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Why We Run Paperback – 14 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848541767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848541764
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

There is much to enjoy in this erudite, literary memoir (Observer)

Where the book truly excels is in its depiction of Harvie's internal landscape. He largely shuns training tips and inspirational advice in favour of a true memoirist's tone, exploring the reasons why he runs - grief, ambition, boredom - with an almost brutal honesty. These passages are as moving as they are illuminating . . . this is a memoir for anyone who has ever dreamed about reaching the outer limits of what they're capable of and, as such, it should be enjoyed by an audience far wider than just those who head home this evening wearing a medal (Independent on Sunday)

Harvie writes intricately on how such a limit-busting endeavour (the Sparthalon) made him understand himself, his journey into adulthood and his family (Metro)

Every runner has a story, and Robin Harvie's is one of the most remarkable I've ever encountered. Why We Run is brilliantly written, deeply emotional, raw and honest. Robin scrapes away the superficial dermis and offers a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of a long-distance runner (Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathoner and NY Times bestselling author)

An astonishing memoir--wholly unlike any other writing about 'running' and 'obsession' that I have encountered. It is both eloquent and rawly emotional--candid to the point of pain, illuminating, and finally very touching. It will make all who read it, who are drawn to running, feel stirrings of true excitement, if just a bit tinged with dread! For Robin Harvie is a 'real' runner--and a 'real' writer, and though competition is not the point, as the memoirist makes clear, in this case he is an uncontested winner.' (Joyce Carol Oates)

An intensely personal journey, woven with memoir, philosophy, history and pain, Robin Harvie's debut is by turns compulsive, challenging and ultimately rewarding--a magnificent literary marathon in itself (Philip Hoare)

His journey is undeniably a compelling one (Independent)

'Harvie tells many more fascinating stories in this vein about everything from the suicidally dedicated marathon monks of Mount Hiel in Japan, whose initiation requires them to run a marathon a day for 100 days, to the danger of modern trainers' (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

One man's obsession with running

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Weston on 2 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback
It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the style of writing but I found myself enjoying the book. I've seen that the book has had low stars on the reviews on Amazon but I tend to think that if people have a strong opinion they are more likely to leave reviews. There are probably a lot of people out there that have read the book, would have rated it a 4 or 3 but just haven't because their view isn't that strong.

Amongst other things I liked about the book is the fact that it included some history of running which meant I also learnt a lot about running. It also provoked me to think about why I run and what I think about when I run. The answers are not that complicated for me but thankfully Robin Harvie is a much deeper thinker and so it's a good read.

There are not many books I keep hold of to read again but I have kept this one and will read it again so for me it deserves a 4* review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. O. Squintani on 28 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
..."we" being those who've similarly taken to the roads at crazy hours, run whilst the world around us slept, got lost in the run and its rhythm...
...admittedly the majority of the population think we're mad, but - we understand each other :-)
The Spartathlon provides the backdrop to a story that is about so much more than the running. I particularly empathised with how, for all the miles of solitude, when it came to the main event Robin found himself longing for companionship. It needn't involve conversation: just sharing a few miles with a couple of Finns (names unknown) would have sufficed. It's a theme that most runners will instantly appreciate: we run alone but, thanks to that unspoken understanding, we secretly enjoy sharing the journey with fellow passengers...
I only became a runner a year ago and, quite frankly, before then I would have been bemused by a lot (but not all) of what Robin recounts here. But for anyone who's lost themselves, even if just once, even if only briefly, in the rhythm of the run... this will resound quite beautifully.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jurasource on 4 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book, and don't agree with the negative reviews on here. Perhaps because I read it as a mixture of a biography (of a short period in the authors life) and a history book.

The sections on the history of running, literary and cultural references were interesting, and I thought made you get to know Robin a little.

I read a lot of running books, a lot of them are very technical and dry, this was a much lighter book and it made for a pleasant and contemplative read.

It would have been nice to hear a bit more about the actual Spartathalon race, but then the story is really about the lead up to it.

One thing I didn't like, is that a seed has been planted in my mind. I recently ran the 145 mile Grand Union Canal race in the UK, and swore that was my last long race ever. My wife will not be happy...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank on 6 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
It skips about a lot dipping into running history, literature, geography and memoir and in that sense unlike most books people probably expect when they pick up a book about running. The historical and literary threads are nicely woven, kind of like Robert Macfarlane's work, which is a really interesting and credible approach. The memoir sections can feel a little indulgent, but... it's a memoir and the ending is a bit loose, but overall an enjoyable read. Couple of things did spring to mind 1) the astonishing patience of the author's (grieving) wife having her husband banging out 100 mile weeks with double marathons at the weekend and an ultra every 3 weeks. She must *really* love that guy. and 2) Not getting injured with that volume of training.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rosie on 16 July 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a great mixture between one runner's own story and the philosophy behind running. Anyone who runs for pleasure, whether it's 5km or 50km, should read this book. A really inspirational read that helped me to get through a very tough race!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ScottyHonest on 15 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a hard book to get into at first but do stick with it for a chapter or two and you really get into it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Janda on 7 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read book for any runner. Very emotional at times too and relatable to any runner of any distance.
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Format: Paperback
I am a runner, although nothing like these guys who take on the ultra's.

When I pick up a running book I am looking for an interesting read, to see how ordinary people overcome extreme challenges and also to understand a little more about them as people and what makes them tick. This book had all of that, it is certainly one of the better running books I have ever picked up. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes along the way and you do get a flavour of the history or marathon/ultra running.

I found his final run heart wrenching. In many ways I would have liked to read more about it, but I believe the book is aimed more at the preparation and training.

It is a shame that there are a few poor reviews, I can only imagine the style does not appeal to everyone. I am not a person that bothers to write many reviews ... but felt Robin Harvie deserves 5 stars for his amazing book.
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