Footnotes – A Book Review

Well, well. What to say about this book…. I don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I’ll first just copy and paste the synopsis:

Footnotes – How Running Makes Us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid

Running is not just a sport. It reconnects us to our bodies and the places in which we live, breaking down our increasingly structured and demanding lives. It allows us to feel the world beneath our feet, lifts the spirit, lets our minds out to play, and helps us to slip away from the demands of the modern world.

When Vybarr Cregan-Reid set out to discover why running means so much to so many, he began a journey which would take him out to tread London’s cobbled streets, the boulevards of Paris, and down the crumbling alleyways of Ruskin’s Venice. Footnotes transports you to the deserted shorelines of Seattle, the giant redwood forests of California, and to the world’s most advanced running laboratories and research centers. Using debates in literature, philosophy, neuroscience, and biology, this book explores that simple human desire to run.

Liberating and inspiring, Footnotes reminds us why feeling the earth beneath our feet is a necessary and healing part of our lives.

Sounds interesting, huh? I think it was. I did read it. All of it. But I barely can recall what I read.

Okay, okay. It’s not a horrible book. There’s some good pieces in there….if you can find them or haven’t skimmed right over them. The description makes the book sound like a personal journey through running. I think that’s in there… somewhere.

On first impression, this book is dense. The chapters, and paragraphs within them, are long and overwhelming and upon opening it, I didn’t want to begin reading. Then, you start… There’s a TON of info in this book. I mean A LOT… studies, personal opinions, references to fictional literary works, and more.

I started off strong, trying to absorb all the info, but it was tiresome. The long bulky paragraphs feel like a textbook and the topics switch too quickly for me to follow. One minute we’re in the author’s personal story and then next we’re following the research of some scientist or a fictional character from a book the author studied.

Maybe the concept of the book was lost on me but I find that hard to believe because I’m a very science minded individual. Topics range from biomechanics, senses, mindset, to the treadmill and how to (literally) run wild and trespass to find a route.

My favorite chapter was the last one (and not just because it was almost over). It was about running and the creativity and freedom it can bring to one’s life. The author tells the story about their first marathon and how he accidentally finished it and about running through different countries and the social barriers to doing so.

Overall, I give the book a 2 out of 5. In my opinion, it seems to me like the author didn’t really know what they wanted to write about and just threw EVERYTHING they knew about running in to this book. The topics jump fast and I got lost. There’s just too much info to sift through. I found myself skimming a lot to find the personal stories rather than reading through the references.

A couple of quotes I did like:

“My running has become something much deeper than a habit or an exercise routine. Now it is part of who I am. It is a part of my personality. I am unsure which came first, or what came from what: am I more self-reliant because of my running, or am I running because I am more self-reliant? The same goes for resilience: I feel like it has taught me how to be in my own company, and continues in helping me to maintain perspective.”

“Running doesn’t have to exercise. it doesn’t have to done to make you ‘strong’ or ‘fit’. It doesn’t even need to be done as a sport – it can be done entirely for its own sake”

-Vybarr Cregan-Reid


Don’t believe me and the synopsis still interested you? Add it to your Goodreads list or buy it on Amazon:

Climbing Free – A Book Review

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book review and usually they are about running. Today, I have a climbing book for you!

I have been looking for some climbing inspiration, help with trying to overcome fear and get on some harder climbs. In addition, it’s hard to find fellow female climbers to look up to. They’re out there, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t found them (or the ones I do know have completely different schedules than me so I don’t get to climb with them).

Anyway, I was googling climbing books and I came across Lynn Hill’s book. I had heard of Lynn Hill and her amazing skill before (first to free climb the nose in Yosemite), but I didn’t know much else about her, so I decided to buy the book and see if I could find some inspiration. I brought it to read on my backpacking trip in the Tetons. With an attempt to climb the Grand, that seemed a great time to read it.

The book is fun to read and flows really well starting with her childhood life, how she started climbing, and goes through her climbing career. While, I’m jealous that she was naturally a good climber in the beginning, she did work really hard to improve her skills. She also goes into her accident (a bad fall) and how tough it was to come back from that as well as making a career out of climbing, something she is super passionate about.

My favorite chapter was about her success climbing the nose. I don’t want to give anything away, so read the book to see her journey, but after many attempts, she became the first person, a woman nonetheless, to free climb the nose in a day.

I do want to note that the only thing I didn’t like about the book is that it seems that she talks about someone that died in the sport of climbing, alpinism or mountaineering in every chapter.  She wasn’t there for any of them, but talks about friends and colleagues that were on other trips and expeditions and passed away. That really freaked me out and still has been on my mind.

While the book didn’t really give me the inspirational jump to get back out there or overcome my fears, it was a good read. It did give me hope that if you keep working at it, you can find a career doing what you love. If you’re a climber, I highly suggest this book!

Add this book to your Goodread’s “want to read” list!


 Check out the book online!

Book Review: “The Road to Sparta” by Dean Karnazes

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“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. If you want to talk to God, run an ultra.”

I am far from an ultra runner. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll never do one. Although, I’m a firm believer in “never say never” (thanks, Fievel! Did anyone get that? Anyone!??) but right now an ultra marathon sounds ridiculous. I have, however, always been a fan of Dean Karnazes. His story inspires me and the way he can run and push himself for hundreds of miles is beyond my comprehension. So, when I saw a new book on the front shelf of the library, I immediately picked it up and checked it out.

51g9zn4eiml-_sx324_bo1204203200_“The Road to Sparta” is the story of the 153-mile run from Athens to Sparta that inspired the marathon and saved democracy, as told―and experienced―by ultramarathoner and New York Times bestselling author Dean Karnazes.

“In 490 BCE, Pheidippides ran for 36 hours straight from Athens to Sparta to seek help in defending Athens from a Persian invasion in the Battle of Marathon. In doing so, he saved the development of Western civilization and inspired the birth of the marathon as we know it. Even now, some 2,500 years later, that run stands enduringly as one of greatest physical accomplishments in the history of mankind. 

Karnazes personally honors Pheidippides and his own Greek heritage by recreating this ancient journey in modern times. Karnazes even abstains from contemporary endurance nutrition like sports drinks and energy gels and only eats what was available in 490 BCE, such as figs, olives, and cured meats. Through vivid details and internal dialogs, The Road to Sparta offers a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of an extreme athlete during his most difficult and personal challenge to date. This story is sure to captivate and inspire―whether you run great distances or not at all.”


I absolutely loved this book!  I have read many of Dean’s books (all but one) and always enjoy his writing, but this was by far my favorite.

He combines his own personal journey, not only to discover his heritage but also his journey to running the Spartathlon, a 150+ mile race from Greece to Sparta. Mixed in with ancient Greek history of Pheidippides, and you’ve got a great read!

SPOILER ZONE AHEAD:
I learned a lot from reading this book. Things I had never really known before. I learned that Pheidippides’ journey of 26 miles was not even the half of what he did. Before the famous 26 miles, he had run 150 to Sparta and then again back to Greece! No wonder he collapsed and died upon delivering the great news of the Persian defeat!

Besides getting a history fix, I think what I liked the best about this book is that Dean doesn’t write about winning a race. Him doing the Spartathon isn’t about a race he has to win. It’s more about finding out where he (his family) came from and discovering what his ancestors might have gone through. He doesn’t end up winning. He pushes himself to the brink, the edge, of where his body can go to reach that finish line and says “I had set out to find Pheidippides, and in the process found myself.”
END SPOILERS

I highly recommend this book to people who love running and history. Fans of Dean Karnazes most definitely should pick up this book. It’s an easy, quick read that will satisfy any runner’s curiosity of the guy that forever changed the world of running (both Pheidippides and Karnazes).

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My Cat liked it too.


Find it on Goodreads.

Pick up a copy yourself (affiliate link):

“To Be a Runner” – Book Review

PhotoGrid_1470008936201Are you looking for inspiration? How about a unique view about why we run? Or, are you looking for a fantastic reflection on your passion? Look no further! Martin Dugard has you covered!

“To Be a Runner” is amazing. Truly. By far one of my favorite running books. Actually by far one of my favorite books. Period. Written by Martin Dugard who writes professionally for Runner’s World, Sport Illustrated and Esquire as well as true-life novels. He also coaches cross-country and has a lifetime of his own running experience.

I had apparently read this book before, not remembering that fact until I was deep into the familiar words. I found quotes and bookmarks previously highlighted from my first read through and adding more as I read along. I don’t read many books more than once, and even after a second time, I’ll most likely read this again… and probably again….

What’s great about this book is there is a chapter, page or quote that will apply to every type of runner, at any given point in their running life. Reading it a second time, I am finding the previous quotes I highlighted don’t apply and I’m adding new underlines in places that I can relate to now. I’m willing to bet, on my next read through, I’ll highlight even more quotes, a different part of the book speaking to me.

Martin J. Dugard - AuthorI’m guessing the first time I read this book was before I was a cross-country coach. Now, reading through Dugald’s coaching experiences, I am finding excellent sources of  encouragement I intend to pull out and use with my kiddos like, “excuses limit us and prevent us from being the best possible versions of ourselves.

I’m also finding words to describe my love of trail running: “On those trails, nagging riddles and problems have a way of uncomplicating themselves, revealing to me in step-by-step detail how they might be resolved.”

As I read on, I find myself completely lost in this book…. smiling, crying, laughing, shaking my head in agreement. I find myself wishing I too could write like this to describe my life and love of running.

10814907One of my favorites quotes comes from the chapter “Run Date” where the author tells about how he and his wife catch up and get away together on runs: “The loneliness of the long-distance runner in overrated. Like all the best things in life, a great run becomes even more wondrous when shared with someone you love.” This quote is a perfect representation of my boyfriend and I.

I don’t remember quite what I got out this book the first time, but this time, I get the feeling that I’m not quite sure what I want from running. I fell like I’m missing something that the author has. I feel lost, but I want to find it again, that passion, so that I can write like this as well. I get the urge to get outside and find it, right now!

I will leave you with one last quote; this quote being pretty close to how I’ve been viewing the current running world and why I feel like an outsider:

One of the great downfalls of the modern running movement is how anal and joyless some of its leading voices have made it. Think of me as that great voice in the wilderness that says it’s okay to have fun out there.

Throw the logbook away. Stop pausing you watch at stop lights. Go right when you meant to go left.

Wander.”