Book review: Running Home

running homeI’ve spent the summer reading books about WWI, Russia, and WWII, and I needed a break from all the history. So, I borrowed a book from our running coach, Holly. Running Home by Katie Arnold is a quick read. It’s a serious memoir, and I’ve decided that the only thing I have in common with Katie is our love for outdoors. She’s takes that love to another level as an ultra-runner. She likes long distances, slow runs, and hills. I don’t care for any of those, but I enjoy reading about those who do!

Katie’s most recent accomplishment was winning the Leadville 100. She over took Addie Bracy around mile 62 and never looked back. Not only did she handedly win and come in under 20 hours (19:53), but she did it after a lengthy recovery from a white water rafting accident where she broke her leg.

Katie started running to work through the grief following her father’s  kidney cancer diagnosis, quick decline, and eventual death several months later. She spends about 14 chapters discussing her grief, anxiety stemming from the grief, and all her feelings of not having her father close by growing up (her parents divorced before Katie was 4). She uncovered LOT of emotions, and while running is an amazing outlet, I remain unconvinced Katie’s attempts at trying to find closure were the healthiest.

By chapter 15 she FINALLY starts describing more of her runs, training, and signing up for ultra runs. She lives in Santa Fe, NM, 7,000 ft above sea level which turns out to be the sweet spot for training. She has enough elevation to boost her red blood cells and access to plenty of mountain trails. She talks about juggling her time spent on runs verses time at home with her husband and two young daughters– a struggle I think a lot of runners who run long distances feel.

Some of the more interesting parts of Katie’s training are that she doesn’t wear a watch, doesn’t follow a training plan, and doesn’t track mileage. She runs by time and how she’s feeling. She begins all cycles of training “low and slow” before she starts adding in more elevation and mileage. Even training for her 100 mile run, her first long run was a slow 8 miles. (For a fleeting moment, I thought, well, maybe a long distance run wouldn’t be so bad, and then I realized, I like to stop after about 90 minutes of running.)

Katie is optimistic that every body can be a runner – there isn’t a perfect size, perfect pace, perfect stride. For her, it’s always been one foot in front of the other and keep going –a message every runner needs to hear.

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