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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

on 22 June 2014
Paula Radcliffe is an amazing athlete, a great ambassador for the sport, and after reading this book a great person. The problem I have is with her writing style, it did not suit me as a reader. I wanted to give this book 3 1/2 stars, but because of the many positives I took away from her story, her trials and tribulations, I decided to round it up rather than down.

Paula is one those people who found early no what her passion in life is early on. Running. She also had the ability, means, and ambition to follow it. She worked very hard not only to get as good as she did in running but also to give herself options for life after running, or if she could not follow running as career.

The negitive I have about the book as I said is the writing style. Most chapters are about a year in review. She start with the main point of that year, usually the important race of that year or improvements of that year. She takes us almost up to the starting line, but then backtracks to earlier in the year, or fast forwards to the lessons she learned from this race or experience. I kept thinking I must have missed something till I kept reading and reailised this was just the way the book was written. This going back and forward and looping of the chapters I just found infuriating and harder to read.

The positives messages in the book do outweigh the negatives. The book is honest to a fault, in some cases even giving too much information. An example is in some chapters we even know the colour of her stools, and what to do if you need to go in the middle of a race. I completely agree with Paula's stance on bring more attention to the issue of drug cheats, and dopers. Though her moral high ground on playing dirty does not stretch to competing against her brother. One of the messages Paula gets across is the that athletes are not machine they are as prone, or because of the high intensity of their training, even more prone to injuries than the rest of us. For athletes there is an important message about the thin line between ignoring the voices telling you to stop and keep going, and recognising the voices of knowing something is wrong and stopping before doing permanent damage to yourself. Also how you deal things that have gone wrong. How you carry on and learn from these is what is the difference an athlete, an elite athlete and a champion.

She gives her side of the story of Athens 2004. For anyone who has never done a marathon before they are 26.2 miles. The reason for this is a roman soldier ran that distance from his base to Rome to warn them of an attack. He delivered his message then droped dead from exertion. To honour him this the marathon was created. Running the distance is one thing dealing with the after effects is another. This does not even take into account countless miles one needs to run to be fit enough to do this distance. I think this needs to be remembered when reading this particular chapter. Then imagine attempting something like this at a professional pace at much less that 100%.

Great stroy, great person, great athlete, the book is just let down slightly by the writing.
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on 20 August 2012
An honest and down-to-earth account of her life so far, from childhood, to the heartache of Athens. I really like and appreciate how this account hasn't been written as a 'novel' - like a lot autobiographies are. It's simply about her experiences and career as it happened. No sparkly bits added in for the sake of it. Radcliffe talks from the heart about the lows of her career as well as the glorious highs. Her commitment and work-ethic are admirable and the number of countries that running took her is amazing. Running is clearly her number one passion, reading Radcliffe's autobiography has inspired me to start running again with my local cross-country team. A great read from a world-class athlete.
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on 15 April 2017
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on 9 June 2017
The book is just amazing . Im glad that i bought it
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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2004
OK, I'll start by saying that I'm a runner myself and a fan of Paula's (although I'm not a die-hard, member-of-the-church-of-PR kinda fan).
I found it great to read about her childhood and her background as a runner - she really was the underdog for quite some time! Getting a (tiny) glimpse into her training schedule also interested me (for obvious reasons), and also the ice-baths, nutrition, etc. But she clearly adores running.
She seems to have suffered countless injuries. This is probably common in elite athletes, but reading about how often they get them makes you wonder how fit these people really are! I mean, these professional runners are plagued with injuries, while the average overweight middle-aged person manages just fine!
Paula also, obviously, talks in detail about Athens and how it all went wrong. It's pretty upsetting to read - but it was upsetting to watch, too.
She also has a great, not-too-detailing writing style.
I liked it.
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on 31 May 2012
As a (former, now injured!) runner, I've often argued with people that Paula Radcliffe is Britain's greatest-ever sports person - check out her list of World Records at a wide range of distances if you can't believe that, her achievements are stunning. Her reputation with the general public has suffered because she failed at the Olympics, but that shouldn't obscure her overall record which is unlikely to ever be equalled by a European. Also friends of mine who know Paula say what an extremely nice, supportive and considerate person she is, not at all like your typical self-obsessed top athlete.

This book, though, came as a real disappointment. She's clearly no writer and doesn't seem to have got much help from David Walsh in that department. Once her childhood is out of the way, the book degenerates into nothing much more than a diary of training and races, you get precious few insights into Paula as a person, you get no idea what makes her "tick", you really don't learn anything about her. I had to give up reading it about 3/4 of the way through, which is rare for me, but reading this book became about as interesting as doing hill reps in my running days - just a case of get your head down, stick with it and hope you don't throw up at the end!

Paula - you deserve better than this. Much better.
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on 4 April 2009
This is an autobiography covering Paula's life up to the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. The book is a broadly chronological account of her life moving at a good pace delivered in a conversational tone.

Being a runner myself it is always a pleasure to read about how people get into running and the immense pleasure and benefits running can have on your life.

The early chapters of how she got into running, the training and competition at grass roots level were real page turners.
What really came across for me was Paula's clarity in setting herself goals followed by the steely determination, physical and mental punishment through which she laboured in realising her ambitions.
Moving into her career at senior level, the book provides a detailed yet down to earth account of the fine line that an elite athlete treads between training the body to arrive at peak performance at the right time and the heartbreak/ immense frustration of injury.

Paula is clearly a top class athlete and will rest happy knowing that her story will inspire the next generation. Clearly her achievements deserve a five star rating. Why only three stars then?

I am reviewing her book not her achievements.

The editing of this book is not great, some chronological jumping in the middle chapters made this heavier going than it ought to have been. Also, following in the wake of the Athens Olympics this was Paula's opportunity to put her account across having suffered very publicly at the hands of media coverage and comment.
Whilst I do not subscribe to the "excuse after excuse" opinion some reviewers have, the opening chapter is pretty full on in delivering salvo after salvo of comment on Athens. Clearly necessary, and welcome, but possibly would have been more palatable and better received in its rightful chronological place after 300 pages of getting to know such a brave and endearing athlete.
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2008
Having realised that walking up my own house stairs had me almost passing out I decided to take up running (walking was a good start in my case) and within 6 months I completed my first 10K. Passing that finnish line I was the proudest and most elated I have ever been in my life and it was then that I realised what this "buzz" people kept talking about was. I felt amazing!

Not long after this I picked up Paula Radcliffe's autobiography and was hooked. I started reading and became in awe of someone who was so dedicated to her sport and who was so disciplined that while I was out getting lashed at every available opportunity while at Universtity, at the same time in another town Paula was working doggedly towards getting her 1st class degree while still managing to train religiously in the sport she loved. To me - someone who was brand new to running and who finds it very difficult - Paula became an inspiration.

I do, however, agree with some other reviews that the writing wasn't the greatest but then she is an athlete not an author, and I did notice that there were several explanations as to why she thought she hadn't run her best (I hesitate to say excuses as I have found myself saying things like "I didn't have a great run today, my legs felt heavy" etc) and I admit that this sometimes bacame repetitive.

I would still recommend this book highly though, as whether you're new to running like me or a seasoned racer the fact is that Paula Radcliffe is still one of the greatest athletes that this country has ever produced and regardless of her written word talents, this should surely be celebrated. She is an inspiration to many and rightly so. I enjoyed this book very much and it certainly spurred me on so thank you Paula.
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on 7 January 2005
I've been a fan of Paula's for many many years but strangely didn't know a great deal about her private life etc.
This is the most candid and honest autobiography I've ever read! Paula doesn't keep anything back; from incidents that happened all through her career, personal health problems to the very raw emotional highs and lows she has been through over the years.
Her book follows her career from a child to just after the Athens Olympics. A nice touch is when there's a paragraph written by her husband here and there, to tell how he was feeling and how he saw certain situations. It's really interesting how he juggles being a coach and the husband.
After reading the book I was left with even more admiration and respect for Paula, and for how dedicated and single-minded she is to achieve her goals.
I felt very angry that a recent TV review of 2004 called Paula their Number One Loser, because of Athens. I suggest anyone with that opinion read this autobiography, and find out just how ill she was leading up to that race....it is quite horrific and had it not been the Olympics she wouldn't have run at all.
Paula opens up her life quite a lot for the reader, but as well as the raw highs and lows of sport there are some humourous situations she talks about too.
A great read for all sports fans!
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on 7 October 2006
Paula Radcliffe is a nice person. She had a nice childhood with her nice parents and her nice brother. She joined a nice club run by a very nice couple. She's nice about her competitors, her friends and pretty much everyone else. Only her poor husband comes out as a bit of a git - and that's mainly because he writes small sections himself.

All this makes for a nice life but an extraordinarily dull autobiography from such an inspirational runner. This might be forgivable if the book were well written. Unfortunately it is one of the most badly written professionally published books I have read: repetitive (count the 'as I said before's), chronologically confused, and poorly structured.

On the plus side, it is not fair to describe this as a book of excuses. There are some interesting insights into the fragility of pushing the body to peak performance and the impact that small injuries and minor illness can have on elite atheletes. Possibly a bit too much insight into Paula's bowel movements, but the indignities she is happy to face in order to win are impressive.

Paula's a runner not a writer. But she was helped in this book by David Walsh, three times winner of the Sports Writer of the Year Award. And he really should have helped her make a better fist of this.

Let's hope Paula has lots more victories - and a better second volume - in her.
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