Walk, Run, Soar: A 52-Week Running Devotional, by Dorina Gilmore Young with Shawn Young
[Note: This book was given free of charge by Bethany House books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This is a complicated book. The subtitle of the book states that this is a running devotional, and it is not joking. Most devotionals have at their core some sort of spiritual principles. This book is about running. It is written by someone who runs for people who run. And all of that would be well and good on its own, but is made even more complicated by the way that the author talks about her life as well as her running in ways that I find rather puzzling. For example, this book is co-written by the author’s husband, but the author spends a lot of time talking about her first husband, who died with cancer, making this a book that dwells on problems of death and mortality as well as running. Similarly, the author has some strange quirks in her running habits, such as engaging in long runs without spending a lot of time to scope the course. Sometimes she comments that she struggled with her pacing because a course had an unusual layout, something that a bit of scouting would have made clear, allowing her to have a better gameplan than simply run the course.For someone who runs as much as the author does, she seems to lack a sense of strategy or tactics that would make her more successful at it.
This book is about 250 pages long and can be divided into two parts. After a foreword and an introduction, there are 52 relatively short devotionals that take up a bit more than 200 pages of the book. Many of these come with titles that spring from the Bible or from a summary of the contents of the devotional, including “Friend and Forerunner,” talking about Jesus Christ (25), or “Building Spiritual Muscles” (19), or “Walking With Purpose” (3), among many such examples. At the end of each devotional, the co-author gives some coaching notes as if he is there encouraging you, and each devotional ends with some sort of space to write thoughts and notes and goals for the week. The book is supposed to take a year to go through, and when the author isn’t talking about her running in a physical sense she is talking about her spiritual race and the complexities and tragedies and struggles of her life in a rather poignant fashion. After all of this is done, the second part of the book then consists of seven appendices that talk about how to form a running group (i), warm-up drills for runners (ii), 5k (iii), 10k (iv), half-marathon (v), weekly mileage charts (vi), and annual mileage charts (vii), for the truly ambitious among this book’s readers.
Ultimately, this book’s usual and deeply emotional content as well as the author’s lack of sound racing preparation do not make this a bad book by any means. It is a perfectly worthwhile book so long as you care about running a lot and you have an interest in running a lot more as well as reading a woman talking about her life and a lot about her husband while her second husband chimes in frequently about how to improve one’s running. This book is clearly not directed to me, but that’s not a bad thing at all. There are a great many books that are not written to me and many of them end up being quite worthwhile in some fashion. In this case, the author assumes (not entirely unjustly) that her audience is going to be women who are Christians as well as interested in running. There is an expectation that while men write to be read by both men and women, that women write expecting only women to pay attention to what they have to say. And this book could have been better if the author realized that she was speaking to a larger audience than she thinks.