Run the World: My 3,500-mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe, by Becky Wade
2016, 288p, Non-fiction
My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review
From elite marathoner and Olympic hopeful Becky Wade comes the story of her year-long exploration of diverse global running communities from England to Ethiopia—9 countries, 72 host families, and over 3,500 miles of running—investigating unique cultural approaches to the sport and revealing the secrets to the success of runners all over the world.
Fresh off a successful collegiate running career—with multiple NCAA All-American honors and two Olympic Trials qualifying marks to her name—Becky Wade was no stranger to international competition. But after years spent safely sticking to the training methods she knew, Becky was curious about how her counterparts in other countries approached the sport to which she’d dedicated over half of her life. So in 2012, as a recipient of the Watson Fellowship, she packed four pairs of running shoes, cleared her schedule for the year, and took off on a journey to infiltrate diverse running communities around the world. What she encountered far exceeded her expectations and changed her outlook into the sport she loved.
Over the next twelve months—visiting 9 countries with unique and storied running histories, logging over 3,500 miles running over trails, tracks, sidewalks, and dirt roads—Becky explored the varied approaches of runners across the globe. Whether riding shotgun around the streets of London with Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt, climbing for an hour at daybreak to the top of Ethiopia’s Mount Entoto just to start her daily run, or getting lost jogging through the bustling streets of Tokyo, Becky’s unexpected adventures, keen insights, and landscape descriptions take the reader into the heartbeat of distance running around the world.
Upon her return to the United States, she incorporated elements of the training styles she’d sampled into her own program, and her competitive career skyrocketed. When she made her marathon debut in 2013, winning the race in a blazing 2:30, she became the third-fastest woman marathoner under the age of 25 in U.S. history, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials and landing a professional sponsorship from Asics.
From the feel-based approach to running that she learned from the Kenyans, to the grueling uphill workouts she adopted from the Swiss, to the injury-recovery methods she learned from the Japanese, Becky shares the secrets to success from runners and coaches around the world. The story of one athlete’s fascinating journey, Run the World is also a call to change the way we approach the world’s most natural and inclusive sport.
As a recipient of the Watson Fellowship in 2012, 22-year-old Becky Wade traveled the world for a year to learn about living, connecting and running. Her travels took her to England, Ireland, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden and Finland. She became immersed in their cultures and trained with several runners in other countries. At the end of each chapter, she shares a recipe from the country she visited. I loved reading about her experiences in each of these places! I'm not a runner at all and am happy to say that I learned tons just from reading this book. I loved her descriptions and felt like I was traveling with her. She trained in different altitudes and terrains, which seemed to help her when she returned to the States. She had a great time in each country she visited, but she also had her fair share of difficulties and trials. When she got to Sweden, her older brother Matt visited her for 10 days. She was feeling tired and wasn't sure how she would finish her tour, but his visit rejuvenated her and gave her the strength to keep going. His visit also gave her a clearer vision as to what she wanted to do when she returned home. The Olympics will be starting soon so this was the perfect time to read this book! I must admit that I am attracted more to swimming and gymnastics, but after reading her book, I will pay close attention to Becky Wade in the marathon and cheer her on!
Becky Wade is a professional long-distance runner who competes for Asics. At Rice University she was a four-time All-American and the winner of the Joyce Pounds Hardy Award, Rice’s highest athletic honor, and the Conference USA honoree for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Rice with a triple major in history, psychology, and sociology, Becky traveled the world on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and visited 22 countries to explore long-distance running cultures.
In her 26.2-mile debut in December 2013, Becky won the California International Marathon, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials. Currently, she is fulfilling her dream of running professionally and chasing Olympic aspirations, while coaching and working part-time at a shelter for homeless youth.