I recently finished reading my first fitness book, entitled “Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life Through Running” by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield. Now I’ve been running seriously for quite some time—since my freshman year of college, so almost four whole years—but I have also been recovering from two knee injuries and have been taking it slow.
The other reason I chose read this book first is because I still doubt at times that I am a ‘real runner’ (whatever that means) and didn’t want to start out my fitness reading adventure with their more intense book, “Marathoning for Mortals,” even though I have run a half marathon, and yes, my next goal is a full marathon!
Now, Bingham and Hadfield’s claim to fame is that they are “normal people” who started out not running and not exercising—like the majority of Americans, I would say. Bingham says he is the opposite of an athlete, and Hadfield says she didn’t even pick up running until after college.
With that in mind, also note that they have both completed marathons, duathlons, and a whole host of other events, including Hadfield’s favorite, adventure racing. In my eyes, they are both athletes. Maybe not natural athletes, persay, but people who have overcome their fear of what other people think of them to become what they want to be: runners. Which is what I ultimately want to do.
In their opinion, one only has to engage in the activity to be a runner. So, if you run a mile once a week, you are a runner. So, I am a runner. I have run a couple 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon (13.1 miles). My goal in the next few months is to train for the Madrid Half Marathon (Europe’s largest) and then to complete a full marathon upon my return to the U.S.
Bingham and Hadfield start out their book by explaining how our body works while running, the optimal way to run, what to wear, etc. Essentially, they prepare you to be a runner. Next, they prepare you mentally: that you can do it, and how you should do it—mentally. Then they go week by week, month by month, and into years with inspiring stories, advice and fitness expertise (my word, not theirs). They never refer to themselves as experts, rather, they think they are normal mortals who choose running as a way of life, and want to help other mortals choose running as a way of life.
Mental preparation is focused on for a great portion of the book because as they point out, 90% is mental and 10% is physical. As long as you have working legs, you can run. But oftentimes it is people’s fear and imagination keeping them from running.
“What prevented me from running a 10-K or marathon or any other distance was that I couldn’t imagine myself doing it. It wasn’t my body that was keeping me from achieving my dreams; it was imagination,” says Bingham.
The same goes for Hadfield: “Although it may seem that physical training is the key to successful running, it is mental fitness that is the foundation that supports everything you do. As with the physical, mental fitness grows through experience and time. Your mind if the control room for your body.”
Some of their advice is a bit quirky: for example, never wear your race t-shirt until after you have completed the race, or you will have years of bad running luck. I have always worn my race shirt during the actual race and have not suffered any negative consequences.
But their real-life stories and down-to-earth advice more than make up for that. They are motivating people, and have used their lives to help others improve their own. This is a half fitness, half self-help book, and I heartily recommend it for anyone who thinks they can’t run, mainly because you can run, and Bingham and Hadfield will show you how.
Bingham’s words to live by are, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” He points out that while some think courage is simply the absence of fear, he believes courage is the acknowledgment of fear but doing it anyway.
“A life lived in fear is a self-imposed sentence. We have the power to pardon ourselves, to set ourselves free, to avoid finding out when we die that we never truly lived,” he says.
So, ignore your fear that other people are judging you, watching you, or whatever. Just do it, because you can!
Bingham and Hadfield also provide running plans for 5K, 10K, and weight loss at the end of the book. I am eagerly looking forward to reading their book on marathons for the next leg of my running journey!
Tagged as: jenny hadfield. john bingham. running for mortals: a commonsense plan for changing your life through running. marathoning for mortals.