A number of things conspired to prevent me from posting last week, namely a math final and a pretty nasty (ongoing) respiratory ailment. Also, there's the fact that I haven't been running.
I wish I could say that after my last post I "listened to my body" and stopped running right then and there. But actually, it took one more run to get to that point. An attempted interval workout, in fact.
WHY did I attempt this run when my body wasn't 100% up to it? Well, I was obviously trying to cement my status as a totally irresponsible, injury-plagued blogger, by which I mean a successful blogger. That, or I mistakenly believed a faster run with faster leg turnover would be easier on my body. Lesson learned!
I took the entire rest of the week off and am going to try again tomorrow, lungs permitting. I noticed I didn't have any pain running in socks on the treadmill (the socks are because bare feet on the treadmill results in a bloody mess), so I'm going to stick with that initially. Exciting stuff.
Here are some pictures from a jaunt up Flattop on Wednesday.
Since I haven't been running and I'm trying to perpetuate the idea that I'm a runner or something, we're going to talk about a running book today. Before I go any farther, though, I want to reassure Megan that this review isn't a dig at her or her tastes. I heard about this book through her comment on Professor Amy's Kara Goucher post and was really excited to read it. [side note: Amy, I just saw your response. Unfortunately I bought the Kindle version so it's pretty non-transferable!] As you'll see, it did not, ahem, quite live up to my expectations, but I still really appreciate the recommendation. I hope you won't take my review personally, and keep in mind: who the hell am I? Some nobody on the internet. My opinion doesn't matter!
So, the book is Sage Canaday's "Running for the Hansons: An Insider's Account of The Brooks-Sponsored Marathon Training Group Made Famous By Olympian Brian Sell." Yes, that title and its strange capitalization should have alerted me to the fact that Canaday's writing is not on the level of, say, Hemingway, or even freaking E L James.
If "worse than the lady who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey" wasn't clear enough, I'll put it in plain English: the writing in this book is atrocious. Like, much of the shit you see on these here interblogs is better written than this book. I was astonished that a publisher would print this swill until I noticed it was actually published by "Vo2max Productions, LLC," which I believe is Canaday's company. Well, that explains it.
There are many sentences which, at first glance, seem impressive. There are some big words in there and, hell, Canaday is an Ivy! League! graduate!, a fact he cites at every opportunity. But on closer inspection (or any inspection, really), his sentences are whack. They often read as though Canaday threw some fancy words into a hat, pulled them out at random, and then challenged himself to make a semi-coherent sentence out of it all. The results... are terrible, at best. Those that do make sense are riddled with "kill-me-now" spelling and grammatical errors.
I rarely use the Kindle highlighting function, but I think I spent more time hate-highlighting than I did thinking about what he was actually saying. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:
"In retrospect I think maybe I got the swine flu, although at the time I didn't think it had hit Michigan that hard yet. Hopefully I'll recover soon enough; I just hope I don't get pneumonia or a lung-infection." Canaday switches from past to present tense all the time, as though he's interrupting his journal entry to talk about it in the present day. It's maddening.
"Anyway, a caravan of cars led by infamous driver Rizzo headed out of Rochester Hills in the dark... Anyway, we rolled out of Rochester Hills around 6:15, a string of cars with Rizzo in his Mercury Sable leading." Repetitive, much?
"Sell remembers the time fondly, hinting that the label of blue-collar becoming attributed to his character was no coincidence: 'We were like these low-class guys.'" Fondly? Hinting? What about Sell's quote suggests fond remembrances of this time, or hinting of any kind?
And one of my favorites, in which Canaday tries to sound deep, philosophical, and well-educated but comes off like a doofus:
"Perhaps, ultimately that desire, that pinnacle on Maslow's pyramid consisting of self-actualization, was what initially compelled me to start writing this book."
Canaday must have taken some economics classes in school because he sprinkles totally unnecessary economic-ish terms throughout the book. "Opportunity cost" is a favorite, usually used in reference to regular costs (note: you can't take any ol' cost and add the word "opportunity" to it. An opportunity cost is the value of a forgone choice, ie. the value of lost hours of work if you choose to, say, go to the beach. It's not, for example, the cost of gas used to drive somewhere).
Some other things that bothered me about the book:
Incessant Brooks name-dropping
For example: "I'm thinking of wearing 3 layers on top, my warmest Brooks hat, Brooks Paradox Mittens, and Brooks Equilibrium Windbrief Boxers with my Brooks Podium Pants. I also wear my Brooks Nightlife Jacket to top it all off..." I understand the desire to thank a sponsor, but this is so over-the-top.
NOT TELLING US HIS BOSTON MARATHON TIME
The entire book is about his year spent training for the Boston Marathon, a race he says he tanked. He gives us his teammates' times but, probably because of his bruised ego, doesn't tell us how he did other than to say that it was terrible. That drives me crazy. He later mentions being a 2:24 marathoner, but I don't know if that's in reference to his Boston time or his PR. I was too lazy to look up his official time, but I feel like he SHOULD have included it.
Girls, girls, girls
I get it: Canaday was lonely. This book serves as a journal of sorts, and he often had hot coeds on his mind. But whenever he talks about going anywhere, it's always accompanied by, "There was a group of really hot girls sitting in the corner. I wish I had talked to one of them." Even at Boston, he mentions a girl looking at him lustily at the marathon expo and regretting not approaching her. Easy, boy.
So after all that, did I enjoy this book? The obvious answer is no. But, surprisingly, I couldn't help but enjoy it. WHAT?!?!
Well, despite his awesomely terrible writing, I found myself drawn to Canaday's earnestness. In fact, he's a lot like my dog, Bailey: adorable, eager to please, but not all there. Of course, I would never let Bailey write a book.
There's also the fact that Canaday is a f-cking stud runner. There's no denying it: if someone runs fast, I'll give them much more leeway than I would a hobby jogger like myself. It's unfair, but it is what it is. I like reading about fast people and their fast lives. The fact that the Hansons feature (semi-)prominently in the story also helps. I love all things Hanson.
Canaday is more into mountain- and ultra-running these days (he won and set a new course record at the Speedgoat 50k recently), which is something I can totally get down with. He's also got a blog, which I think I'll probably start reading. Hey, I never said I was reasonable! Fast people get fast people leeway.
Question: do you have any runner book recommendations? Lay 'em on me. I'll reward you by writing a scathing review of it.