Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Running: A Love Story

The last thing Jen Miller ever thought she would ever find herself doing is running in competitive road races, even if her main competitor would turn out to be the clock (as every runner knows, any race in which you set a new personal best time is considered a victory no matter where in the pack you actually finish).  She, in fact, found the very thought of running for sport or pleasure, especially the latter, to be absolutely absurd.  She goes so far as to say that the word “detested” is “too kind a description” to explain how the teenaged Jen Miller felt about running.

But now she is a runner, one with a regular column in Runner’s World who has also written freelance newspaper pieces about the running experience.  Jen Miller discovered running when she needed it most – and that brings us back to the book’s subtitle: “A Love Story.”  As it turns out, the love interest referred to in the subtitle is not limited to the sport of running because the book also recounts each of the failed “love stories” that Miller endured while discovering all the positive things about herself that running was simultaneously teaching her. 

Jen Miller is not a quitter, and that is usually a good thing.  But when it comes to sticking with failed love affairs long past their sell-by dates, it can be a really bad thing.  Now combine that stubbornness with Miller’s tendency to bring precisely the wrong type of man into her life over and over again, and you have all the makings of a browbeaten woman who gives and gives and gives in a relationship until she hardly recognizes herself.  That’s where running came in for Miller: she badly needed a way to recreate her self-image into a positive one, and almost despite herself, running did that for her.

Jen A. Miller
Very few beginning runners enjoy the sport enough at first to envision it ever becoming an important part of their lives.  But if they stay with it long enough to get past the initial muscle pain and breathlessness they face – and if they don’t suffer the kind of injury that often serves as an excuse to give up the whole idea of ever running again – that is often what happens.  And it happened for Miller, who can now claim five marathons (and numerous races of lesser distances) for the ten years during which she has enjoyed “the life changing sport” of running. 

Running: A Love Story is one woman’s story; it is not a running manual or a book about the more spiritual aspects of long-distance running such as the much vaunted “runner’s high.”  It is simply the story of a woman who changed from someone with a poor self-image - and a crushing willingness to go along to get along - into the self-confident, strong woman that was always hidden deep inside her.  For Jen Miller, the real running journey she’s been on for the past decade is one of self-discovery, not one measured in miles.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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