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To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  656 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews

With an exuberant mix of passion, insight, instruction, and humor, best-selling author—and lifelong runner—Martin Dugard takes a journey through the world of running to illustrate how the sport helps us fulfill that universal desire to be the best possible version of ourselves each and every time we lace up our shoes.

To Be a Runner represents a new way to write about runn

ebook, 0 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Rodale (first published May 4th 2011)
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Dec 29, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Over the weekend I completed my third 5K. Running is still relatively new to me so I've been signing up for a 5K a month to keep myself working towards a goal. There are two libraries I regularly visit and somehow at the one location I seem to always find running books. This is the book I read on Sunday night when we were without power. It was nice to have few distractions, but it would have been nicer to have more light. I think I need a better book light!

The book is a collection of essays abou
Jess Dollar
Jul 10, 2012 Jess Dollar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and inspirational. A quick, easy read that will cheer you up and make your next few runs a little more meaningful. A few observations I liked:
The author doesn't have goals, he has quests. I love the idea of having quests instead of goals. Makes them seem more personal and engaging.
I love the point the author made about how good goals (quests) allow you to become a better person in a way that fits into your life, not by taking over your life. Many athletes forget that and become obsessed with
My favorite part of this whole book was on the 17th page in the essay called "Excuses, Excuses" is starts:

"To be an endurance athlete is to have a million excuses at the ready: It's too cold to train, too wet, too sunny, too Saturday. My shoes are wet. My tires are flat. I'm fat. I'm out of Gu. I can't put this book down. I just ate a burrito. My cat has a tumor. And on and on."

I loved it because as a long distance rummer it was very relate-able. To be sure there, there were other relate-able mo
Dec 01, 2012 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Meh. I sort of enjoyed the first couple chapters of this book, but only sort of. The stories are fine, but not particularly unique or unusually interesting. The tone is a bit too "inspirational poster" for me. Lots of positivity and thinly veiled life advice, and no particular reason that advice from the author is any more worthy than advice from, say, the guy who drove me home from the airport. The fact that the author has been a runner and a coach for a long time is his only particular credent ...more
I wanted to like this book and despite multiple attempts to finish it I simply couldn't get to the end. I agree with another reviewer who stated it was a decent book ruined by the author. The final straw for me was in reading Dugard's reflections on 'writing a good sentence' and how it gives him satisfaction. His mantra of 'keep pushing...always' speaks to the seemingly obtuse nature of this author. If you want inspiration, read Born to Run.
Aaron Maurer
Aug 14, 2011 Aaron Maurer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
This summer I have been on this rampage of reading non YA books and instead reading books about bettering ourselves(not self help), increasing mental toughness, eliminating the things in our lives that we don't really need that end up causing us more stress, and fitness.

I saw this book at my local library and picked it up on a whim. What a great whim as I found this to be the perfect book for me to end my summer on. It helped to guide me with appreciating my runs, where I run, my habit of runnin
Jul 15, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: running
In having read a lot of running books in the last year, I have found that I most enjoy ones formatted like To Be a Runner. It seems that most running books devote each chapter to an anecdote of some sort. Often each chapter is devoted to telling a story about a different runner's inspiring experience, a la Chicken Soup for the Soul. I have a hard time getting into those books. This book, like Personal Record and Mile Markers, on the other hand, is full of anecdotes that directly relate to the au ...more
Jun 05, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, an eloquent collection of essays on running by Martin Dugard. So many of his statements resonated deeply with me, a devoted runner (some of my friends might call me obsessed). I don't think this book will appeal to others who don't have a deep love for running, nor those who do run but do it solely for exercise and not for the love of the sport.

Martin, I'm running my first marathon this year at age 49...any words of wisdom for me? :)
Aug 03, 2015 Lynette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good motivator to get up and run :)
Jul 08, 2011 Genie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read for me because I related to so much of what Martin Dugard says about running.
Sep 08, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always looking for something to inspire me into liking running. I run, I can't say I particularly enjoy it all the time, but I always feel like I've accomplished something after a run. So, enter all the running books I can find for helping with that inspiration. This one had an interesting title "To Be A Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking on a 5-K Makes You a Better Person."

We start the book with how Dugard got into running through his parents. Then we ju
Clark Goble
This book is a collection of essays about running by cross country coach and writer Martin Dugard. At times, the writing is very good. Dugard knows how to write and his love of running is certainly illuminated through his essays. For the most part, I enjoyed this book. As a beginning runner, I enjoyed seeing how Dugard’s love for the sport has kept is interest over a lifetime.

Though I enjoyed it, To Be a Runner wasn’t without it’s problems. First, the essays were connected in theme only. They se
Jan 18, 2012 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a relatively new runner, and it was this book's second title that got my attention: "How racing up mountains, running with the bulls, or just taking on a 5-k makes you r abetter person (And the world a better place)." I believe that sentiment, as running made me a better person, and I was eager to read another runner's experience with being better because of running. I found Dugard's essays to be rather hit-or-miss with that goal, or perhaps it's just a matter of personal connection. In some ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Naseem rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Getting through endurance runner Martin Dugard's Book, To Be A Runner, was, for me, an endurance test in and of itself. Like most runs, it started out nice, the scenery pleasant enough, the path seemingly having some direction. But like the runs the author likes to take - wandering and aimless - the book followed suit. That was all okay, I can hang with a book of vignettes about running, but it was the ego that seeped in, the guts and glory rhetoric, the megalomania, that started to make this bo ...more
Pretty good book. I'd say it's a guy's version of Mile Markers by K. Armstrong. Short stories about running adventures that teach meaningful life lessons. The author bothered me a little bit in his rigid opinions (making fun of people who run on treadmills, for instance). I wish he had been a little more open-minded about all the different types and levels of runners out there. But since the book was part memoir, I'll allow him his own views and opinions.
What I enjoyed most was learning a littl
As I sit here I think of the audience for this book. The focus is fairly narrow and I don’t imagine non-runners being terribly excited about Dugard’s anecdotes, or his philosophies. Within the running community, perhaps a narrower group of people that really enjoy a memoir type running book. I liked the book. Dugard writes clearly and isn’t overly florid, but I can’t imagine I would recommend this book to very many people. Not because it isn’t good, it just fits into an awkward niche.

For a full
Helen Dunn
Oct 02, 2011 Helen Dunn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: runners
I'm a fan of Martin Dugard, I've been reading his books and his blog for years and I even have a t-shirt that his cross country team was selling as a fundraiser, so I was inclined to enjoy this book.

I found the essays got a bit repetitive over time but the general message of "keep pushing....always' is a good one. Strive to be your best self is hard to argue with. Anyone who runs will feel a connection with the author and I found many of the passages inspirational.

I think this would be a great
Aug 12, 2011 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dugard shares his lifelong love and passion for running without separating it from his life. The various essays contain amazing anecdotes (e.g., Pamplona), failures, epiphanies, practical advice and coaching how-tos within the context of his parenthood, marriage, philosophical pondering and unabashed and stolid faith. Nothing comes across as overwrought, insincere or trite.

Personally, I find Dugard's book to be a rarity, and not because it joins the ranks of all the others I have found insightf
Renee Boucher
This was an entertaining read. A collection of essays on various topics in the runners world. I found myself relating to his words often. One thing I would have loved to read was how Martin dealt with the scheduling of runs with a busy family. He has 3 children as do I, its always nice to hear of others expericences of maintaining training when family comes first. Martin sure does make you want to go out and hit the trail. His encounters of trail runs, which are abundant in his area, are present ...more
May 05, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: martin-dugard
Well this is from one of my favorite authors, where everything I have read from him is 4 stars or better. His best book is Into Africa, but his others I have read are right up there. I am glad I read this. I am pretty active playing lacrosse and hit the gym a fair amount, not as much with 2 little guys, but have always been a gym rat. I used to run all the time as well, but not so much lately. This really got me pumped to want to run some more and I am going to commit to a couple 5K-6K races com ...more
Andy Miller
Martin Dugard's book about running reads like a series of essays. He shifts from his current running likes and dislikes( i.e.trail running,like;treadmill dislike) to experiences as a high school cross country coach to memories of his days as a top notch runner in college to how he dealt with times in his life when he was out of shape and overweight

I liked the variety of running topics and his enthusiasm for running that threads its way through all of the essays. It occasionally comes off as a bi
Jul 17, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a collection of essays that turned into a man's story of running and coaching. Definitely something I would recommend to all my running/outdoorsy friends. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

That's another running teaches you: No matter how hard the pace or how high the hill, you will endure. Every struggle comes to an end if you just keep pushing forward (p 94).

'Keep Pushing' is a reminder not to settle but to dream, to live, to sing, and sometimes it's about letting go of the past
Catherine Gillespie
In To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place), author Michael Dugard develops running as a metaphor for the impetus to be your best in life. The book really is about running–I made notes about how to train and what to look for in a running shoe–but at a deeper level it’s about finding that sweet spot of pushing yourself to be your best without crashing and burning out.

{Read my full review here}
Kevin Washburn
Dec 08, 2011 Kevin Washburn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is easily my favorite book on running yet. Dugard provides snapshots of his running and training in each chapter. These often implicitly provide insights that are valuable for both running and life. Dugard writes with a fluidity and beauty often seen in the motion of elite marathoners. As a result, the book moves and readers will only want to put down for times of reflection sparked by the writer's ideas. Even if you are not a runner, there is beauty and wisdom here worthy of your time!
Erin Payseur
Mar 15, 2016 Erin Payseur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an easy & inspirational read. It has reminded me what I love about running and inspired me to put back on the running shoes. The author is an accomplished runner without being intimidating. He included humorous anecdotes, helpful advice for new or advanced runners, and honest reflections on the joys & the challenges of running. Running is in his soul, as it has been in mine. Great read.
May 04, 2013 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read, especially if you are a runner. The stories that Dugard shares are inspirational, comical, and sometimes emotional. His raw emotion for his cross-country team (he's a HS coach) is inspiring, actually kind of makes wish I had done it back in the day. It also made me a bit nostalgic for those days of organized sports where we actually had coaches and actively trained.
Recommended to me by my boss (and fellow runner), Dugard's book is a collection of essays on how running makes him push to be the best version of himself. Ostensibly a "running book," it's really more than that. Dugard is a writer and a dad and a runner, just trying to figure out life. Running is his metaphor for pushing past limits and obstacles; he needs the visual metaphor ... and being the same kind of runner, I know just what he means.
Dayna Mongelli
Aug 16, 2015 Dayna Mongelli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of essays on running. Read the second to last chapter called Superheroes. It is a lens into my soul. The man cries at the symphony, gets pissed in a running store, then is told by his ever-balanced and knowledgable better half (sound familiar?) to go for a run. Moving and inspirational without the preachiness of similar books in this genre. Dugard gets running and runners, and crafts brilliant sentences about both.
Oct 06, 2011 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to run. It helps me keep in shape, to be sure, but it is also a spiritual journey. When I run, I pray. If I try to pray at home, I am distracted. When I run, I have mental clarity and can really focus. So, first I work out my "issues" and then, I pray. How wonderful to read a book about running from one of my favorite authors who is not afraid to share his own faith. Truly, this is priceless. Thanks for sharing your story, Mr. Dugard :).
Oct 13, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the best books about running that I've read. It talks about the human nature that's brought to running, racing, trails and training. It examines coaching, teamwork, injuries, recovery, motivation and so many other topics. I read this mainly during the taper weeks for my 1st marathon and it reminded me of all the reasons why I love running. A must-read for runners. Good stuff for the mind and soul.
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New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard is the co-author of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus, written with noted television personality Bill O'Reilly. To date, there are more than seven million copies of these books in print.
Mr. Dugard is also the author of the critically lauded memoir To Be A Runner (Rodale, 2011), a series of essays which takes the reader around the wo
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“To be a runner is to learn continual life lessons.” 4 likes
“Just the hill and me. Just the challenge and me. Just my fears an me. Bring it on.” 0 likes
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