Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Incomplete Book of Running” as Want to Read:
The Incomplete Book of Running
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Incomplete Book of Running

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  941 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s beloved show Wait Wait..Don’t Tell Me and a popular columnist for Runner’s World, shares his insightful and entertaining look at life and running that explores the transformative power of the sport.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Simon Schuster
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Incomplete Book of Running, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Melissa Mannon As a young adult librarian, I do not think this is a good book for an eleven year old.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
4 stars for the running parts. 2 stars for the frankly off-putting way Sagal writes about his ex-wife and daughters, as well as pretty much all other women (except for his current wife - she seemed like an actual human being). I get that he was also processing his divorce and the aftermath, I just found it really weird. Averaging out = 3 stars.
Van Reese
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a long time runner, I was very pleased to win this book in a give away (thank you Simon & Shuster). The only negative, I felt, was that he talks about his divorce; a lot. It was painful, so O.K. We will let it go. Most of the book was, surprise, actually about running. I felt that I could relate well with his running experiences, and found we had much in common. My dad also ran and kind of influenced me getting started running (though I never made fun of him); I also asked for real runnin ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I love the saying he recounted: if you can't play sports, run. If you can't run, run long. I can relate.

I'm a fan of Wait Wait and thought this book was entertaining. Peter Sagal talks about his running history, his meshugas about his weight, and his midlife crisis leading to more running and eventual divorce. Spoiler alert, a man got remarried quickly after a divorce. What else is new?

I did feel for him. He talks about his depression, how he felt he failed as a husband and a father.

He also ca
Doug Gordon
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I'm a runner and also a fan of "Wait, Wait", so I really expected to enjoy this book a lot, but would find it hard to recommend to either a runner or non-runner. Mainly, I thought it would be mostly about running with a lot of humorous anecdotes, but instead it was more of a personal memoir that delved a bit too far into the author's personal life and problems, which he dwelt on a bit too much in my opinion.

The book also had the feel of being a bit rushed to print and could have used a bit more
Ron S
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running, memoir
A mid-life memoir you needn't be a runner to enjoy.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vulnerable and made me want to run marathons. Should prob have a trigger warning about dieting.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, wry and charming! I love Peter Sagal, not only from Wait, Wait but also his GoT recaps with Nerdette. I’m also glad to know that he is someone who can laugh at himself while singing along to a jingle stating that he’s the worst. 😂

I often have a hard time relating to running books because my experience is not that of a 3:05 marathon. But Sagal recognizes that and after all, this is *his experience. But there is a line (that I’m badly paraphrasing) which says that the only proper response t
Jan Van Bruaene
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health
I didn't know what to expect about this book. I only know about Peter Sagal from NPR Wait Wait Don't Tell me Show. And I heard he co-wrote the less than stellar movie Dirty Dancing Havana Nights.

He wrote a book about running? What does Peter Sagal know about running?
It turns out he knows quite a bit about it, and has a great number high paced races to show for it.

I expected a funny and witty book. It is not. It is an honest and often raw story about the running part of his life.

I could not p
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Picked up this book based on it being a running book. Not knowing the author or his shows.

Yes most of the book is centred around running, but it ended up being more of a personal / mid-life memoir of Peter. It is plainly put about Life. And Life happens. Each of us have our own things that happen during life, and we cope in certain ways.

This book is not about someone constantly succeeding, actually it is with about someone mostly struggling in situations, and dealing with it.

I did like the runni
Carina Aleckson
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had heard Peter’s version of the first chapter on the Moth. The book was good (even if the nutrition chapter felt like I’d suddenly picked up In Defense of Food again by mistake). Like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—a book about writing—it’s about much more of life than merely its stated topic. Hidden throughout are Sagal’s insights about life. It almost makes me want to start running again—almost.
Jamey Bradbury
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Peter Sagal's slim memoir about running through the turmoil of his own life and the turmoil of the world at large is entertaining and perfectly captures the radio host's voice and sensibility. I was surprised at how candid he was about the bitterness of his divorce, but it was kind of refreshing. As an amateur runner, he still has great advice to offer other amateurs or wannabes.
Nate Hawthorne
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not a how to book, but I learned a lot anyway. I have read some of his articles in Runner's World and also listened to him on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me. He has a comfortable, casual way of writing that is completely accessible. There are some good stories and motivational quotes. It is a quick read and worth every moment.
Allison Sauntry
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny memoir that I’d recommend to any runner (especially if you are a Wait Wait fan!) It’s a really fast read — I started and finished it over Christmas Eve/Day, even with a good bit of that time consumed with family parties! As someone who is running the 2019 Boston Marathon, I also enjoyed reading about his Boston experiences.
Grant Den Herder
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I went into this one thinking it would be a humorous take on running; instead, Peter Sagal takes us through all of the highs and lows of life and how running has made an impact through it all.

Emotional and hilarious. This book makes me want to be a more mindful person, not just a more mindful runner. I would highly recommend!
Michael Platt
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. Great book on running and life in general.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I want to be Peter Sagal’s running buddy. A funny, poignant meditation on aging, exercise and love. Loved it.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Have a whole new respect for this man and a whole new respect for runners, even myself.
Savil Srivastava
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A fun, quick meditation on running and life. If you can, get the audiobook. Peter Sagal works in radio and has a hilarious radio voice!
Beth Jusino
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
So... I wanted to like this book. I wanted it to make me want to run again. It didn't. (Sorry, Peter Sagal. I really like your radio show and wanted to like this book.)

Sagal bookends his work with great stories about the Boston Marathon, both on the day of the terrorist bombing and the following year. They're about the relationships among runners, and between runners and their bodies, and between human beings and competition. And those are great.

But the about being middle aged. Ther
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Got to hear Sagal give a book talk at Sixth and I about this book and it was lovely. This is a nice, short book about how running has changed his life for the better. Also nice shout out to my buddy Bobby Gill who started Cupid’s Undie Run! I think I introduced the two on twitter when I saw Sagal tweet that he was running the race!
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not a runner nor do I aspire to be one, but I still found plenty of inspiration in this book. Mostly I'm a fan of Peter and Wait Wait! Don't Tell Me! but I've also gotten to know a little bit about Peter's off-radio life through Twitter, his prior book (The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things), and some of his columns for Runner's World. He's a smart guy, we have some people in common, and I enjoy absorbing his writing.

This book was more interesting and engaging than The Book of Vice. It was m
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
[Audiobook Review] Why wouldn't I listen to Peter Sagal's lovely voice narrate this humorous yet emotionally poignant book?! A big recommendation to everyone considering the audiobook - it is, in my opinion, the best way to experience Sagal's radio announcer persona, voice, and comedy. Truth be told, I had no idea what to expect from this memoir. Sagal is a well known comedian from NPR and one I've been listening to for over a decade. I expected more comedy than drama. However, I was pleasantly ...more
Anthony Connolly
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
In 2013 when the Boston Marathon bombs went off NPR news show host Peter Sagal (Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, which I loathe) just finished the race and was 100 yards from the explosions. The terrorist strike serves as the loose epicenter of Sagal’s The Incomplete Guide to Running, a mildly entertaining book. The title riffs off of Jim Fixx’s running phenom book The Complete Guide to Running which helped usher in America’s love affair with running in the 1980s. Sagan’s book is not a running guide; ...more
Jan Thullen
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Audio: Audible

I won a 5k once. It was an informal Weight Watchers run/walk, and I was the only one doing any running. My prize was a certificate for free bagels every month for a year, which seemed like a paramedic pushing you into traffic.

I’ve run/walked a few half marathons, hours behind my daughters who run fast and easily. The start of races is so energizing, but then you need to keep going, watching people effortlessly pass while it feels like chug, chug, wheeze, WTF.

I was usually in the
Regina Bradley
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
“But the lesson and practice of running is again, a faith in the possibility of positive change. That, if you run enough miles, with enough dedication and the right kind of mindset, if you accept the limitations of what’s possible but refuse to accept the rutted path of what’s painless, if you keep at it, if you keep going, you can become what it was you were meant to be.”

Peter tells a great story and tells many in this short memoir. Having recently ran the California International Marathon and
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read the book on a Saturday, punctuating my couch-potato-ness with a bunch of fast walks--and nary a run, having retired from running a couple of years ago.

Thoroughly entertaining! Sagal mentions at one point that he’s “funny by profession." True. Also very honest about his repeated struggles with his weight and with a divorce that happened about the time of this memoir. I especially liked hearing how running changed his outlook during his teens, 30s, and the time of the book. Other favorite b
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, sports
If you need anymore convincing that exercise almost always helps with emotions, listen to this. Peter Sagal has a great radio voice (of course) and he's a comedian so he applies those things to this discussion of how running has helped him weather his family falling apart and a difficult divorce as well as doing his best to keep his weight off. The book is a wee bit repetitive - there are a couple of times where he urges the listener to take out their earbuds to run (I like to run with mine if I ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Conflicted on this one.

I didn't find the running part inspirational, mostly because I will never be the runner Sagal is. I wanted to hear from Drew Carey (who Sagal offhandedly mentions has run a 4.5 hour marathon) instead of the 3 hour Sagal.

The personal bits were more interesting, but Sagal's insistence on leaving out details (which I totally understand!) made the book less compelling.

It did force me to examine some of my own prejudices though. Initially, knowing that Sagal has a high-profi
Melissa Mannon
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Like many others here, I wanted to love this book. I have been a competitive runner for decades. I also really enjoy Peter Sagal and I listen to Wait, Wait every weekend. The parts I appreciated the most about this book were his stories about running as a volunteer with the blind. I think this topic could have been a whole book in itself and the writing would have been much stronger with this focus. I agree with others that the relationship part of this book is incongruous with the running part ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
“Perhaps you would like to start running. You never have tried before, or you did and you hated it, and now you wonder how to begin moving in a way that will keep you going. Get up. Start. Go. Move. Take a rusty first step, like the Tin Man. You will squeak. Go.” 0 likes
More quotes…