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The Runner Beans Book Club: Your Pace or Mine Book Review

Jan 15, 2017 | Lifestyle, Reviews | 15 comments

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 Runner Beans Book Club - Your Pace or Mine Book Review

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.

Carbs and Kilometres Your Pace or Mine book review 

Paddle Pedal Pace – Lucy’s Your Pace or Mine book review 

The Running Princess Your Pace or Mine Book review

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?)


  1. San

    I wanted this book for Christmas, a friend came through and gifted it to me and I read it in two days! I loved this book! I loved that Lisa is NOT an elite runner, I loved her perspective on the sport of running and on the community (which really is so fantastic!). I haven’t written a full review yet, but I share many of the thoughts you shared here.

  2. Alana

    Love your review. I agree with your thoughts – it’s a supremely easy read (almost too easy at the beginning for me – took a bit of time to get into the chatty tone of it) but ultimately makes you think about why you run and all the joys that don’t include chasing a time! I am seriously considering fancy dress for a race soon!

    I’ve blogged about it (raced through the book on holiday) – link in my name.

  3. Alana

    Love your review. I really agree with you that it’s a supremely easy read (almost too easy – it took me a while to get into the chatty tone at the beginning). What it did make me think about were all the joys of running, that don’t include chasing a time. I’m even seriously considering fancy dress for my next race!

    I’ve reviewed it too – link in my name below.

  4. Will (justwillc)

    Morning Charlie

    You may/may not remember I posted the runner beans sign in the Summer. It always makes Mrs C and I smile and look forward to running when we get home.

    Saw this in your IG post jus now. Mrs C only started running a couple of years ago. She couldn’t run a tap before that but now she embraces in a way neither of us imagined she would. Now with a few ‘halfs’ under her belt, she’s just trying to wait for the last cog to drop before signing up for a marathon. She’s still not sure what that means, but knows she is close. I really hope this book goes someway towards that. Not just for her but she has been an absolute inspiration for me and at 50 she got me running too.

    Anyway, (other than ordering the book)… we wanted you to know that each New Year we go through our memory box. It’s a collective of all the things we’ve experienced over the year, each year we have been together. And on NYE, we make a cosmic list of all those that have made a difference to us, and others, in a positive way and toast them.

    You were on that list.

    Thank you.

    Good thoughts and blessings winging their way

    Will & Trudie x

  5. poorepurr

    I ran my first marathon with Lisa when she was doing her 100th. I’d “met” her online when I provided some info for an article she was writing. I would never have run that marathon without her encouragement. In person she is exactly like she is on the page. She had planned to take around 8 hours for her 100th marathon as she wanted “the party to last as long as possible” and she hardly stopped talking all the way round. Lots of the people in the book turned up to run a lap or two (or the whole thing) with her which is a tribute to the way she encourages everyone to be their best. I’ve read lots of running books and for an older, slow runner who just aims to finish inside the cut-off time, it was a joy to read one about an ordinary runner rather than the usual list of times achieved and races won.

    • charlotte

      So pleased you enjoyed it – how awesome to have met Lisa! Would love to party the whole way through a marathon!

  6. Julia

    I loved Lisa’s book! She managed to put into words that amazing feeling that you get from participating in a race, and the fun that running should be all about. I agree with your comment that there were a few too many stories from other runners, but at the same time some of those stories made me laugh and cry just as much as Lisa’s own did. In particular, I loved the comment from her uncle Ian about the effort that goes into being a support crew – I’ve made my own cheer team go through many similar experiences!
    I wrote a quick review on my own blog, link is

    • charlotte

      You’re right I did enjoy a lot of other people’s stories and it made me realise just how awesome the running community is! So glad you enjoyed the book! Our cheer teams put up with a lot, don’t they!

      Have included the link to your review – so impressed with the way your blog formats the link, very snazzy! x

  7. Mhari

    I am only half way through as life and wedding planning have got in the way. Totally agree with your review including the controversial comment – I need to read in whole chapters and having to get through all the little stories when I thought I was done took away from the enjoyment of Lisa’s story! Hopefully I will get it finished this week. Has definitely given me back my motivation to run!

    • charliedwatson

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one! I felt a little bit mean writing it. So glad you’ve got some motivation back to run and hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

  8. Jill @ RunEatSnap

    ‘We should not let anticipated failures and imagined disasters stand in the way of chasing our dreams.’ I love that quote! I started the book but haven’t finished. I started skipping over the parts with other runners’ stories. I enjoy some of them but prefer her stories more. I cannot believe her determination and how she continues to run marathons even after some really painful and terrible experiences. I have run only one full marathon and it went surprisingly well – if it had been absolutely miserable I would never even consider doing another!

  9. Cathryn

    I have such mixed feelings on this book. There was a lot I liked – it would be hard NOT to like it but I found it patchy. It started fluffily, then got emotional and I found myself crying a lot and then it got a bit tiresome and drawn out. I feel like it needed a better editor, to be honest. Something more concise (without as many real life stories) would have been much better.

    It was delightfully British though…I’ve missed some of the language she used.

    It was a fun, easy read but it didn’t inspire me to run, like Alexandra Heminsley’s ‘Run Like A Girl’ did. Looking forward to the Jo Pavey book though!

  10. wheresbernadette

    A little late to the party but I got there in the end!

    January has been a pretty turbulent month for me and reading this book alongside has really helped me to keep lacing up and get outside. Until recently my proudest moment in running was completing my first half marathon at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Since suddenly loosing my Dad at the beginning of January, my proudest moment is simply completing my first training run after everything. It was filled with many hills, physically and mentally!

    I have written a few words about how reading this book has help remind me why I love running so much on my blog

    Now time to get started on the next book! 🙂

    Thank you for organising this book club Charlie!


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