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Running Is A Gift

October 22, 2012
“On a run, you can find yourself.
In a run, you can lose yourself.
Either way, running is bliss.”
-P. Mark Taylor

There are shelves of books available about running. You can find autobiographies by elite runners detailing their quests for greatness. Then there are instructional books written by seasoned coaches on the best ways to train for certain distances. Still, there are others penned by writers who are also runners and have their own story to tell. Each category has a plethora of inspiration and sound advice. What is harder to find amidst this corpus of literature are books by the everyman or everywoman runner. Enter Dr. P. Mark Taylor and The Gift of Running: a book for runners & future runners.

I call Taylor an everyman runner as the greatest of compliments. I am an everyman runner as well, with no sneaker contracts, no race invitations, no television commercials, and no free gear (save some age-group victory swag). I am just a guy who loves to run and chase after his own goals and shadows. So is Taylor, and his book reflects that. In the most relatable and accessible way, the pages simply show a love for running and for sharing that love with others.

The Gift of Running starts out with a social media, crowd-sourced perspective on the sport. Taylor pulls together an eclectic mix of opinions and quotes from friends and Twitter followers about how running makes them feel. What results are laughs, nods of agreement, and a refreshed sense of the benefits of running. The subsequent tips for beginners are smart, unassuming, and can also offer reminders to experienced runners. Sections on speed and distance are a perfect reference companion for any training plan and provide insights into ways to optimize your training. Taylor echos a sentiment I always have had, that some runners thrive on 80 mile weeks while others are best at 40-50 mile weeks. There is no one way to improve because each person’s body and style is different. Listening to your body’s own cues is tantamount to following a rigid training schedule.

As the book goes further into the nitty-gritty of running, it maintains a tone that is easy to follow and understand. One excellent segment is the description of threshold pace and the “perfect race.” Taylor uses imagery that allows the reader to imagine his or her own past and future races with concrete suggestions for strategy. The technical information in the book is well-researched and helpful, but the heart of it all is the experience. When the marathon chapter starts in with the narrative of Taylor’s own racing history and his battles to improve his person best, we really see his passion and dedication. Porta-potties, sideways rain, and dehydration help to sprinkle the anecdotes with painful and triumphant experience.

What really makes this a great read is that it offers so much knowledge and wisdom without feeling pedantic. It is easy to read, and filled with quotes from some of the great runners of our time. There are training plans too if you are looking to prepare for a race, and advice on surfaces, stretching, and gear. The Gift of Running also has a terrific and most important elucidation on the benefits of running with a group and imparting this “gift” to others.

For full disclosure, Taylor, a Twitter friend, sent me a copy of this book to review and addressed it to “Steve the Awesome Runner.” Naturally, I was quickly hooked. But what I realized after reading the book was that this nickname was not just because he was trying to be goofy or did not know my last name. It was an expression of how he feels about running, runners, and those whom he wants to reach with this book. It is a smooth read, and easily referenced if you want to look up motivational tips, dietary pointers, or how to calculate carbohydrates needed for a marathon. Most importantly, the book is appropriate for any type of runner, to include all of those who don’t even know they are runners yet.

So as Taylor says, happy running!


Find the author on:

His blog (with links to buy the book): Wise Running

Twitter: @Wise_Running

Facebook: Wise Running

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8 comments

  1. Great writing (again, or still). Does Taylor acknowledge you in the book? What’s he do for a living, I don’t imagine he could live on receipts from a specialty book like this?


    • Thank you as always! We have only recently connected about the book, and I did the review post-publication, so no time to put any of my witty compliments on his back cover. But I think it looks just fine as is. And as for what he “does,” he is a runner. And that’s good enough for me!


  2. YOU should write a book. That is all. 🙂


    • Thank you kindly. Why write one myself if I can just enjoy other books by fellow runners who are awesome?! This is seriously a real nice read, an excellent work.


      • Because you are an amazing writer. Because you have the passion for running. Because running means so much to you. Because you should.


  3. What a wonderful review and as well written as the book itself! Always a pleasure to read your posts!! Do you know about how old he is?


    • Thank you kindly. I do not know his age, but that is only a number, as plenty of runners these days prove time and again. If you want to learn more about him though, I suggest his website: http://www.wiserunning.com


  4. I will have to check this out~ thanks for featuring it!!



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