By now you have probably read a few book reviews on Marshall Ulrich’s new book, Running on Empty about his record setting run across America. You may have even tried to win a copy. Good news: I am also giving away a copy of this book, but not before I let you know what I think about it!
Of course I was thrilled to receive this book to review. A free book? About running? Sign me up! I’ll admit, I was a little concerned about the comparisons made between Running on Empty and Born to Run. As I have admitted before, I could not exactly get through Born to Run.
I do not think Running on Empty is anything like Born to Run.
I loved it.
I don’t exactly understand ultra-runners. You know, the type that run for 24 hours straight or run races like Badwater, Leadville, Pike’s Peak, etc.
Kinda like Marshall. As I began the book, I thought that he sounded like a pretty normal guy. You can see yourself having a conversation with him about running or heading our for a jog with him like he’s a member of your local running club.
Only he does these ridiculously crazy things!
*Pikes Peak Quad (yes quad = 4 times!)
*Leadville Trail 100 and the Pikes Peak Marathon in one weekend.
*Run across Colorado
Just to name a few.
What confuses me most is why would someone ever want to do those things? What makes him say, “Today I am going to run across Colorado.” My favorite parts of the book are not when he describes his journey from San Francisco to New York, or how he did it, but rather when he discusses why he did the crazy things he did. What made the suffering worth it.
“Why do we go the distance? Is it a cult? An addiction? Some kind of penance? Do we have something to prove? What do we get out of it? The answers to these questions are nearly as individual as the runners themselves. Charlie Engle, for example, would say yes, it’s like an addiction- he traded cocaine and alcohol for competition. Ray Zahab would tell you that he started running for his health, dropped a pack-a-day smoking habit, and then got hooked by the personal discovery that comes from covering long distances in exotic lands, and finding opportunities to connect with and contribute to people from different cultures. As for me, sure, there’s an underlying compulsion: survivor’s guilt and a need to punish myself, to prove myself, to face down my own mortality to defy death. But my running is also a reflection of my upbringing, a work ethic, a personal challenge. My love of history gets interwoven too- the feats of other people in other times- coupled with the alluring possibility that I might be able to go farther faster, today (44).”
“I pushed through the pain by reminding myself that I wasn’t doing it only for me. My suffering had a purpose. Anyone who’s walked or run a few miles to benefit a cause knows how motivating this can be. Just when you start to feel as if you have nothing left to give, you remember how difficult someone else’s life is, and you can keep going. Perspective does wonders (24).”
I also enjoyed how he brought attention to the mystery of the allure running. For example in the quote above, someone may run to replace an addiction and someone else for their health. You may run because you enjoy it or you may run to punish yourself.
“It’s a compelling dichotomy: Running takes discipline and focus. What makes it tolerable, though, is letting the mind drift, checking out “real life,” where the legs keep moving as the world keeps turning, but the mind focuses elsewhere and notices, for example, the beauty of a bristlecone pine, bent and twisted by the wind (146).
Marshall is insightful, passionate, and real. I like to read books in which you get to know the author and find out why and how he fell in love with running and this book does not disappoint.
What I Learned
*Everyone has a unique reason for running.
*Pain is relative.
*Toenails are not necessary.
*Age is just a number.
*Anything is possible.
Final Message from Marshall:
“Being a runner doesn’t make you a sage. It can give you a personal philosophy, test you and take your measure, and even save your life. But it doesn’t make you a good person, or even a nice person. It doesn’t guarantee a great marriage or success in business. Those achievements spring from your own character and your own experiences (242)”
If you want to hear more from Marshall, check out these links!
Leave me a comment about why you want to win this book and/or about the craziest athletic venture you have ever attempted. Big or small! I am not adventurous. The “craziest” thing I have ever done is run 2 races in one weekend. Living on the edge, I tell you!
Additional EntriesLeave a separate comment for each please.
*Tweet about the giveaway (please include @blueeyedrunner in your tweet)
*Blog about it!
*Like me on facebook .
I will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!
**Edited to add: The publisher will ship to US and Canada.
*I was given a copy of the book in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own
*Quoted page numbers may be different in the final printed book.