Never Wipe Your…

Robillard, Jason. Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel: a Trail Running, Ultramarathon, and Wilderness Survival Guide for Weird Folks. Barefoot Running Press, 2013.

This has got to be the strangest guide to running I have ever come across. Okay, to be fair it is chock full of useful information and thensome. Hey, you even learn the names of clouds…as in cirrostratus and stratocumulus. I kid you not. That’s the tame stuff. Azz wiping is even more informative. But. But! But, it’s all organized in a bizzarro way. Here’s an example: you are reading all about wilderness dangers (because nature can kill). Robillard is covering what to do in cases of ticks, snakes, even cougars. Then all of a sudden he jumps to information about foam rollers and stretching. Just when you think he’s moved on from the hazards of nature he returns to tripping on tree roots and the importance of learning to fall correctly. More safety information. The stick/roller information seems really out of place. Having said all that, one look at the table of contents and you know this isn’t your typical runners’ guide. I would say beginner runners shouldn’t attempt to use this book as a serious guide. Serious ultrarunners will know everything he’s talking about and I would say, the more experienced the runner, the funnier Robillard gets.

Can’t quote anything from the book, even for a review…mostly because I’m too lazy to seek permission. Pretend I inserted funny examples of why you should read this book here -> “—-“(p).

Reason: okay, I admit it. The title caught my attention.

Author fact: Robillard likens himself to Tucker Max. I would say Robillard is just as funny except his writing is more interesting.

Book trivia: Oodles of typos. Not sure what to make of that.

Mastering the Marathon

Fink, Don. Mastering the Marathon: Time-Efficient Training Secrets for the 40-plus Athlete. Guilford, CT: Lyons Press: 2010.

Reason read: the Toronto half marathon.

I picked up Mastering the Marathon because even though I am only running a half I thought the information couldn’t hurt. The unfortunate thing was I didn’t have time to use the “secrets”. The book is begins with the outline of “three magic bullets” and exactly how effective each “bullet” is to your training. The bullets are actually three different workouts designed to maximize your potential as a runner. They are as follows: marathon pacing sessions, long runs and higher-intensity repeats. I know what you are thinking – they sound like a variation of the three specific training runs you should already be doing to train for any distance. In other words, tempo, long and fartleks. The difference is Fink outlines training plans based on how fast you want to finish. The typical 16-week plans are broken down into finishing time and how much running you want to do throughout your training. Let’s say you want to finish 26.2 miles in 3-3.5 hours and you want your training to consist of only running. There’s a training plan for that. You want to finish in 3.5 – 4.5 hours and you want your training to consist of only running. There’s a plan for that. You want to finish in the same times outlined above but you want to do less running and add cross training – there’s a plan. Finally, you want to finish in the same times outlined above but you want to do the minumum bare-bones running. You guessed it, there’s a plan. A great deal is made about these training plans throughout the first part of the book. In chapters 1-4 Fink refers to them (in chapter 5) no less than a dozen times. By the time I got to chapter 5 I felt like I had reached Mecca.

But, Mastering the Marathon is not just about different training plans and the three magic bullets. Fink also includes success stories of runners who have improved their times with the help of his coaching. While they were a little repetitive (he predicts everyone will continue to get faster), I was more disappointed in the fact most of the stories were about seasoned runners than individuals who ran their first marathons after the age of 40. For every four stories about a seasoned runner there was only one about an over-40 new-to-marathons runner.

Racing Weight

Fitzgerald, Matt. Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance. Boulder, Colorado: Velo, 2009.

So. I may get a ration of crap from some people for reading this book. I will lay it all out there: I am 5’2″ (barely), weigh anywhere from 117 – 121lbs and have had a steady BMI of 22.1 since December 30th, 2013. I am average in every sense of the word. I am not a competitive runner so why the hell do I want to research racing weight? I can hear my loved ones right now, “you are fine the way you are!” I picked up this book because I was curious. Bottom line: curious. Then I was hooked on an idea. Hooked, as in Hook. Line. Sinker. What would happen if I tried to lose a few pounds of fat? What would happen if I became a little leaner? I am, after all, training for a 10k next month…

But. But! But, my little 10k is not what Fitzgerald had in mind, I’m sure. He was writing to endurance athletes with something a little bigger than a measly 10k on their minds. I get that. I was only curious about the types of foods these super people ate. People like Ryan Hall… Bottom line, this is a great book for those a little more serious minded than myself. I picked up a couple of great tips, but it didn’t become my bible.

Reason read: training.

Author fact: Matt has his own (very interesting) website here.

Book trivia: Fitzgerald covers more sports than just running.

Running for Mortals

Bingham, John and Jenny Hadfield. Running for Mortals: a Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life Through Running. New York: MJF Books, 2007.

If I could, I would read everything John Bingham has ever written on the subject of running. He is, without a doubt, my kind of runner. He writes with authority and humor, something that’s hard to do in this puffed up, I-Run-12-Marathons-A-Year world. He comes across as knowing his stuff but, but. But! decidedly humble about it all the while. We can connect and commiserate with his experiences. It is important to note that both John and Jenny assure the reader runner that it doesn’t matter how tall you are, how thin you are, or your previous experiences with exercise. Anyone can do it. That bears repeating: Anyone. Can Do. It. I am proof of that. To be called a runner, there is no membership. No secret password or secret handshake to get in. If you run then you are a runner. Plain and Simple. John and Jenny just help you become a better version of the runner you already are.

Reason read: the St. Patrick’s Day road race is looming and while I “trained” last year for it, I wanted to do more this year.

Author fact: John Bingham is lovingly referred to as “the penguin” because of his shape and the way he runs. He has embraced this nickname and makes the best of it.

Book trivia: there are no pictures of either John or Jenny in Running for Mortals (that I know of), but there are pictures of exercises (probably more important to the serious-minded reader).

March ’12 was…

March 2012 was huge for reading. I think that’s because some of the books took me a day or two to read. March was also the first month of training for Just ‘Cause. Whenever I talk about training to walk it sounds stupid. I mean really, who trains to put one foot in front of the other? I guess when you put those steps all together and come up with a total of sixty miles over the course of three days it all adds up. Anyway, training (such as it is) is going great. For the month of March I averaged six miles a day, every day. But, this blog is not about walking miles or not. It’s about books. Here’s the Lust list for March 2012:

  • A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o in honor of African Writers month
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston in honor of Zora
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder in honor of keeping on with the series
  • Up Country by Maxine Kumin (read in one afternoon) in honor of March being poetry month (April is the official one)
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte in honor of Literature month
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose in honor of March having a “Hug a G.I.” day
  • The Fixer by Bernard Malamud in honor of Malamud passing in March
  • Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien in honor of keeping on with the Lord of the Rings series. I will admit I didn’t finish this.
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler in honor of crime month
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather in honor of another classic (this was, by far, my favorite read of the month)
  • Lawless Roads by Graham Green in honor of April being the best time to go to Mexico (obviously I jumped ahead a little)

I started an audio book (as is my tradition with trying to train and read at the same time) but the book I chose, Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman was so scratched I couldn’t get beyond disc one. Bummer. Also, for the third time in a row I didn’t receive the Early Review book I was awarded from LibraryThing. So I didn’t end up reading anything for LibraryThing. I was awarded a fourth book…we’ll see if it actually shows up.

So. There it is. The big list of books. Aside from Band of Brothers and Two Towers every other book was really short and easy to buzz through. I doubt April will be so kind.

May 2011 is…


  • To Sir with Love by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite ~ in honor of National Teacher Day (May 3rd)
  • Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann ~ in honor of Brockmann’s birth month
  • A Child’s Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Gloeckner ~ in honor of graphic novel month
  • Antigone the play by Sophocles ~ in honor of May being the best time to visit Greece.
  • Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong ~ in honor Asian-American Heritage month
  • Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham ~ in honor of Memorial Day
  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery ~ in honor of Eeyore’s birth month (I’ll explain that connection within the review). I’m listening to this as a training book.
  • House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre ~ in honor of May 5th being Cinco de Mayo
  • City of Light ~ by Lauren Belfer ~ in honor of May being History Month

Lastly, for the Early Review program for LibraryThing – Art and Madness by Anne Roiphe.

I put so many books on my list because a) a few of them are really, really short so I know I can read I can read them in 1-2 days time and b) I don’t have plans to travel anywhere until May 20th so I should have more time to curl up with several good books, and c) AFTER the walk I have ten days of NOTHING to do. I am picturing myself on the back deck, a glass of wine in one hand and a good book in another.

Confession – Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham looked so good I started reading it on April 28th. Sue me.
May is also (finally) the Just ‘Cause walk. I am not confident I did everything to train (but then again, there is only so much walking one can do), and I know I didn’t fund raise as hard as I should/could have. I am $100 off from the amount I raised last year. I am guessing not asking aunts, uncles, cousins, (mother), grandparents….anyone from my mother’s side to donate played a big part. C’est la vie. Or, to quote mom, “whatever.”

And So It Begins…Again

Every once in a while an opportunity comes along that seems almost too perfect to pass up. They are the moments that grab you by all the attention you have; so much so that you can’t look away.

I was on Face trying to save face. Normally, as my sister can tell you, I fly under the radar on FB. If she catches me “on” she considers it just that…catching me. Then she chats. Most of the time I don’t mind. It’s early morning and no one will notice. But, as a rule I don’t spend more than a minute looking at my own face. I say a few things to other faces and I’m outta there. But, back to the other night. I allowed myself to be “caught” by four different people (none of them being my sister, go figure)…for almost two hours.
When I was finally let go I came away committed. And with that commitment came the profound understanding that not only was I back on the TrainingForSomethingBig bandwagon, but that I was actually happy about it. And what’s more – I was looking forward to every little thing about it.

So, here’s the deal. We are walking for Project Bread. 20 miles. May 3, 2009. You read that right. Walking. 20 miles. I have kisa on the brain when I think about running anything more than five. I see his stern face and his No.Remember.Your.Knee look. It’s a look of concern. It’s a look of caring. But, it’s also an I’ll Kick Your Azz look. He was the one who had to put up with me directly after The Fall.

Duly noted. So we walk.