Title: Run the World: My 3,500 Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Fresh off a successful collegiate running career—with multiple NCAA All-American honors and two Olympic Trials qualifying marks to her name—Becky Wade was no stranger to international competition. But after years spent safely sticking to the training methods she knew, Becky was curious about how her counterparts in other countries approached the sport to which she’d dedicated over half of her life. So in 2012, as a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, she packed four pairs of running shoes, cleared her schedule for the year, and took off on a journey to infiltrate diverse running communities around the world. What she encountered far exceeded her expectations and changed her outlook into the sport she loved.
Over the next 12 months—visiting 9 countries with unique and storied running histories, logging over 3,500 miles running over trails, tracks, sidewalks, and dirt roads—Becky explored the varied approaches of runners across the globe. Whether riding shotgun around the streets of London with Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt, climbing for an hour at daybreak to the top of Ethiopia’s Mount Entoto just to start her daily run, or getting lost jogging through the bustling streets of Tokyo, Becky’s unexpected adventures, keen insights, and landscape descriptions take the reader into the heartbeat of distance running around the world.
Upon her return to the United States, she incorporated elements of the training styles she’d sampled into her own program, and her competitive career skyrocketed. When she made her marathon debut in 2013, winning the race in a blazing 2:30, she became the third-fastest woman marathoner under the age of 25 in U.S. history, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials and landing a professional sponsorship from Asics.
From the feel-based approach to running that she learned from the Kenyans, to the grueling uphill workouts she adopted from the Swiss, to the injury-recovery methods she learned from the Japanese, Becky shares the secrets to success from runners and coaches around the world. The story of one athlete’s fascinating journey, Run the World is also a call to change the way we approach the world’s most natural and inclusive sport.
If Becky Wade is not the luckiest runner-traveler out there, I don't know who is! With the help of the Watson Fellowship, she got to travel around the world for a YEAR and run. And run. And run some more. And learn about how other cultures approach running. If that doesn't sound like an insanely cool trip-of-a-lifetime, we have very different bucket lists. :)
Run the World is Wade's memoir of her year of running travels. If you're a runner, this book will open your mind to all manner of different running techniques and traditions. As Wade mentions often, American runners tend to focus on gadgetry, speedwork speedwork speedwork, and structured training plans. However, she found that success as a runner doesn't always translate to keeping track of your pace on your Garmin with every run. And every great runner does not always "carb-load" with pasta the night before a big race. The things we take for granted as "must-haves" or "must-dos" as runners are not always available or desirable in other running cultures. Wade's book highlights those differences and the ways she was able to combine some of them with her old running routines to make her training even more effective.
There are so many facets of this book for readers to enjoy. Yes, there is the exploration of running culture, but the book is also peppered with international recipes for yummy runner foods that Wade discovered throughout her trip; descriptions of beautiful running locales the world round; and the wide variety of people she was able to form connections with in the running community. My initial awe at the details of Wade's journey quickly combined with admiration for her ability to comfortably jump right in to cultures that were entirely new to her. Wade rarely stayed in hotels or hostels, instead managing to find lodging with local runners or coaches during her stay in each country. Not only did this steep her in the daily life of the host country even more, but it required her to have a certain amount of bravery as she experienced a trial-by-fire introduction to each new culture. I'm not sure I could have done that with such a low level of anxiety!
Run the World is an excellent read, especially for the runners and the world travelers among you. Bonus: just before I opened my computer to write this post last night, I pulled my new issue of Runner's World out of the mailbox and found a feature about Becky Wade (and Run the World) inside! So check her out there as well. She is also racing in the US Olympic Track and Field Trials THIS WEEK in Portland, Oregon, vying for a spot to compete in the 3000m steeplechase.
Go, Becky, go! This is one runner/reader who will certainly be rooting for you from afar after following your running journey in this book.
As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.
HERE. And connect with Becky Wade via Twitter and Instagram.