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50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days    by Dean Karnazes & Matt Fitzgerald order for
by Dean Karnazes
Order:  USA  Can
Wellness Central, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Did you ever wonder ... if you could run a marathon? Dean Karnazes believes that everyone is capable of making this dream a reality - and going even further, perhaps to run an Ultramarathon! His book is inspiring when you think of the need to rise early each morning knowing that you have a full 26.2 miles (40 km) to run, day in, day out, for more than 7 weeks. Following Dean's progress, one of the most amazing things is that he clocked his fastest time on his final marathon!

This book, however, is not merely a diary of these 50 marathon runs (one in each state of America), it also contains insights into what motivates a runner, what a runner needs to eat and drink daily and before races, how to tune into your body to know when to quit and when to work through those minor aches and pains. As Karnazes says, 'Like a lot of runners, I am an introvert by nature. Running naturally appeals to introverts because it's a solitary activity ... and it has a way of dampening external stimuli, bringing your feelings and thoughts to the fore.' This is definitely true in the few serious runners that I know!

Karnazes takes the reader deep into the psyche of a runner, into the mental strength that is required to go the distance, and says, 'The marathon mercilessly rips off the outer layers of our defences and leaves the raw human, naked and vulnerable ... There is nothing left to hide behind. The marathon is the great equalizer.' We can all take something away from this book in our effort to reach fulfillment and contentment in life: 'While heroes and role models can help us make small steps forward in the never-ending journey to become our true selves, they can only take us so far ... you have to stop becoming more like the people you admire and start becoming your unique self.'

One of the most interesting facts that came to light as a result of Dean Karnazes' gruelling marathon was that the human body is incredibly adaptable: contrary to expectations, Dean did not experience as much muscle damage, dehydration, inflammation or depression of the immune system as was expected - it appears that his pre-event training had prepared his body well, making it function more efficiently, and repairing itself much faster that normal.

I'm sure 50/50 will end up in many personal libraries, and I would strongly recommend it as a gift to those with a passion to run (or start to run) - Karnazes even sets out some training regimens for both the first time marathoner and those runners who are trying to improve on their previous marathon time.

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