Becoming a runner in the course of 2 years has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The journey we all take as we hit the streets is one we all share, similar or different. Over the last 3 weeks I have had the pleasure of reading "My Life On The Run" by Bart Yasso. A running journey that hits at the heart of why we do what we do.
For those that are unfamiliar with Mr Yasso, here is a little explanation. He has been dubbed the "Mayor of Running" for his generosity of sharing what running can mean in all of our lives. He can be found as a contributer to Runners World Magazine and fellow Blogger at his site www.bartyasso.com. I encourage you to click on the link to read his bio.
His book "My Life On The Run" is one that I found incredibly motivating. As I read this book I found my self comparing him to Jack Kerouac. Now, not quite a stream of conscious writer, but more a larger than life personality with a shear joy of living, running and meeting new people in new places. Bart really knows how to just "connect" with people, whether you are in the same room or the simple act of turning the page.
With this joy of life comes great adventure, much like an "On the Road" experience. For instance running down a path only to find a Rhino facing him! He has ran races in all seven continents from Antarctica to the Smokey Mountains and remembers them all with fun detail. He has also completed five Ironman competitions and the Badwater 146 in Death Valley.
These accomplishments are fantastic, but that is not what drew me into this book. Bart has overcome more than one obstacle including addiction (which he freely admits) and one he could not control -- Lyme disease. For those unaware Lyme Disease is debilitating muscular disease that can be very painful. It is the life changing moments that Bart overcomes and still battles that make this book come together.
Bart could have easily just talked about all the accomplishments that he made, but it is his connection to people that is the real accomplishment. Changing lives for many people he has come across. One thing that Bart is not is pompous. This is what makes him so engaging. He can really make fun of himself, which makes this book easy to read. In fact there is a great little story about running with a real live "Jack Ass" in a race you will not believe. One of my favorites was a story about running a race at a nudist colony (almost made me want to try!)
Bart definitely has his opinions and I don't agree with everything he says, but I will tell you I do think differently after reading this book. I was never one to think about being a vegetarian but Bart had an interesting line about how much grain it takes to produce one hamburger as opposed to feeding x amount of people. Don't get me wrong this book is not written with an agenda about vegetarianism nor any other political fire. It just made me think in a different way and I always love that from an author.
In addition to all his adventures Bart also gives some training advice, training schedules and the skinny on the Yasso 800's. (A marathon time prediction system based upon the average time it takes you to run 800 meters.) He also gives you his list of favorite races in the world to run -- more than a few on there I would like to do, like the Rome Marathon.
This is one of the best running books I have read so far and one that every runner should pick up. In Bart's words "Running may be the connective tissue, but the true essence of the sport is a passage to a bigger world".
I know my world is now bigger.