Book Review: The Incomplete Book of Running

To all my friends: please get this book and read it immediately! Then, let’s chat. (Note to Holly: this would be a great pick for book club.)

Yes, I enjoyed this book that much! Author Peter Sagal is the host of NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” and he is funny! The title and cover are a spoof on a book from the 1970’s called “The Complete Book of Running”, now on my reading list. A commentary/memoir and light, entertaining read about all things life and sport, it is also filled with some nuggets of wisdom.

For example, Sagal mentions a study done by Ray Fair, a Yale professor that found on average, marathon times increase 1 minute per race for every year past age 40. Being so close to that milestone birthday myself, this caught my attention! Wait wait….don’t tell me my best running times are behind me??? But I have plans to become faster as a master! You’ll read about Sagal’s journey to do the same. To this, he says “time and age are not barriers.  They are fences, and fences are meant to be jumped.” Preach!

He also suggests that success in racing doesn’t have to be linked to misery. Good advice for Happy Runners!

You’ll read about Sagal’s struggle with his marriage, body dysmorphia, and sometimes running (see the chapter called “Sometimes Running Sucks”). There’s also nutrition tips and stories about banditing the Chicago Marathon and pacing blind runners in the Boston Marathon.

I love running (and all sports for that matter) because they represent many parallels to life. Sagal reiterates this throughout the book. “The lesson and practice of running is, again, a faith in the possibility of positive change. That in the end, if you run enough miles, with enough dedication and the right kind of mind-set . . . if you keep at it, if you keep going, you can become what it was you were meant to be.” Amen!


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