Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Run Strong, Stay Hungry

Heading to Kidlitcon tomorrow morning. Friday at 3:00 p.m., I will be moderating a panel of six sports writers on the topic of "Go Sports! Do the Thing! Win the Points! Sports Books for the Unathletic." I will be joined by Phil Bildner, Davd A. Kelley, Sue Macy, Ecubeth Odhiambo, Rich Wallace, and Sandra Neill Wallace. It should be a very interesting discussion about why teachers and librarians need to know about sports books in order to recommend them to students, even if they don't enjoy reading the books themselves!

33510059Beverly, Jonathan. Run Strong, Stay Hungry: 9 Keys to Staying in the Race
November 1st 2017 by VeloPress
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

This anecdotal book, based on hundreds of interviews with key names in distance running, is fascinating in its attempt to distill and delineate what keeps people running from their high school careers well into their senior years. The anecdotes are arranged according to the nine key components: Consistency, variety, training by feel, humility and hunger, adaptability, students of the sport, staying connected, hope and love and the plethora of examples and stories definitely reinforce each concept.

Some of the topics makes sense: consistency absolutely makes better runners. Some are a surprise: many runners who have maintained their skills into their 60s and beyond claim that they are "not good runners". The motivating factor that these athletes have is that there is always someone better than you are, so it's essential to continue to work hard.

Once I get a print copy of this (I was reading an e arc, so the formatting wasn't great), I can see a lot of sticky notes being affixed to applicable pages so that I can share the philosophies with my cross country team. Coaches will definitely benefit from reading this work; I could see several of my former runners in the pages, and wanted to give them copies of the book and say "This chapter! This is what's going wrong with your training! Read this!" I also appreciated the mentions that many runners who keep at it after they don't compete any more do so because they have a coach's voice stuck in their head. I don't think I would ever be that voice, but it's a great thought!

Younger runners should look at this so that they can have a road map for different ways their running lives might go. Older readers will extract a lot of useful knowledge about ways to cope with the changes of age and the challenges of injuries. Other runners will enjoy the sheer volume of names that are dropped, and take a lot of motivation from the inspiring quotes of the elite runners interviewed.

The only negative about this book is that it does focus on elite runners, people for whom a sadly light week of running is 30 miles. As someone who is in the age group where sad things are happening to my running routine, and for whom for most of my life a 20 mile week was spectacular, I just wish that someone had handed this book to me when I was 12 and had said "You can do this."

A fantastic purchase for gift giving, a good purchase for high school libraries, and an optional purchase for middle school collections in schools where there is a strong culture of running.

Personal Blather:

This is literally the ONLY picture ever taken of me looking athletic.

Here is the story of my entire running life. Feel free to leave!

I started running in the spring of 1978. I wore Keds, ran around the block, and every time I did it, my mother told me I was nuts. The following year, I wanted to be on the track team, but I was wearing a back brace for scoliosis and my mother wouldn't let me, but the very kind coaches let me serve as the track first aid person and travel with the team. My high school didn't have a girls' cross country team until 1982, and I would never have thought of joining it. After I started working in 1981, I used part of my first pay check to by a pair of Reebok running shoes. I took these to college, where I ran around the track, and to Athens, Greece, where I got to run around Lycavettos hill. I did more walking than running in my 20s, but took it up again (with the same shoes, sadly) after my daughter was born in 1993, but running with small children doesn't rack up the miles. It wasn't until I turned 40 and my daughter was 12 that I started running in earnest. I had a good eight years of 15-20 mile weeks, ran in some 5k races and finished in the middle of my age group with times around 35 minutes.

Then, two years ago, I strained my Achilles. Then, I had foot surgery. Then, I had two stress fractures, the last one being in March. I spend a lot of time over the summer doing physical therapy, water walking, biking, and trying to keep in shape without running. I hope to begin again in March.

Both of my daughters ran middle school cross country, and I started helping out the team when my youngest started in 2010. Both of my girls still run from time to time, which makes me ever so happy.

Am I a runner? I desperately wish I were. Not to win races, but to be the sort of person who runs. The most inspirational story I have ever read is that of runner Joy Johnson. She didn't start running until her mid fifties, which gives me a lot of hope that once my foot FINALLY heals, I can get back to my attempts at running and to try to follow her example.


  1. Have fun at Kidliticon! And tell the teachers and librarians who say they don't like sports books (like I tell boys who say they don't like to read) is that they haven't found the right books yet. (Try the Legends books by Howard Bryant) I will definitely look up this running book. Our daughter could use it next year! Many thanks for letting me know about it.

  2. Yay! I am heading to KidLitCon on Friday! I am excited to meet you in person Ms. YingLing!!!!

  3. I hope you can get back to running soon. I had serious lung issues as a kid, so running has never been for me, but I'm hoping to somehow get my daughter into it. She's much more of an individual contributor than a team sport person, I think, but she doesn't get enough exercise... Running could be good!