I finished reading “50/50: Secrets I learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!” by Dean Karnazes a loooooong time ago but haven’t had a chance to write my review on it. I actually finished it quite fast but I thought it would take me a lot longer because I’m always reading about 5 books at once. Seriously. However, I put down “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (which I did end up finishing later as well – I love that it’s about Zombies, but it’s kind of a hard read, in case you wanted to know) because I got really into this book.
I highly recommend this book for running enthusiasts – especially those of you (and I know there’s a lot) that have similar goals as mine to run a race in every state. I chose to read it, of course, because I’m a huge Dean Karnazes (the ultra marathon man is super awesome! I really want to meet him some day; from what I’ve seen online and heard, he seems like a super nice guy and total mingles with the non-super athletes). Also because it is about the Endurance 50, which is the title of his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days challenge. The book follows him and his crew across the country on their bus and recounts each state and the challenges he met along the way. It’s about the people he meets. Intertwined between everything, it’s about running in general and offers inspirational quotes, quick tips and insightful info for the people lacing up their shoe laces for the first time, or for the people who have already run 50 marathons.
The book is broken down by 50 chapters, one for each marathon. When I first started reading, I was wondering how he actually did this because most races are on saturdays or sundays. He actually only had a few “Live” marathons (where he participated in the real event) and the rest were official recreations; usually only allowing about 50 additional people to run with him. He got city permits and recreated the official race course with official timing and official start and finish lines. In each city and every event, he would always hang out a bit and chat with fans at the expos before hopping on the bus to head toward the next city. Averaging only a few hours of sleep a night, he powered through 50 marathons in 50 days facing adverse weather, minimal injuries and going through a lot of socks!
It’s pretty inspirational to me because sometimes I get stuck in the thought of how I’m actually going to complete all the states. I know that I do not have a 50 day time limit, or even a year, but thinking about all the logistics of my goal gets daunting. Not to mention the actual physical fitness effort on my part – and I’m not even doing a race a day! Then I get lost in thought and start thinking about after it all – what do I do THEN! What if I live somewhere else? What if I don’t get all the states around Colorado before I move!? WHAT IF, WHAT IF…. OH MAN! Yes, this is how my brain works.
Some of my favorite parts of this book is the quick tips Dean offers. Something I never knew before was that eating Raw ginger can help with minor upset stomachs. Or how about, he offers advise on various topics including how to recover after a marathon (his advice starts with LOTS of water, a hearty meal, ice baths, sleep and yes, run the next day). I think my favorite piece of advice is “Aid Station Etiquette.” I feel like I am pretty decent at aid station etiquette, but a lot of people can learn a thing or too and listen when Dean says “try not to stop or slow down in the flow of runners…” This is one of my biggest pet peeves race day!!
The quote that stood out to me the most is in a chapter called “The Running Clinic.” He writes about the Boulder Backroads Marathon (honestly, just a coincidence that it’s the Colorado chapter). In this sections, he talks about how running is a participatory sport, it’s not for fans. Who likes WATCHING running anyway…not me. I only like watching the finish line. There’s a lot of emotion and spirit at a finish line. Here he answers questions on how he trains, what he eats, and how he actually DOES this! At the end of this chapter he writes, “we are all teachers and we are all students in this sport.” I love this line! It is so true! I learn something everyday about the sport of running, and I would like to hope or think that others have learned from me as well.
This book closes with fun facts about the Endurance 50 as well as training plans for completing a marathon for beginners and advanced runners. Overall, a good read for the running enthusiast! I highly recommend putting this on your summer reading list.