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Decent running autobiography but not as remarkable as blurb suggests
on 20 April 2017
This was a decent read, but whether it was down to the author or the publishers, the premise and 'blurb' is slightly misleading.
The clear impression given on the jacket is of something like a fairytale triumph, where someone with little or no athletic ability somehow battled his way to an Olympic medal.
The reality is very different. The "last" element turns out to be about one page, mentioning that Charlie was academically low in the class and came last in a primary school sprint race. Within the space of another two or three pages, however, he finds out that he's better at longer distances, and within a few more pages, he's running in AAAs and National schools events at Crystal Palace and the like and well established as an elite English youth athlete.
The transformation aspect of his story is really just going from being a middling / top 20 English long distance runner to stepping up to the marathon and winning Olympic bronze and the London Marathon. He does that partly through the psychological and self-motivational stuff he writes about, but also with the benefit of prolonged spells of training in the USA in addition to being a member of a stellar Gateshead Harriers and golden British long distance running generation.
I'm not knocking it, or his achievements, in the slightest. It's just that the blurb is clearly designed to suggest that this is an extraordinary tale of a triumph against the odds, by someone who could barely run when he began. It is nothing like that.
Some of the technical stuff will be of interest to improving runners, although you might query the need for him setting out his 1984 training schedule in an Appendix.
All in all, not a bad memoir of 1970s/80s distance running, but if you want a better written and more focussed running improvement book, by someone from the same era, try Julian Goater's "The Art of Running Faster".