Atkinson is a fat British man who was encouraged by a friend to go for a run, and ultimately ended up running ultras and a Quadzilla (four marathons in four days) en route to joining the 100 Marathon Club. That’s not to say this is a book just for those who want to go extremes, I’d say it’s more applicable to the everyday runner than Dean Karnazes’ books. He started where many runners do, running after dark in his neighborhood and gradually increasing his distance. He also balanced his running journey with his family life: his wife crewed for him in his 100M run and occasionally he had to check the finances before signing up. I feel like the latter is something that doesn’t often come up in running books. It’s as if there’s a race fee fairy that pays them.
Atkinson shares race and training recaps, as well as specific tips applicable to the race he ran. I like how he established traditions such as the Milton Keynes Marathon which he made the effort to return to each year as a measure of tracking his own growth. I also like that he makes no claim that he’s perfect – he still enjoys McDonalds and bacon & egg sandwiches as breakfast. A word of advice, don’t read the chapters on ultrarunning if you’re hungry, the aid stations will make you hungrier. I felt for his chafing on one of his ultras. He still occasionally forgets his race bib in the hotel room and struggles with pacing-there’s no magic in this story. He also acknowledges that not every race is perfectly organized. Running isn’t perfect and he doesn’t paint it out to be.
Although parkrun hasn’t yet expanded to NYC, I love his tips and information about it as well as other races I will probably never run. The advice is applicable to many other runs. I think I finally understand the role of tail running, though I had to chuckle at the image when he runs to a parkrun, is late and comes up from behind said tail runner probably catching him or her by surprise. One thing to note, I was slightly confused at the timing on some, so make sure to pay attention to the dates/marathon numbers in the chapter heads.
I think there is a lot in this book for both beginners and experienced runners, and many runners will see a bit of themselves in the author. Excited to share this book I enjoyed with you, enter to win a signed copy. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, January 13.