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The runner’s rule book: a review

8 January, 2010

This offering from Rodale is, like their flagship magazine Runner’s World, light and fluffy and was probably intended as stocking filler for the subscribing reader. Apparently Santa’s elves overlooked Vancouver Public Library system though, as this only just came through yesterday (I reserved it back in October). It’s the kind of read you might tackle after a Sunday effort, having completed one of those runs that renders you immobilized and good for little more than pigging out on the couch. Like the magazine though, while headed straight down the middle of the road, in the middle of the pack and with a very middling time, it has its moments. For example, rule 1.34 suggests you read the sports section backwards: “An American could win the Boston marathon in world-record time…do backflips across the finishing line…sports editors would give the story two paragraphs on page C-11, under a yacht race recap. Also, they would misspell the runner’s name.” Sadly true, and even more so in Canada, I’m afraid. It should be obvious by now, but apparently it still does need to be stated: “3.5 Save the race shirt for postrace”. In my life I’ve managed to overcome many superstitious beliefs, but this one just seems so self-evidently right.

Best of all is “2.32 Do whatever it takes to finish ahead of a costumed runner”. This made me laugh. In my last half marathon there was a guy wearing a cape not too far behind me at the end (I didn’t overtake him until around mile 10 and was losing ground to almost everyone in the last mile). The mild panic at the thought of being overtaken by a man in a cape helped me counter the pain I was enduring at the time. Most of the rest of it reminded me why I rarely bother with this magazine these days (“Remove your hat when they play the anthem. Show some respect”, and “Medals are wearable for a reason”). Groan. No they’re not, they’re just nice and shiny and make a good clanging sound from the hook on my bathroom door. Having said that, along with the occasional, entertaining aside, there is also some useful advice for beginning runners, some of which is usually only learned through hard-won experience. Worth lining up for at the library if you’re new to the game, or possibly buying for the recently born-again, middle-aged runner.

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