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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 ·  771 Ratings  ·  104 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 runni
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Hardcover, 238 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Rodale Books (first published May 4th 2011)
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Jill
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Jess Dollar
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Christopher
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
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.
Mkmcvey2
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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Erin
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aaron Maurer
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kim
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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? :)
Lynette
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good motivator to get up and run :)
Genie
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a fun read for me because I related to so much of what Martin Dugard says about running.
Mitchell Stenoien
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
For someone who has run competitively for about a decade (half of my life). It surprising how little I've reflected on what running means to me. I've spent so long chasing PR's and the guys in front of me, that I forget to just take off the watch and enjoy it. I read the book in no more than a couple of days, as it was very to read. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I recommend something like it to anyone that finds themselves in a running funk.
G Kahuna
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Was reaching a low point in my own running. This book really helped pick me up and gave me some much needed inspiration. Probably not a good read for non-runners. Dugard is into too much trail running for my personal taste, but every runner is different.
Bskidmore
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I think anyone who runs would appreciate this book. A fast, fun, playful read.
Darren
Mar 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Rubbish. Started really good then it lost it.
Monica
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoyed this book

I could totally relate to this book. I loved the humor. Makes me wish I could coach and be the sunshine for future runners and life lessons.
Shane
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very enertaining and somewhat educational.
Melissa
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Clark Goble
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
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Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Totally elevating. Even his descriptions of bloody, chafing thighs fail to demotivate. He talks of his own running, his coaching, and his racing with equal intensity. This is clearly a runner who runs because...well...because he runs.

He's run many marathons and other races in his life, but at some point he realized it was time to reconsider--
When would crossing the finish line of yet another superhuman test of endurance make me feel complete? A still, small voice in my head reminded me that the
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Ashley
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Naseem
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Shannon
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Michele
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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Helen Dunn
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Anthony
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Renee Boucher
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Joseph
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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Amanda
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Catherine Gillespie
Jan 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fitness, balance
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}
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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.” 8 likes
“Just the hill and me. Just the challenge and me. Just my fears an me. Bring it on.” 0 likes
More quotes…