This month, the Taking the Long Way Home Running Book Club is highlighting a funny memoir on a runner’s adventures and misadventures, Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana Ayers. Thanks to Wendy for hosting! Check out Wendy’s review here and her interview with the author here. which includes more of Dana’s humor and great perspective on running and other physical activity.
This book was a much more lighthearted take on running and everything associated with it than last month’s and I enjoyed every second of it. It was definitely what I needed in my life right now, especially with the Des Moines Half Marathon looming the week I read this. It reminded me that I run because I can, because it’s fun and there doesn’t have to be more to it than that.
The author, Dana Ayers, describes herself as a “back of the pack” “casual” runner. I have to confess, I question that “casual” descriptor a bit as she’s taken on things I would never imagine! Despite the long, multi-day runs and the crazy obstacle races she has taken on, Dana is definitely speaking my language about running in general. When she points out that she ended up on the dance team as a teenager rather than another sport because dance meant “you get a set of explicit movements to follow, and you’re not required to use logic,” I realized maybe that’s why I myself was so much more successful on the dance team than on the volleyball team. Similarly, when she points out that doing cross-training as part of a class in the gym actually forces her to WORK in a way she doesn’t when she’s the one in charge, I guiltily remember how liberal I can be with my definition of “cross-training” when I’m the only one looking.
Her sense of humor about herself and about running was a joy to read. Throughout the book, she’s also included a lot of tips for new runners that are surprisingly practical in the midst of the laughter.
Looking at my race photo from the Des Moines half marathon this weekend and the ridiculous grin on my face despite the fatigue and muscle pain made me think of her description of herself as a “goldfish poodle . . . I have no idea where I am, but I’m excited about it.” That goldfish brain is key in keeping us coming back for more over and over again!
As she points out in the concluding chapter, we learn a lot from doing something that we aren’t naturally inclined to do as “back of the pack” runners. We learn patience and relaxation and the importance of accepting failure – all crucial life lessons I’ve gotten from running as a very Type A personality.
All in all, if you’re looking for a short, light and fun weekend read about running with some surprisingly helpful tips for newbie runners, check this out. It would be a great gift for someone who is considering running but afraid because they think they aren’t fast enough or built like a runner or whatever other excuses we have in our heads. You never know if you’re going to be a runner until you actually try it and Dana does a good job showing that anyone can try.
I have vacation coming up next month and will definitely be looking for a new book to read along the way. Any suggestions?