Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner
Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (March 2, 2006)
Yes, I finished this fast. I finished it fast because I enjoyed it (and the semester is ending, which is giving me a bit more free time). It’s good, interesting, and admittedly quick read that’s given me a lot to think about (some of which may go into a locked post).
In 490 BCE, a Greek messenger ran from the Battle of Marathon to the city of
There are a few, however, who find the idea of running a paltry 26 miles to be not nearly enough of a challenge. Dean Karnazes is one of those select few who choose to pursue ultramarathons, running distances of over 100 miles in a single outing. These rare athletes push themselves to the limits of human endurance, and prove that those limits are a lot further than people think.
Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner is Karnazes memoir/chronicle of his love of running, his eventual transition into the ultramarthonning maniac that he is today, and some of the more interesting/amazing experiences he’s had (running a marathon at the South Pole, running 226 miles…non-stop, and a few others).
A lot, really.
Karnazes has a very breezy, easy writing style, that makes the reader feel as though he’s sitting around listening to some incredible stories over dinner. It would be very easy for him to present himself as some sort of inhuman tough guy, who never feels pain or fear, but Karnazes makes it quite clear that he experiences all of those feelings and emotions as he runs. In doing so, he makes it clear that the man behind the feats that he’s accomplished is, well, a man, subject to all the faults and foibles there in.
Karnazes also does a good job of getting in the psychology of how and why he runs, as best as he’s able to. He freely admits that it’s not an easy thing to describe or rationalize, but he does make a good effort at it, and ends up with some interesting insights into the mindset of the serious athlete.
And if you need something to kick you in the pants and get you motivated to go get a workout, this book will do it. It’s definitely having that effect on me.
I can’t really say I had any complaints. Reader’s looking for a deep, difficult, and contemplative read won’t necessarily get what they want here; Karnazes’s style, as I said, is pretty breezy—the language itself won’t challenge a serious reader. But there’s still an awful lot to think about, and I didn’t pick this up expecting Tolstoy.
Near total dehydration, excruciating muscle cramps, projectile vomiting, crawling bloody handed towards a finish line; pushing the human body to it’s limits sometimes results in nasty sensations. If you don’t want to read about them, don’t read this book.
Overall, I really enjoy this. As I said—its served as a great kick in the pants for me, and forced me to think about some issues in my own life I might not have thought of otherwise. Definitely worth checking out.