Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: No Need for Speed by John "The Penguin" Bingham

I'll admit it was the title that drew me to this book, because let's face it, I'm never going to be fast. Not by professional running standards, anyway. And I honestly have no desire to be. I've never been a very competitive person and all of my running challenges have to do with pushing myself to do something I've never done before, not measuring myself against someone else's best. I don't know that I'll ever feel the desire to run anything more than a 10K, race-wise, and I'm perfectly content to line up and remain at the back of the pack, just as long as I finish.

Fortunately, this book was just perfect for someone at my stage in the running game. Bingham talks a lot about the motivation to run and how runners are "born", but the emphasis is on just putting one foot in front of the other and doing it rather than turning yourself into some sort of speed/distance demon. The tone of the book is very encouraging throughout, and Bingham really makes you feel like you can do this! I also love his assertion that if you run, you are a runner. Even if you're more round than oblong, even if people leisurely walking their dogs are lapping you as you huff around the block, even if you finish consistently in last place at every race you run, the fact that you are running at all means you are a "real" runner. No need for speed!

The book is divided into four sections entitled "Inspiration", "Perspiration", "Dedication" and "Celebration" with a special bonus section of Bingham's most popular columns from Runner's World magazine. The "Inspiration" section, as you can probably imagine, deals with getting started. In this section Bingham deals not only with motivation and exorcising the demons that keep you from getting started, but also with practical information on how to outfit yourself to begin running -- buying the right shoes, etc. "Perspiration" talks about the nuts and bolts of running, from nutrition to injury prevention. "Dedication" deals with goal setting, staying motivated during training, and how to cross-train. And finally, "Celebration" is all about the joy of running, whether you're just huffing along on the treadmill a few times a week or racing your heart out in a marathon.

I really loved this book. I feel like I already had the motivation to get started and keep going where running was concerned, but it's hard not to get discouraged when I suffer setbacks (like my most recent bout with illness) and this book has been a great source of reminders that as long as I'm putting one foot in front of the other, I'm still in it. The practical tips are great, too, and they are presented in a very no-pressure sort of way. I highly recommend this book for anyone who's just getting started with running, even if you've only thought about it but haven't actually taken the plunge yet (maybe especially if you're at that stage). If you're feeling too slow, too fat, too achy, too old or in any way discouraged about running, this book will give you a real boost!

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