Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Running Book Reviews

This week I’m turning my blog over to a couple of book reviews. I always intended on writing a review about Gabrielle’s book but delayed that when Athletics Weekly did one. Last week I was sent a pre-release copy of ‘You Know You Are A Runner’ with a request to review the book so I thought it would be a good idea to write both reviews at the same time. Both books are vastly different, ‘You Know You Are A Runner’ is a light hearted joke/cartoon type book with well drawn illustrations to emphasise those traits that only a runner, or someone who knows a runner well, would understand, whereas ‘British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s’ is a much more serious book, based around a series of interviews with former marathon greats.

Book One – You Know You Are a Runner – Richard McChesney

This is what I would call a comic style book, consisting of 40 cartoons, each one drawn to illustrate a particular amusing trait that distinguishes runners from normal people, and yes I recognised myself in some of the illustrations. This is the first in a series of books to be published, in the ‘You Know You Are A’ series, written by Richard McChesney, himself a runner, who used to compete for the Surrey based club, Stragglers, but is now based in New Zealand where he is the event director for the Lower Hutt Parkrun. Reading through the book made me chuckle, sometimes aloud, as each cartoon revealed something that I and many of my fellow runners will recognise about our own peculiarities, or those of other runners we know. The cartoons themselves are well drawn by Brighty (Steve Bright) and Brock (Robert Brocksmith) who are both UK based professional cartoonists.

The book is available exclusively on the Amazon network in both Kindle format and as a paperback (below is a link for each), and is, in my opinion, priced very reasonably. Further information can be found at 

I enjoyed reading it and I was amused as I paged through it. This is just the sort of book I would buy as a stocking filler for a friend who was either a runner or married to a runner.

Book Two - British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s – Gabrielle Collison

Before I review this book I have to declare an interest, Gabrielle is a friend from the days we both competed for Belgrave. That aside, my review of this book is written with the same honest approach as that of the previous book.

Gabrielle was a very successful runner at Belgrave Harriers, achieving a National Championship medal in the 3000m. During her MSc, in Sports Science, she wrote her dissertation on British Marathon runners, years later she was encouraged to convert this into a book, which is ‘British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s’.

Some of my friends managed to get hold of a copy before me and their comments were very enthusiastic. They found it hard to put the book down as their interest was peaked. So I was really looking forward to getting stuck into the book. However, the nature of my work meant I didn’t have a lot of time to get into the book, at first. The book is a series of interview questions carried out with various runners who were well known and respected within the sport, back in the 80’s. It asks them about how they got involved with running and, in particular, the marathon, how they trained for marathons and various other ancillary questions. The interviewees have been very honest and go into some depth at times, offering up pages of interesting information. The book also has a statistics section comparing achievements of marathon runners in the 80s with those of today. I found I would start to read a chapter, each athlete forms a chapter, but having to put the book down again before I finished that chapter. This was frustrating me so I put the book aside until I went on holiday. Then it came into it’s own, lying in the sunshine relaxed I was able to give the book my full attention and found the time just passed me by, like my friends before me I found it difficult to stop reading the book. To me some chapters were more interesting/revealing than others but this may have been down to how much I knew of the individual before I read his/her chapter, but all in all I found it a fascinating read.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and in fact I have gone back to re-read an occasional chapter, which is easy when you have it on a kindle. However, I know of all of the runners, they were at the level I aspired to be when I was just beginning, somebody just into running may not enjoy the book to the extent that I did, however, if they’re really into their running, the relevance of who the person is will be less important than finding out how they achieved the times they did. 
To get the book from Amazon go to:
British Marathon Running Legends of the 1980s

To find out more about Gabrielle, or the various books she has written, visit www.gabriellecollison.com

The book I am currently reading is a book about Bradley Wiggins, it was a Xmas present from Carole. It’s not a big book but it makes for an interesting read. I’m expecting a Chris Froome book this Xmas, I know how Carole’s mind works.

Written by Roger Alsop

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