Book Review: In it for the Long Run
In It for the Long Run: Breaking records and getting FKT
If you’ve paid even the slightest bit of attention to trail and long distance running news over the last few years, then it is highly likely you have heard the name Damian Hall. Coming, it seemed, out of nowhere, he has risen to the top of the UK and European ultra running scene over the past decade, competing, winning and smashing some long standing records along the way.
In It for the Long Run is essentially the story of how that journey started, and how it has continued to gain momentum, culminating (this chapter at least) in a Pennine Way FKT during the lockdown of 2020. However, I suspect that there is plenty more to come from Mr Hall – if this book has given me one insight into his brain it’s that he isn’t going to consider himself done just because he’s ticked off his to do list!
So, there are several things I want from a biographical running book. I have many on my shelf that I have never finished because they can’t give me the story I need to read. I need to feel inspired by the realism of the tales, to be able to picture myself in the same situation, race, life. I need to think “Well he/she is a regular human being too, so why shouldn’t I be able to have a go at that?”.
I don’t hold much stock with the stories where an athlete gives up everything and lives in a van to focus solely on their running, because I can’t do that. I have a child, a boyfriend, a job, a mortgage and two exceptionally needy cats to think about. Plus I quite like having a proper shower.
In It for the Long Run ticks all those real life boxes for me, plus there is a good amount of childish, and always on point, humour in it. I lost count of the number of times I snorted out loud whilst reading this book, often at things which, taken out of context, would not seem all that funny. But that’s what I mean about the realism, being able to put yourself in someone’s shoes and laughing because that’s exactly what you would have done too.
There are stories of adventure, interspersed with reminders that Damian has done all of these races and FKTs while working a normal job and supporting a family. To be sure, he has an EXCEPTIONALLY understanding wife, but still, we can give him some credit for being a functional adult :D
This is a story of a lifelong journey to becoming an ultra runner, a journey which I suspect is still very much ongoing. It is a humorous reminder that the path to find your purpose – literal or metaphorical – is never straight and often littered with lumps and bumps that are there to be overcome.
Some of the most inspiring parts of the book, for me, are when Hall admits just how much he has messed up some races and runs over the years. Often social media shows us only the positive, bright, sparkly bits of life that a person chooses to show, so it is refreshing to see a successful athlete hold their hands up and say ‘yep, screwed that up, but still made progress’.
In It for the Long Run has inspired me to want more from, and do more with, my running. I will never want to run the Pennine Way in midwinter, or complete a sub-24 hour Bob Graham, but that isn’t the point. Hall, throughout the book, shows that no matter what type of running you want to get better at, progress is made by turning up and getting stuck in, even, and perhaps especially, when you don’t feel like it. We won’t all get to the point of breaking records, but we can all get to the point a little beyond where we are now, then do it again tomorrow.
And if all of this has made you think that In It for the Long Run needs to be the next book on your reading list, then we have one more thing to make it even sweeter! The lovely folk at Vertebrate Publishing have given us a voucher code to pass on to you which will give you a cracking 25% off RRP, and we get a small amount from each sale too.
Here’s the details:
The voucher code below is valid for purchases of In It for the Long Run, Broken (which Jon will be reviewing next month) and Peak District Trail Running directly from v-publishing.co.uk until 31st August 2021. Simply click the book link you want to buy and input the code RIVELIN25 at the checkout.
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