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Customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Running with the Pack: Thoughts From the Road on Meaning and Mortality
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on 22 April 2013
Thought-provoking throughout, well-written and cleverly constructed - just an excellent read. Rowlands explores some seriously deep stuff in here, but with a light and engaging style that will resonate with just about anyone who's ever put on a pair of running shoes. For long-distance runners in particular, there's a lot of wonderful insight and "a-ha!" moments, and for non-runners there's ample insight into why the runners do it, and keep on doing it... His remarkable relationship with his wolf/dog pack is at times integral to the narrative and at others a fascinating sub-plot. Highly recommended.
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on 5 June 2013
This book was far more philosophical and intellectual than I had foreseen. Nevertheless I am enjoying it. I have been a life long runner and am also interested in philosophy and alternative thinking but if you choose this book, be prepared for a lot of digression and tangential thought. It is less about running and more about reflecting on life and its passing. It uses the metaphor of running a marathon more as a cohesive device than as a biographical account of training and completing a run. I recently listened to the writer - Mark Rowlands speaking at the Hay Literary festival and found that his book is far more insightful and thought provoking than he is in person - nice guy though. Buy it and read it if you enjoyed 'Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance' but not as a gift for a running enthusiast - as i did!
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on 7 March 2013
Having read Mark Rowlands' "The Philosopher and the Wolf", I was excited to find out that another book from this original and thoughtful author was on its way. Like The Philosopher and the Wolf, Mark offers insightful, creative and thought-provoking insights on our approach to running and how we could think differently about it and life in general. It's an uplifting book and offers much more than many other books on running that I've read. After reading this book, I have tried to think differently about the reasons why I run and appreciate much more than before the experience of running in the moment, rather than where it may get me in the future.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who runs, whether you like running or not. It might just change the way you think about running and life. That's certainly worth trying!

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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2013
Love running, love philosophy; struggled with this book, and gave up part way through. The link between running and philosophy I found tenuous and it clunked back and forth with no real form. I have given it 2 stars because someone with prior knowledge of the whole subject might find this and amusing way to join 2 subjects, but as a keen runner and a student of philosophy, it covered running superficially, and philosophy too specifically.

Nice idea, but as I say, not for me.
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on 27 March 2013
I devoured this book. Quite simply, it pins down what it means to run like no other book I've read - why we do it, why it is so special. But the author also goes on to use the key runs of his life as a launch pad for some page turning thinking on many aspects of life. If you liked Murakami's 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' this is definitely a book for you.
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on 29 June 2016
"It is indeed a form of worship, an attempt to find God, a means to the transcendent...I have power, power that propels me cross country, puts me intimately in touch with nature, strengthens me.....I own the day" This is the description that Joel Henning attributes to running in his very enjoyable 1978 book Holistic Running. He describes the magnificence of running throughout the year, the beauty to be felt during a sunrise and how both mentally and physically running prepares him for the day ahead.

I have been a runner myself for some 40 years and complete even today a number of competitive races of varying distance always remembering the inspiration that I got not only from Henning's book but also James Fixxs' superb The Complete Book of running where he not only looks at the physical but also the psychological benefits.

So what has Mark Rowlands, as a philosopher and dedicated runner got to offer to the running community that books from a bygone era may not have discussed or been aware of...the answer is not a lot really! A 48 year old man battling against the onset of injuries attempting to complete a marathon "I am a tissue of injuries, scars and weaknesses sown together in the mere semblance of a man" The impression I got from reading this book is that the author did not actually enjoy running but did attribute his inner calm and inner thoughts to the run...."It is something I understand only in moments and then it is gone. But those may be the most important moments of my life"
I found the book heavy on philosophy and philosophical jargon and not enough time spent on actual running and what this did and how it made him feel. This is probably not unexpected as Rowlands is a professor of philosophy.

Running and the marathon that he is training for appears to be secondary to his ramblings and thoughts indeed he openly admits that his running ability is poor with little incentive and no natural aptitude..."My current situation is that I am running, or at least trying to run, a marathon. I have no natural aptitude for this, quite the contrary in fact. I haven't even been able to train very much; in fact training has gone very badly indeed." In those rare moments when Rowlands manages to return the readers to the "run" he does manage to contribute some valuable and important insight..."Running is the embodied apprehension of intrinsic value in life. This is the meaning of running. This is what running really is."..."Running is a place for remembering. It is in this place that we find the meaning of running."

Probably the greatest compliment and deepest thought is when at the start of chapter one there is a simple quote from Emil Zatopek, the great Czech distance runner of the 1950's..."If you want to run, run a mile. But if you want to experience another life run a marathon." So for me this book had a few highs, a number of interesting insights and some memorable quotes but in the final analysis the running was sacrificed at the expense of philosophical insights.
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on 21 October 2013
I was given this book, as a keen runner.... but this is not a running book it is a life book.

To some degree being a runner does help you to understand it, but you don't need to be a runner and you certainly don't need to be a good runner - the author himself admits he is no great runner.

Running with the Pack is about how to live our lives and be happy. The insights are based on the work of great philosophers and how their work is relevant to how we live our lives and how we can be happier in these lives. There are a lot of "self-help" books out there that offer "paths to happiness". That is not what this is, it is not a "self-help" book (as I understand them), it is not about following someone else's guide to life, it is about seeing life differently.

I think everyone in the world should at least read the last chapter of this book and preferably read the whole book.

Buy it. Enjoy it. Enjoy life. (And maybe run)!
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on 10 September 2013
I have been a fan of Rowlands since I read His book 'The Philosopher and The Wolf' due to his tone, informal style of introducing philosophy, humour and clear passion for introspection and understanding.

'Running With The Pack' is perhaps not the running book for those looking for practical steps on how to run. But, that being said those looking for inspiration to run, or perhaps, why indeed to run, will be moved by this book.

The philosophy within the book is perhaps distracting to those not inclined for a less physical workout, but serves it's purpose to inspire thought and revaluation of an otherwise -perhaps understood as- gruelling task of long distance running.

All in all a wonderful read, strongly recommended.
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on 29 May 2013
I think some people might find this heavy, but I loved much of it. As a non-runner (with a husband who runs), I was interested in the philosophy side and I found the discussion of what is valuable in life, the difference between intrinsic and instrumental value etc very useful, together with ideas as to what makes us happy. It was refreshing to find the suggestion that what we do as work is not perhaps what gives our lives highest value - so may people seem to believe that fulfilling work is the ultimate goal. It gave me a better understanding of why people run and why I do some of the things I do.
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2013
An unusual combination of wisdom and wit. I learned a lot here about the psychology of running and why I'm not better at it. Definitely worth reading more than once, in fact whenever you've forgotten why you are running. Very highly recommended. The author may be streets ahead of me in terms of achievement but I came away from this with respect for him and satisfaction in my position some way behind him.
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