Wade is an elite runner who wanted to explore the running culture and training practices around the world after she graduated from Rice University before taking up the mantle of professional runner and Olympic hopeful in her post-college career. She applied for and was granted a Watson Fellowship to do just this, traveling to England and Ireland, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand. In each place she was hosted by people in the local running community, joined in training with local runners, enjoyed the food that elite athletes from these very different parts of the world use to fuel their workouts, and examined the running innovations born in these very disparate places for both elite and casual runners. Wade found very different training regimens across the world, all of which have, at one time or another, developed world class runners, and she tried all of them on her exploratory running year. More than the differences though, what Wade found was a warm and welcoming community of runners the world over. She was embraced by fellow runners, experiencing their world from the perspective of a treasured guest, and coming away from each experience with new dear friends. She also came away from her year with a renewed appreciation for her running gift and a different perspective on training and listening to her body, not tethered so tightly to technology, more intuitive and innate.
Wade has an easy, chatty narrative style making this a fast, delightful read. Her wonder and enthusiasm for her sport and for the people and places she encountered on her travels shine through the book. The brief bits of running history she sprinkles through the very personal tale are interesting, even for the non-runner. As an elite runner herself, her unexpected positivity about recreational runners and joggers and their growth within this accessible sport is a delight. Wade clearly has a wonderfully positive attitude, a curiosity, and a joy about running that served her well as she traveled far from family and friends. She doesn't share much about the harder parts of her year abroad, and there had to be harder parts, so the narrative is definitely weighted towards the incredible and favorable experiences. Each leg of her journey is captured in a separate chapter, at the end of which she adds a recipe from that part of the world. The individual chapters allow her to encapsulate what she's learned from each different country in terms of training, her own body, and the life lessons she takes away from each philosophy she encounters. The book is not terribly long and will take most readers only slightly longer to read than it takes Becky Wade to run a marathon (and she's fast!). Those who love running, those who have an interest in different athletic cultures, and those who enjoy memoirs about a year devoted to doing one thing will certainly enjoy this friendly and entertaining account of Wade's year running around the world.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.