Book Review: Running: A Love Story, by Jen A. Miller

I didn't realize it until halfway through the book, but the title of Running: A Love Story is a bit of a play on words. On its surface, the book is the story of Jen A. Miller's love affair with distance running: how she came to the sport; her experience running her first 10-miler, then half-marathon, then full; her struggles with body image and how running changed and defined that image. But it's also the story of Miller's love interests, her tangled relationships with men through her young adulthood and the way those relationships changed her relationship with running--for better or for worse.

This coming-of-age-as-a-runner story works, but Miller is at her finest when talking about her experience as a runner. Writing about her first 10-miler, she recalls:

I started to forget about not being able to do it by doing it... It wasn't just the race, but relief that out of all the crap in my life that I couldn't control, this one thing I set out to do, I did.
 And in reflecting on her finish time in a full marathon:

The time would break no records. It wouldn't even get me close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I finished in the middle of the pack. But none of that mattered. In running, the only markers you try to beat are your own, and I had done it.

Sure, these quiet moments of reflection and appreciation appealed to me as a runner--but they also speak to the larger draw of running as a sport and a challenge. But that's not to say that her writing will appeal only to other runners. Quite the contrary; her story is the story of an everyman (or, technically, everywoman) pushing herself to try something new and do something different and, ultimately, shape the life she wants. That larger appeal is evidence of Miller's experience as a writer and a journalist. Though Running: A Love Story is one very personal story of one woman's journey to distance running, it's universal in its appeal and its honesty about love and running and everything in between.


Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this title for review.
Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport | Jen A. Miller | Seal Press | March 2016 | Trade Paper | Buy from an independent bookstore near you

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