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Pam Reed’s The Extra Mile

I’ve really gotten hooked on reading about ultramarathons. (Stating the obvious, eh?) The stories are so inspiring, they just make me want to get out there and run! (And I do, I don’t just think about it ;-))

The latest one I just finished is The Extra Mile: One Woman’s Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness by Pam Reed.

Reed makes some good points, but I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. This book brought out some of my own feelings of inadequacy in some areas, I think, which was one reason I couldn’t really call it an inspiring read. Reed seems to have mixed feelings herself about many things, including her battle with anorexia. For a number of reasons, I was really drained when I finished it.

Some random impressions:

  • Reed spends so much time during the book being defensive about things (like her intersections with Dean Karnazes), that it really is an energy-suck.
  • She seems to be very conflicted over her anorexia. She openly refers to herself as an anorexic, but she spends a lot of time and energy being defensive about not being “one of those” anorexics who lost control over it. I would say this is not necessarily a healthy book for anyone with a capital E-D Eating Disorder.
  • She doesn’t seem to think highly of others. Her ego is a little unbearable at times. She says things like, “In spite of my unhappiness with my teammates….” I think towards the end, she redeems herself for me a bit when she talks about her ultra coach and crew and clearly appreciates them.
  • I think she makes some really good analogies between ultrarunning and life, such as marriage. “I think it’s a matter of taking responsibility, of owning the commitment you choose to make, rather than anything you have to do…. To some, comparing marriage to a difficult long-distance run might seem like a bleak view. For me… it’s just every day reality.” (The end of her first marriage, however, was another one of the parts of the book that made me feel squicky inside.)
  • Ultrarunning taught Reed to break things down into bite-size pieces — a handy skill in life, generally. “Learning how to break down a long distance into a series of much smaller ones is really a key method for getting through any long journey.”
  • Several comments gave me the impression she thinks fat people are just lazy and undisciplined and less-than. I feel like I would get sincere encouragement from other runners, but I wouldn’t expect that of Reed. I might be surprised, of course.

On my way to the bookstore to grab another running book and to go for a bike/run with the family! Whee!

Fri, December 26 2008 » Motivation

2 Responses

  1. Jason December 27 2008 @ 10:40 am

    Hi there again. I enjoyed this post. It was interesting because I tried to use a coach for my first ultra, it turned out he was much like the person your talking about in the post aside from the ED. I have found that for the most part, ultra runners are a laid back group, but most of them don’t understand the battle of being overweight. They can congratulate you, which they did to me, but many of them had the same attitude that you are talking about in the post. On the contrary, the marathon crowd, it much much much more positive and exciting. Both arenas have their ups and downs I guess
    http://run4change.wordpress.com

  2. Alexia December 28 2008 @ 8:08 am

    That’s interesting, Jason, and I’m glad I’m forewarned! 😀