A Book Review – of sorts

I have not run since 23 December. This is due to a number of factors, one of them being that I am taking longer than I expected to recover from my heart attack.

I decided to read a few endurance running books to help keep me interested over the summer, and want to share my thoughts on “Running Crazy” by Helen Summer

The book is a series of interviews with members of the UK 100 marathon club, with a chapter for each runner interviewed.

Running 100 marathons in your lifetime! I found it hard to get my mind around it.

There are some amazing stories in the book, from some truly impressive and inspirational runners. From the bloke who didn’t start running until after he had a heart attack , to the young woman who ran 100 marathons before she turned 30, the achievements are staggering.

Because the interviews all followed a similar template, the stories do get a bit repetitive. There are only so many answers to “why did you start running?” and “Does your partner run?”. And I personally found the author’s propensity to make each interview about herself (“I couldn’t run to the end of the street”, “I would rather stay in bed”, “I like to eat ….”) a bit irritating.

But the runners themselves are fascinating – Oldest, youngest, slowest, fastest average times, shortest number of months, longest number of years are all there.

Along with the average runners who just decided to run a lot of marathons. Respect to all of them.

I first became aware of the concept of running 100 marathons (and recording/celebrating the achievement) before I ran my first ultra. At that time I thought it was incredible – not only the running, but the commitment. I thought I could probably do a marathon every 3 months, and at that rate it would take 25 years to clock up 100. I have trouble committing to the next 25 weeks. It was mind numbing. Then there are the logistics. I live in a provincial New Zealand town, with a 2 hour drive to the nearest marathon. The time and cost required to travel to 4 marathons a year would be significant. Multiply that by 25!

Having read “Running Crazy” I started to think about it from an ultra runner’s perspective. There are a few chapters in the book where admiration was expressed for people who managed the astonishing act of running marathons on consecutive weekends (referred to as “a back-to-back”). A few super humans had even done marathons on consecutive days!

This made me reflect that most ultra marathon training plans will recommend back-to back long runs – meaning Saturday and Sunday, not one long run on two consecutive weekends. When I was training for my 5×50 at 50, I would routinely run a hilly marathon distance on Saturday, followed by a similar run on Sunday. Then repeat the next weekend. I think I ran 5 marathon distance training runs in 6 weeks. With this as my frame of reference, the concept of running 100 marathons has shrunk to only a handful of years (apart from the logistical problem of there not actually being any marathons where I live).

Now that I am over the mental hurdle, I just have to recover from the heart attack. Watch this space…..

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