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Running the Dream: One Summer Living, Training, and Racing with a Team of World-Class Runners Half My Age

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  420 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Matt Fitzgerald has already made a name for himself in the endurance sport community with books like 80/20 Running, How Bad Do You Want It? and Iron War.  He is an accomplished amateur runner, but if he follows the training, nutrition and lifestyle of an elite runner, just how fast could he go?

He is approaching his mid-forties, so the time to do this is now.  He at last ha
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Pegasus Books
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Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. I don't like the "try something different so I can write a book about it" genre, nor do I particularly love Fitz's writing style in past books, so I was skeptical. But his enthusiasm shines through and makes it such a fun read. There were actually a few times where I caught myself thinking "maybe I should run a marathon...." ..... the horror.... ...more
Brian Atkinson
Dec 27, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun and quick read about an average joe runner training like a pro. Cool idea, entertaining ok, but would have liked to hear a bit more about the actual pros, what he learned from them, the hard parts about being a pro runner, etc.
Lauren Simmons
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I should not have read this book when I am:
1. Kinda busted, and
2. Not sure when races will ever happen again,
But! It’s a good one if you’ve ever wondered what you could achieve as a hobby jogger if you lived the elite running lifestyle (don’t we all wonder that?) or if you follow elite running and the NAZ Elite squad (Faubs 4ever).
Also, in this book the author runs Chicago 2017 which was my first damn marathon and the best damn weekend, so, it’s good. Fitz has some annoying tendencies but the s
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
The author, a sports journalist and a pretty good amateur runner with 40 marathons to his credit, with impressive times in the 2:40s, spent 13 weeks at age 46 training for the Chicago Marathon with a team of elite runners in Flagstaff, Arizona. His quest was to see how good he could become if he had all of the benefits, in terms of training, coaching, physical therapy, nutrition, etc., afforded to professional runners. For those of us who run (even real slow people like me), it was an irresistib ...more
Curtis Bentley
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Running is a supremely self-indulgent sport. Memoirs are also usually self-indulgent efforts. This memoir about running is even more self-centered than most. All of the selfishness, annoying habits, and chronic insecurities of the striving amateur runner are on full display here, and, to my chagrin, I recognized many of them in myself. Oh well...the author is likable, and this book is at times a fun read, but not my favorite running book. I'd give it a solid 3.5. ...more
Nate Hawthorne
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Probably the best of Matt Fitzgerald's books I have read. If you are running your first marathon or your fiftieth, there is wisdom for all. Equal parts sports fantasy camp and true training, it has appeal for all runners. And possibly weekend warrior athletes. Also has great life advice. ...more
Daniel Dao
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kind of a pleasure read. Since COVID has happened, all races have been canceled. All I’ve been doing is running base mileage, and reading Fitzgerald’s journey into Chicago was inspirational. It’s fascinating to see how the pros train, I highly recommend Fauble’s book with Ben Rosario if anyone’s curious into the elite athlete mindset.
Ruby Cumming
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this book pretty much in one sitting today, and I'm leaving the book feeling very inspired. It does make you want to go for a run in a scenic place right away, and also kinda makes you feel like dreaming big!
Like, why not set out to see how fit you can possibly become.. or spend a summer chasing your dreams, even if you are forty six?
A great book for runners. I liked his personal photo album at the end too, it put faces to the names of the elite runners you hear about through the book.
Karin Buchholz
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really liked it. I listened to it while I was running and it was so inspiring and motivating.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head again! I not only want to be Matt Fitzgerald; I could in a just world have been Matt Fitzgerald. Consider.....

(a) the first mile he ever ran (p. 27) was alongside his Dad, in a race I was in
(b) his PR's going into this midlife adventure were slightly better or slightly worse than mine, depending on distance;
(c) he lost a little weight during his summer of high-altitude training with a pro team (NAZ Elite in Flagstaff), down to EXACTLY the same weight as
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I gave "Running the Dream" five stars because I couldn't put the damned thing down. I read it over one weekend and skipped my Monday morning run because I stayed up late Sunday night finishing it. The book probably isn't for everyone, but it's not going to find the wrong audience anyway. Readers already know Matt Fitzgerald is a runner who writes about serious running topics. I'd say he's most interested in squeezing additional performance out of runners who are already high performers. One way ...more
Steve Nelson
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
There are good parts to this book but it left me wanting more—especially more information on the training. He gets in great shape and the descriptions of the workouts are very well written but he never explains how he got in the shape to do these workouts. Maybe other readers wouldn’t be interested in weekly mileage, runs per week, and all that, but I wanted to know more about that than the whiteness of one of the pro runner’s teeth (a detail brought up many times).

I also had questions about Fit
John Spiller
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, really. I'm rounding up.

Matt Fitzgerald, a 2:41 PR marathoner, embeds with the NAZ elite training group in Flagstaff, Arizona for three months in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. He hopes that by emulating the training of world-class runners he can possibly maximize his potential, albeit his potential in his mid-40's.

As far as running books go, this is fairly entertaining, and even serious runners will find things of interest. From time to time, Fitzgerald will detail specific w
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, this is a story of a runner living out a fantasy of being a pro athlete. But
as a skilled writer, the author richly and engagingly describes the passion that he and other runners possess. Through this lens, we have a view to the thrill of pursuing this passion with others who, through a combination of physical & mental ability and a life circumstances, can singularly focus on running because it’s their job.
I am not a runner – not even really a sports enthusiast – but what I appr
Peter Andersson
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A couple of years back Matt Fitzgerald the author came close to being a two trick pony (albeit a very good one) with every other book being about new endurance science, and the onces in-between those about nutrition science. He's been struggling a bit to broaden his repertoire since then, and I'm not sure it's possible to write a follow-up book like this one turning him into a three trick pony, but at least it's his third best book so far, IMHO only falling behind "Run: The Mind-Body Method of R ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Like my issue with a lot of documentaries, I feel like this book did not quite live up to its subject matter. The author is clearly a talented and devoted runner and is well-equipped to discuss those aspects of the book. However, when discussing people and relationships, it all kind of fell apart for me. For example, sitting on a plane next to Feyisa Lelila, the author professes he is entirely uninterested in Lelila's political activism and only interested in him as a runner, and goes back to pr ...more
Chip Scarinzi
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a competitive runner myself, I've always wondered about the training regimen of the elite. Fitzgerald takes the reader behind the scenes with the NAZ Elite running team, within which he was embedded ahead of his own attempt at a Chicago Marathon PR. A well-written book, I was a little disappointed that author didn't go a bit deeper into the workouts themselves and instead spent a considerable amount of time focusing on how he always ran faster than the interval splits and pacing the team coac ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Matt Fitzgerald is a gifted long distance runner who likes to portray himself as a middle age average runner, but with results that put him at the top 1% of competitive runners according to When Fitzgerald signs up for three months of elite level training, fun ensues and Fitzgerald's results improve. With the difference in training between professionals and gifted amateurs almost non-existence in running, you have to wonder whether Matt's results are due ...more
Aug 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: running-books
An enjoyable look at what an extended period of training with running's elite professionals was like for one older, non-elite runner (the author). Matt Fitzgerald went into this with the big goal of setting a marathon personal best at the age of 47, and this gives the narrative real interest and urgency. My only quibble was that Fitzgerald's frequent self-deprecation was sometimes a little cringy (dude, you're a decent runner yourself! give yourself some credit! most of us in your situation coul ...more
This book came out less than a month ago. I was given it by a dear friend who is also a fellow runner. Andy and I run together every now and then and I thank him for this book.
The book takes the style of a diary using a sequence of a count down until the Chicago marathon. I particularly liked it more towards the end than the first half. It was a nice read. Gives you an idea of the running teams culture and how the stakes are high for so many professional runners over things than can sometimes b
Mike Dennisuk
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this on audiobook and I loved it! Matt Fitzgerald has written a number of books on running and fitness. This is by far the most personal and entertaining. Matt travels to Flagstaff to train with Ben Rosario and the Northern Arizona Elite racing team. He walks us through the ups and downs of training. His quest is a sub 2:40 at the Chicago Marathon. This is 5 stars for me,being a former runner (more of a shuffler now), it hits home in so many ways. A DELIGHT!
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: running
This one is by far one of the best non-instructional books about running that I've read in a long time. Still, there's plenty of great running advice packed in the form of stories about workouts and the lifestyle of the elites.

So, Matt Fitzgerald gets the chance of a lifetime: spend three months living and training with the world-class runners of the Hoka Northern Arizona Elite (NAZ Elite) team in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. A 2:44 marathoner himself, Fitzgerald wants to find out if he
Mert Topcu
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you are into running and especially training and marathons, I highly suggest this unique story from a veteran writer-runner fake pro runner (as he calls himself throughout this book), Matt Fitzgerald.

Missing one start out of five is for the missed opportunity to have a second or third sub story line(s) around one or two pro-runners as well as a slightly smoother writing imho.

If you are training for a marathon or half for that matter, you will find this book inspiring too.
Louise Peterson
Feb 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Okay I’m just jealous of this guy. I’d love to go train with the pros for a summer, so was initially pretty intrigued by the story. Didn’t really learn anything new though and I don’t find Matt to be particularly inspiring. Overall enjoyed reading, but can’t give this more than 3 stars because it’s inherently a pretty selfish endeavor and inevitably the book reflects that. Might go take Steph Bruce’s running camp to hear about the NAZ Elite folks.
Matthew Barmack
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author lives out the fantasy of every middle-aged, injured endurance athlete to regain or surpass the fitness of his youth by training like a pro. For me, a compelling story even if poorly written, but this book is well written. I especially appreciated the author's self-deprecating sense of humor. ...more
Amber Victoria Finlay
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I thought it might touch more on the day to day workouts, but maybe that’s what us hobby joggers expect :) Following a lot of pros on social media, there weren’t any surprises about the process in the book, but it was a fun read to follow Matt’s journey as he aimed for a marathon PR in his mid-40s.
Douglas Baker
A little too self indulgent and petty in these times, for me. Maybe just my current mindset, but I couldn't get past the author's self-importance and seemingly fake humbleness. Great achievements, sure, but no deference or humility. I just couldn't bring myself to care about anyone in this story, especially the author and his "plight"... ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fitzgerald delivers the goal: Inspire average, aging runners that they’re able to get more than they may believe out of running. He also has some nice anecdotes to living life to the fullest extent possible.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but his occasionally poor (and unnecessary)one-liners, and the overall writing left it short of 5-star. 4.5!
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Witty, poignant, and a little profound as well. For me, there were a few too many characters to keep track of, but the main ones are developed quite well for a book mainly about running. Fitzgerald is a great writer and runner, and I'll probably try reading some of his other books as well. ...more
Missie Jacobson
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: running-related
My favorite or all of Matt's books so far. While I loved life as a marathon...that subject was hard. Running the dream was fun and gave me plenty of smiles! I did get some tears from the pep talk jason gave. I think I need that post card. Also maybe my best running is still to come too. ...more
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Matt Fitzgerald is the author of numerous books on sports history and endurance sports. He has enjoyed unprecedented access to professional endurance athletes over the course of his career. His best-sellers include Racing Weight and Brain Training for Runners. He has also written extensively for Triathlete, Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Outside, Runner's World, Bicycling, Competitor, and countless ...more

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