Top positive review
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Athletes are people not machines
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.