Book Review: The Courage to Start

So for the next selection for Jamie's bookclub (well, I guess it is OUR bookclub, but she is our leader!) was "The Courage to Start: A Guide to Start Running for Your Life" by John "the Penguin" Bingham.
This book was one of those running books that really hit me. Hard. Because it really highlights all of the wonderful things about running that I need to remind myself of all of the time. I am definitely struggling with my running and my mindset toward it right now, since I have all of these unclear pictures of what training is for me right now. And this book is helping me to remember all of these things.

When I started this book about a week and a half ago (yes, I slacked, but I also knew that I wouldn't be posting this entry until later on), I even got out my highlighter. I definitely was using it while I was reading and trying to use it to remind myself of different things that is needed for me to continue with my training.

"I've given up on having a plan to succeed. With each step, with every mile, I am making a new plan." - page 26

This one is particularly interesting to me. It was one that I read and reread over and over, highlighted it, and reflected on it. This resonates with me because it is kind of where I am feeling right now. At least, it is what I am trying to feel. I am trying to remember that it is okay to NOT have a plan, to just RUN. It is ok to not have a plan or to make a new plan all the time and to just enjoy what I do because I love it.

And yet, that is one of the most difficult things about being a runner to accept. Sometimes it is just ok to just be without goals without direction. This book is a reminder to just slow down. To do what you love. To do what feels right. That is the best part of running. Running feels good and it is something that calms me, makes me strong.

John focuses in this book that it is not about being fast. It is not about winning. Sometimes, it is not even about racing. It is all about being the person that you are meant to be. Maybe you are meant to be a runner. Maybe you are meant to be an accountant (maybe I am meant to be one). And it seems like John believes that you can use running to find that out.

There is an entire chapter in this book called "finding the balance". In this chapter, John talks a lot about the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and how everything should be just right. This is related to running in many ways. Shoes being too soft or too firm, not running enough or risking injury and burnout, taking the rest days that our bodies need and coming to terms with the fact that you are not going to use all of your fitness in just the one day that you are off.

John puts finding that balance into the simplest of terms... That is, we listen to our bodies. But if you are anything like me, that will be far more difficult than it sounds. You will often feel guilty about not training enough. On Sundays, which you take as rest days, you will wonder if you should go out and run, just three miles, because why not? Because your body needs the rest day to rebuild it self. And I promise (I am talking to myself here) it will be ok.

This book came along right at the right time for me. I am not training for anything right now. I needed this book as a reminder to keep on going because running is something that I have discovered that I love. It is something that keeps me sane, centered and calm.

Do you struggle with the same things that I do? Taking a rest, being who you are meant to be? Have you read this book?


  1. Nice review! After the triathlon season ended, I took a break from structured workouts, which included following a running plan. It was nice to run based on how my body felt each day; I'd run long one day, do speedwork the next, etc., and it was relatively unplanned. However, I'm a type A person, so not having a plan or a goal won't work for me long-term. Keep on running!


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