IMG_20160819_155248128_HDRTwo books on running this time – I’m playing catch-up with reviews as I managed to get a fair few finished while we were on our short break to Iceland (see previous post). I read the Jo Pavey book before we left – as she was in the Olympic 10,000 metres, I wanted to get it read before the Olympics started, and did get it in before the athletics. She’s such a hero of mine, in the Olympics in her 40s! The Murakami was a re-read – I remember it being very inspiring when I read it the first time, back in 2009 (I reviewed it here and said I would definitely re-read it, so that’s nice that I have, seven years later!), and so it was a no-brainer to take and read on the day before I ran my own marathon – and here I am, in the picture, clutching it sitting by a path I was going to run down the next day.

Oh, I promise this will be the last of running for a bit …

Jo Pavey – “This Mum Runs”

(25 July 2016)

I picked this up at the same time as “Your Pace or Mine”, as it was one of those “People who bought that bought this” books that I don’t usually fall for. But she was doing the Rio 10,000m, so it had to be done. It’s a lovely autobiography, which gets off to a good start when she actually has “with Sarah Edworthy” on the title page (I’m a bit sensitive on behalf of ghost-writers now I work with a few of them!) and it was fab thinking she was at her 5th Olympics as I was reading it.

The book opens with an excellent story mid-way through her career which involves her forgetting her club running vest and having to source it in a hurry to wear in a race. That’s something quite a lot of runners have done, and made it feel an intimate and down-to-earth read. I also particularly liked the fact that she said more than once what a privilege it is to be running in road races with the “masses” who are running for clubs and charities – one of the things I like is getting to run in the footsteps of the stars, and it’s lovely that at least a few of them think the same from the other side. She also mentions parkrun (free, 5k organised runs every Saturday morning in parks; I volunteer regularly at our local one) as a good thing to build up to when you start running, in a short section on the subject. Oh, and she thanks all the volunteers throughout athletics at the end of her acknowledgements, too! What a star indeed.

More grim and dark than even her battles through injury are the comments on the effect that others’ doping has had on her career. Written in 2015 after the doping scandals hit, this is the first book I’ve read that really addresses this issue, and it’s heart-breaking to hear of people being given better positions and even medals way after the event as people are re-tested, which is obviously not the same as receiving those positions and medals at the time. She does have hope for the future with this, which I hope is borne out.

Readable, well-written and inspiring. Although she does talk about being a mum and family life, it’s clear that it’s all part of her life, something she’s proud of, but not something she’s twee about.

Haruki Murakami – “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

(20 April 2009)

A re-read of this excellent book about long-distance running and writing. It’s personal, self-effacing and honest: he claims to have an unlikeable personality, being most keen on both running and writing alone, but is an engaging companion and fits well into the worlds of marathons and triathlons (I’d completely forgotten that he talks about tris and his struggles with biking and swimming as well). Much more of a memoir than a how-to, but he does get the feel of endurance running across brilliantly, and has the great mantras, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” and “I am a machine”, which can help in tricky situations. A good, worthwhile pre-marathon read.

When I’d finished these two, I was in the middle of reading a novel about an Amish community and had started Edith Wharton’s “The Reef” – watch this space for reviews of those as I try to catch up with myself before the end of the month. Neither of this books filled in any places in challenges, but I’m glad I read them both.