June 20, 2012

Run! ain't all roses

It's taken me a while to write about Run! by Dean Karnazes because unfortunately it didn't inspire a ton of writing from me. Reading a great book is like watching the Olympics for me. Every four years during my childhood, I decided that I was definitely going to become a professional gymnast, and after reading an amazing book, I habitually decide that writing a book is one of my dreams. Here's a secret: it's not really my dream. My real dream is to churn out daily, semi-tolerable blog posts for the world to ignore. You, e-world, are making my dreams come true. So after a good read, I come here and type my heart out.

While the book as a whole wasn't a stunner, there were a few parts that stood out as somewhat funny, crazy, or inspirational, but first let me tell you why I didn't like it. Most of the stories he told seemed like you were eavesdropping on the middle of a promising conversation only to find out that you missed the first part of the story so now you don't quite get it. Maybe if I had read Ultramarathon Man, his first book, I would get it, but I think the main problem was that the writing was just OK. The ideas might have come across more vividly if he had a pro helping him document his stories.

It also felt like most of the time we were intentionally only being given the parts of the story that glorified the author. We heard tons of little excerpts from his runs that turned out poorly (i.e. made him look tough), but when he talked about his family it was all roses and sunshine. We're all part of a family in some way, so we know that no family is perfect. It ain't all roses. So to portray your family as so ideal is not only boring but comes across as insincere. That insincerity led me to question the sincerity of other relationships and exploits in the book.

The one story that really left me hanging was his attempt at a Guinness record on the Regis and Kelly show when he implied that the person who set the record before him in some way cheated. He was trying to run the farthest on a treadmill in 48 hours, but he missed the record by a good bit. I was hoping for that story to take us somewhere, but again, he made some broad strokes at a story and then left us hanging wondering about the details. Did the record holder cheat? Was it even physically possible for the other guy, an untrained athlete but a professional Guinness record setter, to run that far in that amount of time. I really wanted to hear the full story on that one.

So now on to some of the tidbits I liked from the book.

Here are some funny spots:




Here's some inspiration for when you feel like giving up:


I love this next idea that we wade through failure to grow.




Below was the single most poignant passage in the book for me.


I actually teared up when I read this. Not because I was thinking about running, but because I was thinking about life. When I am knee deep in half-broken toys and skid-marked underpants, I need a little reminder to just keep moving forward and not get bogged down by the day-to-day duties and the bigger disappointments that life inevitably brings. Just keep moving forward.

So even though I was overall not completely enthralled with Run!, there were several segments that I put in my inspiration arsenal. Thanks for that, Karno.

Have you read any Dean Karnazes books? 


If yes, what did you love or hate about it?


Have you run any ultras? No, but I've considered adding a local 50K to the schedule next year. Baby steps. A heck of a lot of baby steps.

20 comments:

  1. I really do enjoy all of Dean's books. If nothing else, I walk away with a "can do" feeling and remembering how much FUN it is to run!
    Yep on ultras. But a handful of 50Ks are as far as I've run. Considering a 50 miler for next year!

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    1. I should reverse and read Ultramarathon Man, but the title of Run! sounded more applicable to my current skill level. Can't wait to read about that 50 miler!

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  2. I'm of the school that if my Garmin reads anything more than 26.2 after a marathon I'm officially an ultra marathoner. :)
    Love the Churchill quote - need to use that one.

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  3. I've only read one of his books and I'm only half way through it. I got it as a gift and didn't think I'd be into it. I started it and really enjoyed it but then it kind of fizzled. Hopefully I'll get back to it soon, must be the same sort of thing you experienced with this book!

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    1. Even if books fade, I force myself to finish just in case there is a redeemable nugget in there.

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  4. I started his book "Ultramarathon Man" but I couldn't get past the self love... at the time I had not run any ultras and it seemed like we marathoners just didn't quite measure up to that of the great ultramarathon man. Even now, having run some ultras, I still think marathoning is my favorite and provides plenty of challenge so I wasn't crazy about his attitude about that.

    A book I REALLY loved, was Bart Yasso's "My Life on the Run." Talk about funny and real and inspiring. If you haven't already read that one, you might like it better.

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    1. I'll have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  5. I've read Ultramarathon Man and Run! I kind of liked both, but I guess I am goofy like that. I like reading about his experiences - things that I would never really be able to do. I mean, if nothing else, I think it's great that he was able to do what a lot of us would love to do but can't....he was able to leave a boring, crazy-making office job and just run. How many of us are going to be able to quit our day job and just follow our passion. Not many, but I am sure a lot of us would love to be able to. At least I would. That all being said, I did enjoy Ultramarathon Man more. To me that one seems like it came more from the heart. Run! felt more forced. Right now, I am reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek, and that is really good so far. Looking forward to reading further.

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    1. Yes, he is obviously an amazing runner! And living his dream, so you've got to respect that. I'll have to check out Eat & Run.

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  6. Thanks for reviewing it. I have been recommended to read it by ao many. I don't think I will! Id love to so an ultra.

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  7. I haven't read one of his books yet. I like the exerts that you took out. There were several good quotes in there that translate into many areas of life.

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  8. I have not run an ultra, or even a full mary, but I did volunteer at an ultra-the Javelina Jundred. I was blown away by the runners in the ultra, especially Hal Koerner. Every time he'd run in through base camp, I would just stop and stare because it was as if he was gliding and not running. He made it seem so effortless. A complete inspiration. I'm not sure I will ever be that kind of a runner but I'm completely inspired by people who can do that kind of running!!

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    1. When I watch runners like that, my feet immediately feel like lead weights compared to their feather legs. They are amazing to watch!

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  9. Thanks for the review of the book, I've never read any of his books, but have enjoyed his quotes etc on running. In my limited knowledge of Dean and the Ultra Running community, it seems like he is hated on by a lot of people. Something about him "selling out" and being one of the 1st to sign big corporate sponsorships. All good. I like the dude, and all he's accomplished in the sport.

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    1. It's weird because in most sports people celebrate sponsorships or at least don't look down on them. But I agree that it seems like part of the running community thinks he sold out.

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  10. Hope to complete a 50K on the 7th of next month... I'm kinda scared (the 7K feet of ascent is freaking me out a bit). Only goal is to make the cutoffs! If I could have found a flatter one locally I wouldn't have picked this one! So Cal ultras are generally brutal.

    I really haven't read any "running" books. Weird, right? I don't know, I want to but then, reading books would have to take precedence over other stuff like running or knitting. or cooking.

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    1. Wow, that just sounds completely insane! And I saw your knitting on etsy. I crochet a little bit, but I haven't been doing much the last six months. Need to get back at it. Your stuff is so adorable. Do you make up your own patterns?

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  11. I've read his books, and I love them. I think Run! was the first book of his that I read, I loved all of his stories, crazy, crazy runner life. I'd give Ultra Marathon Man a shot!

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    1. I think I'll definitely check it out. It was on the shelf when I checked out Run! at the library, but the title scared me.:)

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