The Born Again Runner: A Guide to Overcoming Excuses, Injuries, and Other Obstacles for New and Returning Runners by Pete Magill
I have always enjoyed running. Especially during those intervals when I’m not injured.
Pete Magill calls this book, THE BORN AGAIN RUNNER because that’s exactly what running did for him. The author was warned by an E.R. doctor that he would not be living too much longer—especially with his abusive lifestyle. The doctor predicted that "you won't live to see your son graduate from high school."
That stern warning delivered in the emergency room did the trick. Pete Magill changed his life: "I conjured a practicing runner from the mess I'd made of my life." And now, the author wants to encourage you to similarly--and drastically change your life for the better.
Of course, Pete Magill is a well-known name in running circles. He is also the author of my #1 favorite running book of all time, Build Your Running Body. I have used the author's prior book extensively.
THE BORN AGAIN RUNNER is quite different than the author's first book. This book is more of a motivational book, to help readers who are thinking of taking up the challenge to begin running, or for those just needing encouragement to begin again. It’s more focused on beginner runners.
This book spends a lot of time discussing injuries, and how to avoid them. I applaud the author for taking such care to ease the reader into running. One great section is called "Injury Prevention 101." It discusses the common running injuries, and how best to avoid and treat them. The author is well aware of injuries suffered by runners. Pete acknowledges the statistics showing that the majority (50-80%) of runners get injured each year. This is greatly preventable, Pete claims. For one thing, novices should begin very slowly. And so his plan, "First Workout," has simple, gradual exercises just for former couch potatoes.
The author discusses some common reasons to avoid running. For example, "Running ruins your knees." (Myself, I avoided running my whole life because of that belief.) Not only does running NOT ruin your knees—it’s the very opposite. Runners are so fit that they need knee replacements at 7-fold less frequent than non-runners. One of the best graphics depicting the benefits of running is entitled, "Heart Attacks per Year." There, Pete shows how runner have drastically fewer heart attacks.
One feature I really like about this book is the end of each chapter, in a section called "Chapter Takeaway.” These summaries provides a nice digest of the chapter. For example, in one early chapter, Pete again cautions sedentary folks to start gradually. The “Chapter Takeaway” urges moderation: "It's counterproductive to start a running program by mapping out a challenging training schedule. Your body isn't ready for that. Your muscles, bones, and tendons are too weak."
The book is filled with numerous testimonials from runners, in sidebars called, "Becoming a Runner.” Most of these accounts are stories of transitioning from terrible health problems to a life of regular running and health improvement. Many of these testimonials are from seniors, or those who had to overcome severe obstacles, such as substance abuse.
Don’t miss this: My favorite part of this book is Chapter 9: "Create your Personal Action Plan." Pete encourages the reader to set up (and write down) goals related to exercise, diet, and lifestyle. For example, he suggests the use of the familiar "running log" to help the beginner be disciplined in their new exercise. (I got that idea from Pete's first book--and I do it!) The author also includes detailed plans for preparing for a race, as well as suggested exercises when faced with an injury.
All in all, I found THE BORN AGAIN RUNNER to be an encouraging--even an inspiring read. I enjoyed hearing about other ordinary people, often seniors, who took up running and made huge changes in their lives. One caveat: Realistically speaking, can this book really be as good as Pete’s first book? Well, probably not; few books will ever match the author's first book. However, I found THE BORN AGAIN RUNNER to be a good, practical book, especially for beginning runners. It’s also useful for anyone reluctant to start running for fear of injury.
Advance Review Copy courtesy of NetGalley. Photos courtesy of