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The Incomplete Book of Running

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,186 ratings  ·  453 reviews
“Sagal has created a new genre—the five-minute-mile memoir. Combining commentary and reflection about running with a deeply felt personal story, this book is winning, smart, honest, and affecting. Whether you are a runner or not, it will move you.” —Susan Orlean

In the midpoint of life, I found myself lost, in a dark place. So I tried to figure out exactly how many miles
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Simon & Schuster
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Ron I can't think of any age inappropriate material in this book. Peter Sagal is tasteful and uses his voice to promote progressive and uplifting values.…moreI can't think of any age inappropriate material in this book. Peter Sagal is tasteful and uses his voice to promote progressive and uplifting values. There is some adult language, but it's never used inappropriately or insensitively.

As he covers his running motivations as a young person - I think it could be a source of inspiration! It is written from the perspective of a middle-age man who has experienced some all-too-common hardship, so if a young reader maintains their interest - they could get a leg up on life's challenges.

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Roy Lotz
UPDATE: I ran the half-marathon today, with a time of 2 hours and five minutes—probably the best run I've ever done. And all thanks to Peter Sagal!

And here is my write-up of the experience:
Of all the people on the face of this green earth, I never thought I would be the one reviewing this book. Indeed, I began this year by writing a blog post about my new year’s resolutions, confidently predicting that, come what may, I would not begin to
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Lauren Kay
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Here are some people I think should definitely write books on running:

* Anyone who has won an international marathon, half marathon, or qualified for the Olympics
* That nurse who came in second place in the Boston Marathon last year
* Runners with disabilities who have run marathons

Not on this list?
* Middle-aged men who really, totally, definitely would have won that local 5k that one time but had to stop to take a dump (The Incomplete Book of Running, page 107)

Reading the Incomplete Book of
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Doug Gordon
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 to
Ron S
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running, memoir
A mid-life memoir you needn't be a runner to enjoy.
Beth Jusino
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.
Jamey Bradbury
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Susan Schaefer
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only problem with this book is that it was over too soon. I really wanted a few hundred more pages. It was wonderful for me to get a glimpse inside the mind of someone who feels about running the same way I do.
Peter Derk
I'm a secret runner. Maybe not "secret, secret," but it's not something I like to talk about much. Because I think it's boring. Not just for other people, but for me.

I've had my personal successes in running that I'm happy with. And I do think it's been a life-changing thing for me. But I don't know how to talk about it in such a way that I find it interesting.

This book had some definite highs. Mostly when Peter Sagal wasn't talking a ton about times, splits, training, etc. A lifetime of running
Jan Van Bruaene
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. I enjoy both Peter Sagal's NPR show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, and running, so I feel like I'm within the target demographic for this book. It is more about Peter Sagal than it is about running; though it's almost entirely about Peter Sagal running, it's really about him getting through mental health issues and middle age... while running. As he mentions early on, talking about running is incomprehensibly boring to non-runners but endlessly diverting to runners, and any topic, no ...more
Grant Den Herder
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!
Regina Bradley
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a big fan of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and of running memoirs so I enjoyed this. I’m glad that I read this post-marathon because he makes them sound painful (which is accurate). Enjoyed how he framed his running as way of coping with his divorce and depression, and liked his part at end about running being a “habit of hope”. One weird bit - he volunteers to escort visually impaired runners in races, which is admirable, but he makes so many not funny and dumb jokes about them - it’s very off ...more
If you are reading this as a training manual for running, take a second look at the title. Sagal's wry sense of humor comes through, but I wouldn't take this as the almanac for running a marathon.

I found the narrative a bit disjointed at times. Sagal would be running one marathon and then jump back to a previous marathon and then jump forward again. This time jump confused me more than once. But, I got it: he ran marathons and it was a bitch to accomplish.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Would
Holdon Son
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was sweet. Certainly inspired me to start exponentially more than Murakami did.

'Reading' this, the memoir of a radio guy, via audiobook was definitely the right choice.
I love Peter Sagel and I love running so this was a no brainer. He was witty as ever, but was surprisingly sweet and vulnerable in parts, too.
Liesl Gibson
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Had no idea about the topic (aside from running, obviously), but found it very timely to my present life. And maybe, after finishing it, I'll be a little more diligent in my own running. But I'm still a jogger. No marathons, no races for me, doesn't matter what you say.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vulnerable and made me want to run marathons. Should prob have a trigger warning about dieting.
Jacques Bezuidenhout
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
Allison Sauntry
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio because of course you listen when Peter Sagal is narrating. I loved it. It's got me running again which is huge. But also thinking a lot about mortality and life and how we adapt to face challenges and second chances and serving others. It was great.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Runner or not, this book will probably make you laugh and cry simultaneously.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
There are many books on running-as-a-metaphor-for-life. This isn't one of them (though it wants to be)

I like Peter Sagal on "Wait, Wait ... Don't tell me" and I really wanted to like this book. But there's a reason it took me from April 2019 to Feb 2020 to finish a measly 208 pages: it's a slog.

Perhaps it's on purpose. Perhaps it's meant to mimic the patience you need to exhibit and the pain you need to endure to finish a marathon. But I doubt it's deliberate or that deep. Nothing about this
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I credit Peter Sagal's radio show on NPR, Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! for keeping me connected to the United States while I was living in Japan 2011-2014, getting me through lonely Sundays in a small coastal town with nothing for the average twenty-something (let alone a foreign one) to do and long airplane trips alike.

This was a great read, especially if you're already a fan of Sagal's - it's got all of his wry, self-deprecating wit and charm, all of his fluidity with the English language. I
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is this a must-read for runners? No. Does it at least contain useful information about running? Not really. Is this a generic memoir with a focus on the topic of running? Exactly. To be honest, that's exactly what I signed up for, so I was far from disappointed. It's a light read with some passable humour about a semi-famous person going through a divorce and midlife crisis and deciding that running is a way to deal with those things.

The book was written competently enough and while the jokes
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of 'Peter Sagal's' weekly comedy-show on NPR (National Public Radio) which airs every Saturday all across USA.
And actually dread the day, he had to retire of that show, as his retirement may doom this excellent weekly parody show, in which Peter comes out as this extremely funny, talented anchor who manages to keep his listeners (this is a radio show) in splits.
I also got a rare opportunity to see one of his shows in real life in NY City and there I got a first hand account of the
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