Friday, November 30, 2012

50/50 by Dean Karnazes: A review

I've just finished Dean Karnazes' book 50/50, about his epic 'fifty marathons in fifty days in fifty states' in 2006. I confess I actually hadn't heard of this feat until recently, and the book came out in 2008. Still, if you haven't already read it, I'd recommend it to runners of any level. Might even be a good Christmas present for a fellow runner if you're into that kind of thing!

Karnazes uses the structure of the event, the individual marathons, as the structure of his book, using each marathon to talk about different aspects of running, from basic tips on training for a marathon, to hydration, to how to set up a donation system, so you can collect money for your favorite charity by having friends give a dollar for every mile you fun. Along the way he shares some amusing and interesting and inspiring anecdotes from each marathon, and from his other running adventures.

He even talks about minimalist shoes and running, claiming some credit for Nike's Free minimalist shoe, though he himself wears North Face Boas, since North Face is his main sponsor, and the one's responsible for the amazing organization and logistics for the whole event. He doesn't quite commit to saying running barefoot is a good idea, though confesses that running barefoot on the beach is when he's felt the most natural. In any case, he recommends the 'mid-foot strike' running style, to avoid the dreaded heel-strike, and thinks that shoes do tend to make people try a longer gait.

I was surprised at how engaging the book was, fearing that with the marathon after marathon type narrative that it would end up sounding like 'and then I did this, and then I did this', but each of the marathons was unique, and his stories are so interesting, that my attention was held, and I even stayed up late reading it, wanting to find out what happens next! The guy's a monster runner, but makes it sound so easy.