By: Bob Schwartz
Suggested Retail: $15.95
Publisher: Human Kinetics
All of us take our sports and activities a little too seriously sometimes. A little reality slap in the face is a good thing — and, for running, author Bob Schwartz does just that with this book.
It’s 244 pages of short essays about all those things that runners (and actually other endurance athletes) know so well and have a love-hate relationship with — or maybe their spouses, families, and friends do too. Broken down into 10 parts by category, you’ll find jabs about water workouts, drinking on the run, treadmill workouts, the mindset of a runner including looney things they do and how their spouses put up with it, hydrating, carbo loading, injuries (what would a running book be without a section on the bane of any athlete and how they deal with it?), and, of course, competition.
Long story short, the book is a giggle — a much-needed poke in the gut for roadrunners who just get too serious sometimes. But it also dragged on a bit. Among the essays, there were bright spots, and there were ones where you wanted to turn the page and put him out of his misery since the topic seemed to be getting pumped to extreme and over-done.
In Chapter 10, called Introduction to Ingurgitation, about his first attempt at drinking on the run during a race, a silly plight that only those who have tried it — and failed at it — will find amusing: “I finally held a cup and proceeded to take an unintentional and quick shower with a punch-flavored sport drink. I quickly surmised that sometimes things are more diffcult than they seem. This was clearly apparent as I gazed into my paper cup and noted the solitary drop of drink that remained. It appeared to be mocking me, indicating, ‘Buddy, you just spilled the rest of me over your shorts and up your nose, and I’m all you got left for the next two miles. Don’t blow it.'”
In Chapter 1: “When we began running marathons, the concepts of lactate threshold training, VO2 max, and heart rate monitors weren’t even around. We were the naÃ¯ve souls of the pre-energy-gel era. The running relics. We proudly wore the battle scars earned from running the last 10 miles of the marathon in mind-altering glycogen depletion producing a lovely hallucinogenic state. That was a true runner’s high!”
Our bet: Many people when reading parts of this book would yawn and turn the page, hoping for a good belly laugh soon. Others — friends of ours, we fear — would drop on the floor in uncontrollable peals of laughter with bellies hurting from the guffaws. OK, so maybe we’re somewhere in between.
But that’s the heart of this book: If a devout runner or married to one perhaps, you will laugh and/or roll your eyes in understanding. And you may want to devour every word. If not, you’ll wonder what the big who-ha is about.
We think this book could have been better if it were shorter, but it doesn’t miss an angle in a runner’s blood, sweat and tears.