image courtesy martindugard.com
My mother-in-law passed on to me a book of essays called To Be a Runner by Martin Dugard. When I started reading it, I didn’t realize it was going to be essays (the blurb in the dust cover did not indicate that it was) and I wish I’d known, simply because I like to have an idea what to expect. So now you know.
However, the fact that these are essays did not diminish the enjoyability of the reading. The essays are tied together by several threads — the general experience of running, the specific experiences of the author and the cross country team he coaches, and themes such as Dugard’s personal motto (Keep pushing… always) and the idea of being the best possible version of yourself.
Runners would be the most likely individuals to appreciate this book, not only because it’s about running, but because Dugard drops names and terms like Prefontaine, The Penguin, VO2 max, and splits. However, he also writes about running with the bulls, his miserable experience in an aerobics class, a personal trainer who owns what his clients call “The House of Pain”, and an adventure race that “combines the absurd best of Monty Python with the punishing numbness of Navy SEAL training.” Dugard talks about the times when he quit running and got fat, and what it took to get moving again. The overarching idea for Dugard is to do one’s best and reach for the stars.
Inspirational, funny, and encouraging, this book of essays is worth the read. And it might just make you push through and run that last half mile when you feel like walking.