This book is a collection of essays about running by cross country coach and writer Martin Dugard. At times, the writing is very good. Dugard knows how to write and his love of running is certainly illumnated through his essays. For the most part, I enjoyed this book. As a beginning runner, I enjoyed seeing how Dugard’s love for the sport has kept is interest over a lifetime.
Though I enjoyed it, To Be a Runner wasn’t without it’s problems. First, the essays were connected in theme only. They seemed collected in no particular order. Some focused on his individual running adventures while others focused on his coaching or his high school runners. As a result, some of the essays were much more interesting and engaging than others.
The biggest problem with this book, however, was that it made me feel like an outsider. I didn’t run cross country in high school and I’ve only been running for a few months. My longest run is just five miles and I’m struggling with losing enough weight to run any further than that. Also, about half my runs happen on treadmills as a means to protect my body from pain and as a way to protect myself from the unpredictable Ohio weather. Dugard almost comes off as a “run snob” and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t even consider me an actual runner. I may be totally wrong, but I doubt that I was the target audience for his writing.
I enjoyed the book and particularly enjoyed visiting the sport through Dugard’s eyes. But don’t pick it up if you expect to learn anything about the sport or to pick up hints or tips. Read it for what it is … a collection of loosely connected essays written by an avid runner who loves the sport.