I’m always excited to check out a new running book and was happy when the publisher of Run the World: My 3,500-Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe sent me a copy of the book to review. Run the World is the kind of book that inspires and motivates the reader to want to be like the writer. In this case, the author Becky Wade is an elite athlete who qualified for the Olympic Trials in the marathon and 3,000 meter steeple-chase. After graduating from Rice University, she spent a year traveling to nine countries on the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study global running communities. Her book made me want to travel to new places, cook exotic dishes (recipes included in the book!) and push myself in my training, both to work hard and to try new methods of training.
It took me a little time to adjust to the descriptive style of the book, and I had to let go of trying to absorb all the information. The book is packed with trivia from the greats of running history along with the current running scene. It filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of the history of the sport. But in fact, the book will appeal especially to those already in the know – current collegiate athletes, elite or aspiring elite athletes, coaches, and true fans of the sport of running.
As a self-professed student of running (meaning someone who really enjoys reading about running and coaching myself through extensive study of running guides), one of the things I especially liked about the book is its in-depth look at different training methods from around the world. It was fascinating to contrast the rigid, high-mileage training of the Japanese athletes with the more flexible training of the Ethiopians. I also particularly enjoyed learning about the variety of foods that athletes consume around the world and the socialization that happens around different cultural food rituals and traditions. In a way was a relief to learn that competitive running success can come from such a great variety of cultures and training methods.
Most inspiring to me though was the account of Becky’s debut marathon at the California International Marathon in 2013 upon her return to the United States. I won’t give any spoilers other than to say that her performance led to her signing with Asics. I look forward to watching her further develop her running career and wish her the best of success with running and Run the World!