I woke up in a panic this morning, knowing that I had promised to publish my first Book Club Book Review today, Sunday 15th Jan. With four 30th parties this weekend, exams, uni deadlines, trips to Austria skiing and marathon training, time has crept up on me and this post lies unwritten, and in all honesty, the book unfinished.
So I’m speed reading the last chapter on the sofa with a cup of tea in my dressing gown while Tom sleeps off his hangover (and before I tell him to lace up his shoes for our 9 miler)!
A few hours later…
Is it cliched to say I laughed and cried my way through this book? Because it’s the truth.
The book is written by marathon and ultra runner Lisa Jackson, but unlike many running books, this one isn’t written by an elite, in fact it’s written by a self confessed, back of the pack runner.
Written in a chatty style, I feel like I too am running and chatting alongside Lisa as I read the book.
What I learned from Lisa;
- Running a marathon is not all about time. Lisa has run over 100 marathons, however very few of them have been focused on time. She doesn’t remember her finishing time, rather the experiences and the people she meets on the course. This book taught me that it’s important to remember that there’s more to the marathon experience than the time on the clock. I’d like to spend one 26.2 enjoying the race, and perhaps, like Lisa, helping someone else complete their own marathon dream.
‘The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other but to be with each other’
- Every runner has a story. This is Lisa’s, but she also includes snippets from the incredible runners she has met along the way, sharing their whys, along with some of their favourite running stories. It seems I’m not the only one who runs as a way to deal with grief.
‘running is the best grief counsellor there is. And each step can be a tribute to those we love and miss’
- Any running goal is achievable if you put your mind to it. Lisa had the goal of running the Comrades ultra marathon in honour of her Mum, and that race, known as the toughest ultra marathon (with a 12hour cut off for the 56.5 mile course).
‘Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true’
- Boston really is as special as I’ve built it up to be. Lisa ran it in 2015 and finished after the official cut off, but finish she did, despite the terrible weather that plagued the race that year. She appears to be on of the few people who didn’t even notice Heartbreak Hill!
- We have to over come our fear, and change our perception of failure in order to achieve our goals, and to become better runners. You have to embrace the risk that sometimes you may not succeed, but that failures are just a step along the journey to success.
‘We should not let anticipated failures and imagined disasters stand in the way of chasing our dreams.’
- It’s never too late. Lisa started running aged 31, changed her career in her thirties and retrained aged 40. We don’t have to have been runners to become runners, and all it takes is that first run, signing up to that first race.
‘It’s precisely because I’m the least likely runner you’ll ever meet that running gives me such a thrill’
This book is an easy read, and I loved it. Reading it in January when it’s dark, wet and cold this reaffirmed to me why I run, and reminded me of the joy of running, and the supportive nature of the running community. I don’t have the experiences that Lisa has during her marathons, but I do experience something similar from my little online running community.
Lisa introduced me to races that I hadn’t heard of, opened my eyes to other events, and added to my ‘must do’ list – notably Istanbul marathon, the 261 Women’s Marathon and the Jerusalem marathon. It also made me think about including some more small local races, trail races and UK marathons to my list.
Controversially, I thought there were a few too many real runners stories – I enjoyed Lisa’s story most and would have loved more chapters in the series ‘What running taught me about…’ But I loved Lisa’s notes of wisdom at the back of the book as well as space to write your own running records.
‘Vaseline everywhere. Chat-run/walk. Have fun. Chocolate when you need an energy boost. Graciously accept medal. Whoop (out loud). Sleep wearing medal. Repeat.’
I’d love to know what you thought of the book if you’ve read it (please do leave a blog link below and I’ll add to the post if you write your own review. Do you think this sounds like the kind of book you’d be interested in reading?
The Larns book review – seems like Alana and I had quite similar views on the book! And yes I agree a fancy dress run would be epic.
Lastly – Lisa asks in the book what your proudest running moment is. I’d love to know yours…
Mine is the final mile of the Paris marathon. I knew I had missed my sub 4 hour goal, everything hurt but instead of giving up and walking to the finish, I ran as hard as I could, crossing the finish line having given everything I could. That determination, that memory has stood in good stead during many training runs and marathon moments.
P.S The NEXT book club book is Jo Pavey’s This Mum Runs (would you rather have a 1 month or 6 week reading time?)