The Spirit Runner by Richard Ferguson

When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned. 

4/5 stars.
ebook, ARC, 255 pages.
Read from October 31, 2017 to November 2, 2017.

I love being able to support Indie authors and so when the author of this novel reached out to me to get some feedback on this currently unpublished novel I happily obliged. When it comes to reviewing books I can sometimes be a tough nut to crack. My average book rating on Goodreads is currently 3.37 out 5 so I do not give out praise easily.  However, when I do, it is well earned.

When we’re young, our parents are our heroes. Ron Campbell was no different, except that his father was an Olympic marathon runner. Ron desperately yearns to be an exceptional runner like his father and as his talent grows he is looking to head in that direction. Until a horrifying accident robs Ron not only of his parents but also his ability to run as the wreck has left his legs mangled and crippled. giphyThe doctors have told Ron that they do not expect that he will ever run again, let alone walk properly.  Thankfully Ron’s grandfather does not approve of the doctor’s negative attitude and he is sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle along with the support of an Aussie physical therapist aimed at getting Ron running again. However, Ron’s situation is far from ideal. He may be with family but he quickly learns that his Aunt and Uncle have little interest in his recovery and are more concerned with getting the plot of land that has recently been bequeathed to him from his grandfather. Coupled with the physical abuse from his Uncle, Ron is not off to a sympathetic start but with the continuous love of his friends,  grandfather, and even a friendly bull named Curly, Ron’s spirit is determined and unwavering. Ron aims for miracles in his quest to run again and to ensure that his Aunt and Uncle do not get what they want.

Being pleasantly surprised by this book is a bit of an understatement. I did not want to put this book down. When it comes to reviewing Indie writing you are never sure what the quality of the story or the writing is going to be like and I can honestly say the story is highly engaging, that the writing is solid and the editing is damn near perfect.  There is never a lull or dull moment in this story as the plot takes you on a continuous roller coaster ride. The story is the epitome of a feel-good novel, even if the outcome of the book is somewhat predictable, it does not take away from the enjoyability of the novel. Ron is an admirable little boy with realistic qualities and the other characters add such colour to the already enticing plot. Curly, the bull, is also one the best tidbits of the whole story as well.

This is the sort of novel I would consider purchasing for my running friends or for anyone that can appreciate a feel-good novel with likeable characters. While the book does not have a solid release date yet I will keep in touch with the author to get more information about when readers can access this book.

My Best Race by Chris Cooper

Include this book into your training. You will find no better motivation.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 239 pages.
Read from May 4, 2017 to May 9, 2017.

I love books like this; books that just make you feel good and validate your feelings, well in this case it’s feelings on running.  I was really eager to read it after getting a copy from Netgalley. However, I must have been on the cusp of the archive date of this book because I did not get a chance to read it. I was so wanted to read this book that I actually went out and bought a copy.  I have no regrets.

This is book holds about 50 unique recountings, from pros to amateurs, as they share the one race that they won’t ever forget. Some stories are ones of winning, medals and Olympic trials, while others are memorable regardless placement or perceived failures. There is even a love story for romance fans! From World Champions and Olympians, to the average avid runner, all the stories share the same passion for the sport. The stories also cover a variety of distances and generations giving a history of some very memorable moments in running. There are contributions from:

Kathrine Switzer – The first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967 despite women being barred from the race.

 

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Kathrine running the 1967 Boston Marathon. Her then boyfriend, now husband, is trying to stop the race official from physically removing her from the race.

 

John Galloway – a pioneer of the run/walk method, a top marathon runner,  member of the 1974 Olympic team in the 10,000m, coach and writer for Runner’s World. 

Pam Reed – 2002 Badwater Ultramarathon overall winner and the first woman to become the overall winner in the Badwater marathon, one of the toughest ultras in the world.

I wanted this book the last forever. This book motivated me through all my runs this week. Seriously, I think I am going to start including works like this into my training regime as it gets me so stoked to go out for a run and inspires me to perform better.  I know I could have definitely used this sort of boost in my last marathon!  The format of the book actually caters really well to this as each story is only a few pages making it easy to bookmark and return to specific passages or stories that spoke to you. After each story, the narrator provides a short piece of running advice as well, the best one that I took away from the book is one by Pam Reed who recommended using club soda on endurance runs to keep the stomach moving and receptive to food. I am seriously going to give this one a try.

The best thing about books like this is that it puts these amazingly talented pro-runners on the same pages as the joe-schmo runners and that is because at the root of it, whether fast or slow, we all love to run. If you are not a runner, the unique feeling that comes with running and the community it invites is not one that is easily explained.  I know my boyfriend sure doesn’t understand why I would want to run for such long stretches at a time or why I racing 42.2 is my idea of fun versus a form of punishment. While running does require a little bit insanity, the main concepts revolve around pushing yourself to your limits and the infinite rewards it brings. I swear to you, nothing is more satisfying and confidence building. Running also enables you to get outside to enjoy the little things, to take some time for yourself, and offers ample opportunities to meet like-minded people in one of best supporting communities around. Runner’s are a special bunch of people.

I would recommend this book to runners of all types. Add it to your training repertoire and return to it when you need a boost.

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

“Sometimes you just do things.” – probably the best line to live by. Whether it is athletics or the hardships of life, Scott Jurek takes us through the unconventional life of a ultra-marathon, super star runner.

Uncovering the life of a super human, ultra-marathon, vegan athlete. Yes, vegan.

4/5 stars
Hardcover, 272 pages.
Read from August 08 to 09, 2016.

“Sometimes you just do things.” – this line, from this novel has not left my brain since I read it. Not only has it popped up during some of my own difficult training runs but it has also helped me though some of the everyday realities of life. I could have said the everyday struggles of life, but that is putting a negative spin on the reality of life. Sometimes you just do things , and there isn’t any better truth than that.

Scott Jurek was an ordinary boy who grew into an extraordinary adult by committing to his beliefs and just doing what he believed he needed to do. Scott is one of the best ultra-marathoners in the world. Not only that, he is a vegan. Yes, it is true. This ultra-athlete contributes some of his success to his diet and shares with his readers that not only is veganism plausible for extreme athletes, but that it is also ideal. Yes, Scott has immense natural talent but the majority of his success come from his demeanor and attitude. This book is the story of Scott’s life, from the childhood that shaped him to his career as an ultra-marathoner.

Now I am not sure I have what it takes to be a vegan but Scott sure inspired me to push my limits. I have always wanted to run an ultra-distance race and this book solidified the belief that I could do one. It has also confirmed my own beliefs about eating real food for fuel. Every runner has to find what works best for them and I know for me, I can’t cope with the nasty tasting gels and some of the energy and protein bars that are provided to keep runners fueled during long distance runs. Now, I don’t know if I am ready to start hauling out my own hummus and pita breads on a run, but I will continue to make my own electrolyte drinks and will attempt to make some of my own fuel for my runs and races.

This isn’t just a book for runners though, as the book is full of outstanding, easy and realistic vegan recipes that anyone can use. Jurek ends every chapter with a delicious vegan recipe that is appealing to all types of eaters. That says a lot coming from me, as I do not cook. I snapped a few pictures of few recipes from this book, this is one of my favourites and I am looking forward to making it once the weather cools off:

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Minnesota Winter Chili

I devoured this book. I remember when I read Born to Runand just how much I loved it. Well, this book is infinitely better. For one, Jurek is a superior writer to McDougall and has a gift not only for running, but for writing. His story line is seamless and easy to follow, which is the biggest problem I had with McDougall’s book. Additionally, while you get all the details of Jurek’s personal life, he also gives you a detailed experience of his races and what goes through his head during these times. So if you want to be inspired and want to think like a world-class athlete, then read this book. Even if you are not a runner, you will appreciate the intensity, dedication and sheer willpower that Jurek exudes in his running as well as with his personal lifestyle choices.

Fortune favours the brave, and Jurek is one amazing example of this. If you have ever been curious about the vegan diet or how it works with athletes, become inspired, or just want to read an amazing story of human fortitude then this book is for you.