Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Review: Train Like a Mother


If you're a mom who runs, you've likely already heard of Run Like a Mother, the first book by runner-mom-writers Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. (And if you haven't, get up to speed, mama! Hey, that was a nice unintentional pun, wasn't it?)

Dimity and Sarah both have essays in the anthology P.S. What I Didn't Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, as do I, so I like to think of them as close personal friends. Even though we've never met. We're also all moms, writers, and runners, so clearly we're BFFs. Hi, Dimity and Sarah!

Run Like a Mother was so successful that these two turned the book into a franchise and launched a website called another mother runner--which you should really check out, if you haven't yet--and wrote book number two, the newly-released Train Like a Mother. (That is some awesome entrepreneurship, ladies.) When I was offered the opportunity to review this latest installment in what I hope will be a mom-running trilogy (?), I jumped at the chance.

Train Like a Mother's subtitle says it all: How to Get Across Any Finish Line--and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity. While Run Like a Mother focused on moms and running in general, Train Like a Mother delves into the world of racing (and I use that word loosely; we're not necessarily talking about racing to win or even be fast, but racing in all its various forms, from running a marathon or setting a PR to simply getting through your first 5K).

The speed at which I read this book speaks volumes about how much I liked it--and I'm not even a racer. Dimity and Sarah resurrect their signature down-to-earth, friendly, conversational tone of the first book, and the book itself appealingly follows the design formula of book number one, including the bright color, clever line drawing, and pleasing matte finish of the cover; the fun inside format with its lists and every-mama-runner quotes sprinkled throughout; and the easy-to-read sidebars and visuals. Nice!

Oh, but maybe you read books for more than just their appearance. OK! Well, let me tell you, if you're a mom runner who is batting around the idea of signing up for a race or is already a race fanatic, this book is for you. You'll love it. It's chock-full of every piece of information you'd ever want, from tons of training plans (ranging from beginner to advanced) and nutrition advice to wardrobe recommendations and running-with-the-baby-jogger tips.

But if you're a mom runner who is not a racer, like me, you'll love it too--and you may just turn into a racer by the end of the book. Dimity and Sarah make 5Ks and 10Ks and half-marathons sound pretty fun and doable. Marathons too, for you ambitious types! (For the record, I've done a few 5Ks and even the Chicago Half-Marathon in my running past, just not within, like, the last 15 years.)

Because here's the thing: some of us non-racers like training plans anyway, for their structure and challenge and defined way to ease back into running after an injury, for example (as I'm doing right now). And even non-racers benefit from chapters on nutrition, running gear, balancing running time with family time, coping with running injuries, and all the rest. So don't pass up this book just because you don't do races. If you're a mom who loves to run, you'll still get a lot out of this book--and enjoy yourself while you read it, too. It's funny and entertaining and enlightening. (I'm not sure I really ever wanted to know about runners who intentionally pee their pants while racing to avoid the time delay of using the Porta-Potties, though. Some things you can never un-learn.)

So what's next, Dimity and Sarah? Is there a number three in your future? How about something about mom-runners introducing their young daughters to the sport? It could include things like age-appropriate training plans, healthy eating, boredom busters, how running affects girls' physical and emotional health (big news right now with all the buzz about early puberty and the research showing that exercise is the only thing that reliably slows premature puberty), how to make running fun, cross-training/active play ideas, and body image issues! Hey, do you need a third writer???

I don't know what it would be called, though. Coach Like a Mother? I don't know. We can think about it. Wink, wink. (Call me.)

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