One of the oldest books on my TBR and I’d sort of skipped over it a bit because I thought it looked a bit dense and maybe even worthy. But then I wanted to get the TBR moving a little bit, so I thought I’d give it a try. A bit like not really wanting to go out for a run but going for a mile. And I was proved wrong! The text was a bit small, though, so I was glad when I started wearing my new glasses. And it’s not on this picture as I started reading it in April – doh!

Thor Gotaas – “Running: A Global History”

(03 September 2018 – charity shop)

An excellent book, although originally published in 2008, so misses out a lot of recent running developments and history. But it’s so strong on the history of running and the global approach is so thorough that that doesn’t really matter: there have been plenty of running books published since then that cover the more up to date history. Because it’s written by a Finn, it really does take a world view of running, teaching us about the development of the first job, then sport, then pastime from ancient times to the quest for the ultimate speed, via runners in Mexico and Japan, coaches in China and Kenya, looking at sportsmen and a good number of women whenever he can find them. With more modern women, there’s a photo of Paula Radcliffe but not much about her, but almost a whole chapter on Greta Waitz which gave me much more information on her than I knew before, and a great section on ground-breaking female Algerian runner Hassiba Boulmerka.

I loved his descriptions of what people ate (hard-boiled eggs go wayyyy back) and their training regimes through history. There is, to be fair, quite a lot on Finnish runners and their famous sisu (strength of will) but they certainly don’t dominate. It’s interesting that the chapter on ultramarathons, which I think we tend to think of as quite a modern phenomenon, concentrates on the Japanese ekiden races and the South African Comrades Marathon, which both stretch back into the earlier 20th century. And I did love reading the philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s comments on watching the New York Marathon.

There are references, a bibliography and some slightly oddly placed photos – a great read, it turned out!