Sunday, January 06, 2013

Latest running reads

I did some serious reading over the Christmas Break, so I thought I'd say a word or two about the two running books I attacked.

First up is Meb Keflezighi's Run to Overcome, Meb's autobiography from the time he was born in Eritrea through his win at the NYC marathon in 2010. I wouldn't be wholly surprised to see a new edition soon with an update after he won the 2012 US Olympic Marathon trials and then had an amazing run to come fourth in the Olympic marathon (and was the only American man to finish...I have thoughts about that).

Anyway, I'm mostly surprised that it took me so long to get around to reading his book, since my two favorite topics for reading are definitely running and refugees. (Yes, I've got Lopez Lomong's book from the library now, too.) I don't think reading Meb's book is going to change any lives, nor is it literary powerhouse, but it does what it says on the tin. I learned a ton more about Meb and like him even more now, impressive given that I thought pretty highly of him already. I am always drawn to books about the experience of being a refugee resettled in the United States, so the early parts of the book were especially interesting to me and I think really put his journey into context. Finally, because I'm not a religious person and I reach my "God" tolerance rather quickly, I have to say that I thought Meb did a really good job with this particular aspect of his life. I absolutely respect his deep faith and how it has helped him on his journey; his discussions of religion were almost entirely personal and weren't too much for me at all.

I also read Neal Bascomb's The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It. (In a great coincidence, I had it out from the library, but was given a copy for Christmas, too!) Shockingly, it's the story of the four minute mile and the race between the UK's Roger Bannister, American Wes Santee, and Australian John Landy to be the first person under four minutes. I rather enjoyed this, as well. I particularly enjoyed reading about the different training methods that the three men were using, mostly because I'm simultaneously astonished and appalled at the results they got while training in ways that are SO different from what's now considered normal. But, man, were some of those training regimes impressive (and nutty). It's also the second book I've read fairly recently where the AAU was a villan (Marathon Woman being the first), so that was interesting. Finally, I feel like it gave me a little bit of insight into just how hard it can be to be an elite runner even today - finding good competition, having training facilities that are adequate, how much depends on the conditions, etc. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but I do enjoy my running books.

Up next are Lopez Lomong's book about going from being a Sudanese Lost Boy to running for the US in the Olympics and PRE, because I think I need to have a slightly better understanding of the obsession before running the Eugene Marathon. I'd like to read Bradley Wiggins' autobiography, but it isn't out in the US yet. Booooo. Are there any new books about women runners out? I think I need a break from all these men.