Don't change who you are. Be more of who you are - Sally Hogshead
A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion by Dean Karnazes
A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion by Dean Karnazes

A Runner’s High: My Life in Motion by Dean Karnazes

“In my mind, you win when you reach the start line, not the finish line” – Dean Karnazes

A book about running? Sure, but much more than that. Dean’s journey to complete the Western States 100? It is absolutely an engaging detailed account of his preparation for and his experience running in the 2018 race…but you’d be missing the joy of the writing if that’s all you got out of his new book.

The 2018 Westarn States 100 (arguably one of the most difficult US races) provides a backdrop for a deeper look into the mind of a maturing athlete. If you’ve read previous books by Karnazes, you are familiar with many of the amazing accomplishments for this ultrarunner. He has completed some of the most challenging and treacherous races across the globe. He has inspired adults and children with his physical (and surely mental) endurance feats. Yet, this book really reminds us all that the current challenge – whether a race or another obstacle in life – is a culmination of all that we’ve experienced and/or trained across all our life. 

In the book, I Can Only Imagine, Bart Mullard is told by Amy Grant that he “didn’t write this song in ten minutes. It took a lifetime” (Mullard, 2018). That was the sense I got when reading this book. I came away with an appreciation for Dean’s journey. While we read about this particularly challenging race, we learned more about his relationship with his parents and with his wife and children. We observe a husband and father longing to leave a legacy. We also come face to face with the struggle of aging as our minds and bodies come into conflict. Dean completed the Western States 100 ten times, yet the one time he didn’t finish pushed him to enter again when he was arguably not prepared. 

A Runner’s High, is not a book praising the athletic abilities and career accomplishments of one man. It is certainly not a book promoting ultra running or long distance racing. It is a book that reveals the inner heart of an ultra runner. It is a book reminding all of us that our lives are preparing us for the moments to come and challenging us to meet those moments head on.

Running an ultra is simple; all you have to do is not stop” – Dean Karnazes

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