Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Review: Run For Your Life!

Book Review: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE – The Complete Marathon Guide

Author: Dr Ben Tan

Pages: 215, glossy paper, with colour photographs and reference-charts

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Editions

Price: SING$28.00

Available at major bookstores, as well as online

The cover on this book is simple, yet captures your attention. An orange, tank-top with a race-bib that screams the title of Dr Ben Tan’s third book, as well as a collar label that hints ‘Marathon – Gear up for your race’.

Dr Tan’s credibility and reputation is undisputed. As a leading sports-medicine specialist and local sporting personality with multiple awards, regional champion, and once the Top-50 sailor in the world, Dr Tan breasts the tape a winner in his third book. His first book was on yachting and his second, on weight management.

20 notable contributors grace this wonderfully collaborative work, which succeeds on many levels of relevance as a manual for both sports student and the weekend warrior. They include physiotherapists, sports physicians, running coaches, podiatrists, kinesiologists, nutritionists, surgeons, and sports scientists. To be able to align all these expertise into a clear and coherent flow must have been a colossal challenge – this book is highly readable. The foreword is by Murugiah Rameshon (our former-national marathoner who continues to hold the 2:24 record) who obviously recognizes and respects Dr Tan’s athletic brilliance.

The book is highly readable. The style is almost conversational, yet scientific and exact in its approach. The book avoids sticking points like a predictable format. Instead, it is analogous to running cross-country with a varied literary terrain that includes charts, short bios of runners, instructional photographs (by actual runners as models), tables of tips, and effective use of graphics – spread over 11 distinct chapters.

The three appendices at the end of this book, literally, cover all the ground for effective run training. In short, this book covers the A to Z of preparing for a marathon with the sensibility and caution that one cannot take for granted – it is hard work, however it is worth it. And, YOU CAN DO IT!

I liked the layout of the book. It has the feel of a triathlon guidebook by Joe Friel, the philosophy of Dr George Sheehan (Running and Being: The Total Experience), and the man-in-the-street appeal of Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running. The latter book was my manual when I started running track in school. I suspect that Tan’s book may establish its importance as a manual for current and future runners. The aging endurance runner will take solace with the fact that 40-somethings can still achieve sub-4 hour completion times, if they train safely and specifically. Tan and M. Rameshon do sub-3 hour marathons, and they are in their forties! I was inspired and assured by the encouraging words injected throughout this book, especially in the all-important Introduction.

Above all, peppered anecdotally in this book are useful leadership values like collaboration, recognition, discipline, teamwork, gratitude, respect, resolve, resilience and determination. You may be able to access many of these core values from the single and simple act of running, whether you lead or follow in a run session.

Highly recommended for neophytes to seasoned runners. Don’t walk to the bookstore for it – run!

Here is our recent interview with Ben Tan.


Diva Indoors said...

Nice one Enrico! Will see if it's downloadable via Kindle as I've just finished the one on the Tarahumaras. Good luck with that novel of yours, looking forward to it.

Enrico Varella said...

Thanks, Bernie. I don't know if Dr Tan's book is on Kindle yet. It is certainly a good read, and a clear guide towards your running goals and strategies.

Thanks for your encouragement; I am now about 13,000 words into the novel. The critic in me keeps reminding me to edit.