Monday, June 27, 2016

My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman

When TV news correspondent Tom Foreman's daughter suggested they run a marathon together, it didn't come completely out of the blue.  After all, he was a decent runner in his youth, and had run some marathons.  But now that he was on his second half-century, running a marathon was not on his current list of superpowers.  In My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, A Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan, Foreman tells the story of their training, their race, and his ongoing running and racing experiences.

Like any good running memoir, Foreman writes with contagion.  The reader can't help but be swept up in his renewed love of running and commitment to training.  Even though he had lots of natural speed and ability as a teenager and into his twenties, when he starts training for the marathon, he's way out of shape.  He hadn't run in years.  His rebirth as a runner is encouraging to those of us who have never been runners or have been avoiding the starting line and training routes for a long time.

Further, he writes about fitting in his training in a busy schedule.  Sure, he had to sacrifice time with his family and doing other activities as he mileage increased, but he managed to train for a marathon and then a 50-miler while not completely alienating his family and while working actively as a TV journalist.  His experience is a reminder that, even though it can get challenging, it's possible to fit your training in.

Trust me on this: Foreman's book is not as boring as my review.  I enjoyed his style and light-hearted comments.  Examples:

  • On the popularity of half marathons: "If you finish well, you can brag about it, and because the word marathon is in the race title, non-runners will take notice."
  • On staging ultramarathons "out in the woods": "First, it cuts down on road closures."  Second, the courses aren't as boring as road races. "And third, if you're going to do something this stupid, you don't want many witnesses." 
  • On an easier portion of the 50 mile race: "It was pleasant, in the same sense that even in prison some cells are better than others."

As I've said in many a review of running books, the best measure, to me, of a good one is whether it inspires me to put on my shoes and go run.  Foreman's book passes that test.  He's a regular guy running like a regular guy--I can relate to that.  And he reminds us that, no matter the time or skill level or experience of the runner, no matter what else has changed, "The formula for success never has: Step to the road, bend your knees, and run."

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