place over 6 days in the Saharan Desert. He was completely unprepared for the experience, but ~spoiler alert~ he finishes. And so goes the start of his adventure in ultrarunning.


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.

***
"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.



Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Review: Running Home: A Memoir by Katie Arnold

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Running Home: A Memoir from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


*******************

"Some days I can no longer tell if running is madness or the clearest kind of sanity."

Katie Arnold is probably one of the best runners who happens to write. You might not have heard of her, but chances are you've read one of her articles in the New York Times, Runner's World or Outside Magazine, among others. She is also an elite ultramarathoner with an amazing list of accomplishments including first woman in the 2018 Leadville Trail 100 run.

Katie's love of running started by accident when her father signed seven-year-old Katie and her sister up for the Fodderstack 10k classic. Her father, David Arnold, a National Geographic photographer, wanted to take a picture of the sisters crossing the finish line. It took her almost 2 hours to finish. After the race, he had the girls run and crawl across the finish line multiple times so he could capture the moment on film. On the way home from the race, Katie had an insight:
"Suffering and perseverance were their own rewards. They could make me stronger. They could make all the tricky bits of life seem easier." ~Katie Arnold, Running Home: A Memoir.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review: Good to Go by Christie Ashwanden

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader's copy of Good to Go from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This review contains affiliate links.


"The explosion of recovery products and services can seem ridiculous because in its most basic form--a return to readiness following an intense workout or competition--everyone intuitively knows what recovery is and how to achieve it." ~Christie Aschwanden, Good to Go

Runners and other athletes are always looking for that magic bullet to help us bounce back faster from a hard workout or a long run. We agonize over fueling and diet. We take supplements. We foam roll. We roast in a sauna or freeze in a cryo tank. We wear compression. It's not just amateur athletes--the pros are all about recovery and will go to any extreme to recover from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), even soaking in a vat of red wine, so-called "vinotherapy".

In her newly released book, Good to Go, author Christie Aschwanden explores the science of recovery. Not only does she share funny anecdotes and the science behind some of the recovery methods, but Aschwanden herself also tries some of the methods purported to help with recovery. Taking one for the team, so to speak.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Book Review: Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
 "Maybe people became the best and worst versions of what you projected onto them, she thought--they became the stories you told yourself, so they filled the holes of your own story, the ones you didn't want to look."~Jaclyn Gilbert, Late Air 
It's pretty rare to find fictional books about running, much less good fiction about running. Most of the running fiction books I've read have been about as exciting as the treadmill. I was excited to see Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert as a new release and I wanted to read it, but I checked out the reviews before I committed to it.  Combined with positive feedback and a Kindle deal (which is still a bargain at 5.99), I downloaded the book and immediately dug in.

I couldn't put it down. In fact, I moved it to the top of my list of books to review for 2019. It was that good.



Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review: Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-free Running

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I'm probably the only runner who hadn't read ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. When Amazon had a Kindle Daily Deal for the updated edition of the classic book, I jumped on it. I was curious to learn more about this method purported to reduce running injuries and improve running form.

Based on the principles of T'ai Chi, ChiRunning builds on the premise of having a strong core and fluid movements. The goal is to take the work off the legs and feet, thus preventing injuries and increasing efficiency.

It all sounds so good!



Friday, October 19, 2018

Book Review: What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan

This post contains affiliate links.

I chose this month's book club selection, What Made Maddy Run, based on its connection to running. As I read it, I realized that the book was less about running and more about growing up in a life filled with the pursuit of perfection. Maddy just happened to be a track standout. But her struggles were more about her adjustment to college and as an Ivy League athlete.

It was a dilemma. Do I choose another book that was more of a traditional "running book", the kind that my blog readers are accustomed to? Or do I review this book, less about running and more about the struggles of coming of age in a competitive world? The book is also about the impact social media has on how we see ourselves.

This book was so well written and the subject matter too important to pass up. I think you'll agree.



Friday, September 21, 2018

Book Review: Endure by Alex Hutchinson

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

As a long distance runner, I've always been fascinated by the subject of endurance. Especially because running long distances has never come easily to me. While I was able to train for and run several marathons, I never understood the science behind the training. Why is the long run 20 miles? Why do some runners do more than one long run? Is carb loading really necessary?

I trained for my PR marathon using an unconventional combination of running and interval training in the CrossFit box. My coach pushed me hard, hoping to get in my head--in a good way. It worked. When naysayers dissed me, I always commented that "endurance is endurance".

As it turns out, I was right. There's also a mind/body connection. Endurance isn't as simple as it might seem.

I've been a long time fan of Alex Hutchinson, who has been writing his Sweat Science column first for Runner's World and now at Outside Magazine. Being a skeptic of bad science, I have always appreciated his very thorough analysis of the research on all things running. When I saw that he was releasing a book on endurance, I was really looking forward to reading it. I knew that Endure would be thoroughly researched and after reading it, I am not disappointed.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: Living with a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet

This post contains affiliate links. 

A while back, Allie, who blogs at VITA Train for Life, reviewed Jesse Itzler's book Living with a Seal. She loved it and after reading her review, I was intrigued. Who on earth would invite a Navy Seal to live with them as a means to get in shape?

Jesse Itzer, entrepreneur and successful businessman wanted to get whipped into shape and he was looking for some mental toughness, so he chose Navy SEAL David Goggins, aka The Toughest Man Alive to train him. Goggins agreed to train Itzler but only on one condition: that Itzler does everything he said.

And he meant EVERYTHING.

This guy is hardcore. The training makes for a good story, but the way Itzler tells it, it's hilarious. There's no whining. There's no quitting. To emphasize Goggins' no-nonsense approach, Itzer only refers to him as SEAL throughout the book.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Book Review: North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek

This post contains affiliate links.

Well-known ultramarathoner Scott Jurek could have rested on his accomplishments without taking on any other challenge. The 7-time Western States 100 mile winner and record holder for many other ultramarathons says he always dreamed of doing a long trail hike. Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with his wife, he had an epiphany. Knowing that his career was coming to an end, he had the idea to beat the Appalachian Trail speed record.

His plan? To cover the entire 2,189 miles while climbing and descending over the course of about 6 weeks. His wife asked why.
"Because I'm stuck. Because I'm forty and I need to feel what it's like to go to the edge again, and then go farther. Because I'm so thankful for everything I have, and for just a little while I need to remember what it feels like to have none of it." ~Scott Jurek
In 2015, Scott Jurek broke the AT speed record in 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail is the story of his journey.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: Running is My Therapy

I received a copy of Running is My Therapy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

It's no secret to regular readers of my blog that one of the reasons I run is to control my ever-present anxiety and mild depression. It's not easy being type A++ and after self-medicating through my 20s with alcohol, I knew I had to find a better way to cope. You've probably heard this same story from many other runners, but I kind of fell into running. I was working out at a gym that had an indoor track, and I started running on it. I didn't seek out running as a way to manage my stress but as it turns out, running was the best therapy I could have found. Not only did running provide me with an outlet to release all that negative energy, but through running, I developed self-confidence and self-efficacy. Life doesn't get easier and running is the tool I need to navigate all the ups and downs.



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.



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.