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An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age Paperback – August 1, 2011


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An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age + The Courage To Start: A Guide To Running for Your Life + No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Velo Press (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934030732
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934030738
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The Penguin does it again! An Accidental Athlete is a charming, witty and relatable tale of John finding himself through running. In this great book he shares his journey with us one stride and two laughs at a time.” — Deena Kastor, American marathon record holder, Olympic medalist, and 12-time national champion

“John Bingham is Edward Abbey, Frank Shorter, Brad Pitt, and George Carlin all wrapped in one. John as writer has a lesson or tale in all his adventures.” — Bart Yasso, Runner’s World magazine

“Looking for some motivation to start running and improve your fitness? You're sure to find some inspiration from John Bingham's new memoir An Accidental Athlete.” — ESPN.com

“Most of us can truly identify with John Bingham’s story: There are no gold medals, no laurel wreaths, no world records. But John shows us that we have something more important: a chance, if we have the will and believe in ourselves.” — Dave McGillivray, Boston Marathon race director

“In An Accidental Athlete, Bingham…describes his journey from a clumsy wannabe-athlete kid to the realization of a dream: that by being a runner, especially a back-of-the-packer, you are truly an athlete…Bingham’s witty, engaging prose will [provide] you with a few hours of delightful distraction.” — Canadian Running magazine

“John ‘The Penguin’ Bingham has touched a nerve with runners worldwide like no one in the last decade. He's funny but serious, informal but inspirational.” — Amby Burfoot, Runner’s World magazine

“For anyone who might feel overwhelmed or overly fond of couch time, John Bingham's charming memoir can help....[Bingham’s] sense of humor...adds to the sweet appeal of the story, providing enough encouragement to anyone looking to exercise more.” — ForeWord magazine

“This charming, gently funny autobiography from the big-hearted Bingham is a testament to hangin' in there…If more people were like him, where each event, run, mile, step is a celebration, the world would be a better-and healthier-place.” — Library Journal

“Bingham uses a great knack for storytelling, and some really funny examples, in his new book about becoming a middle-aged athlete…Some of the best stories (perhaps because I can relate to them) are those of the real racing done at the back of the pack.” — TriMadNess

From the Back Cover

A funny thing happened on my way to middle age. I became an athlete. And not just any athlete, but a runner—all without taking a running step until I was 43 years old.

Known by fans as “The Penguin” for his back-of-the-pack speed, John Bingham is the unlikely hero of the modern running boom. In this warm, witty memoir, the best-selling author and columnist recalls his childhood dreams of athletic glory, sedentary years of unhealthy excess, and a life-changing transformation from couch potato to “adult-onset athlete.”

Overweight, uninspired, and saddled with a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoking habit, Bingham found himself firmly wedged into a middle-age slump. Then two scary trips to the emergency room and a conversation with a happy piano tuner led him to discover running—and changed his life forever.

In turns inspiring, poignant, hilarious, and heartbreaking, An Accidental Athlete is the story of the unexpected joys of running—the pride of the finisher's medal, a bureau-busting t-shirt collection, intense back-of-the-pack strategizing. And one man's discovery that middle age was not the finish line after all, but only the beginning.


More About the Author

John is one of the running community's most recognizable and popular personalities. He was a featured columnist in Runner's World magazine from 1996-2010. John now writes his monthly column The Penguin Chronicles" in Competitor Magazine.

His break-through first book "The Courage to Start" and his best selling "No Need for Speed", John "the Penguin" Bingham inspired hundreds of thousands of men and women to run for fun, fitness, and self-affirmation. His book, "Marathoning for Mortals", co-authored by Coach Jenny Hadfield, revolutionized long-distance running and walking. With "Running for Mortals" John and Jenny brought the joy of running to everyone.

Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face--and started running. Since then, he has completed 45 marathons and hundreds of 5K and 10K races--and developed a whole new outlook

John is the National Spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training Program and is the voice of the Competitor Group's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to runners everywhere.
ARH
"See, a funny thing happened when I started to run; I started to feel better. Just living my life became easier because I was more active."
K. Peterson
He's a very funny writer and it's easy to connect with his story.
Dougie Fresh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dave Lakhani VINE VOICE on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I kept reading this book wanting to really like it but the author spends way too much time in my opinion working out his childhood issues around athleticism and competition which never really seem to get resolved.

The writing is ok, it is written conversationally and it is a conversation I'd leave quickly in person. I think that this book would have made a great article in a runners magazine with some tight editing.

The book explores the author's relationship with being overweight, a smoker and always wanting to be but never quite being an athlete until he is in his 40's. I give the author great credit for taking the initiative to change his life and get in shape, that is tough no matter when you start and I admire his resilience. But, the book doesn't really give concrete examples of how someone might get started, it does give you kudos for staying at the back of he pack and for finishing and I get that to a certain point but he goes over and over again how he consistently finishes last and is ok with that. You don't have to be in shape or do anything other than show up to finish last. I'd like to see more of what he did to increase his ability, I'd have liked to see a training example, I'd like to see him really encouraging others to do it rather than hoping that they'll read about him working through his issues and find a path of their own. There is really no arc to the story, it is just a flat line, "I started, I got marginally better and just kept at it, I raced the guys at the back of the pack and somehow became an athlete." He does make mention of getting better and even winning races bu you never know how the transition occurred other than imagining that he put in enough miles and kept improving.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By 2nd time not a charm on March 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to love this book as much as I do his other books and his long-running articles in Runner's World magazine. I wanted it so badly I downloaded it right to my Kindle. Sadly it was a disappointment. While I normally laughed out loud from reading his Penguin Tales, I think there was only one line in this whole book that make me laugh like that. Seemed a bit thin, and as others have said would have been a better article than a book. He is an inspiration to me and many other "adult onset athletes" but I think maybe you'd be better off getting this when it hits your library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoy John Bingham's books, having read a number of them. I particularly liked this one as I'm an accidental runner at 40 after having been an athlete for almost all of my life. I'm also a back of the pack runner and find no shame in it. After somebody has to finish after the faster runners. Great job John. Looking forward to more books from you!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Coach Marie on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have heard John speak many times over the years and he never fails to amuse and inspire. From his speeches I knew bits and pieces of his story but it was fun and interesting to get "the whole scoop". I didn't have to read past the prologue to laugh and be inspired. Although I am appreciative of John's
"every day athlete" mentality and how he is cojoled and convinced thousands upon thousands of athletes to know that "They can do 26.2" what I find truly fascinating and inspirational is how John found a new passion in midlife and literally and figuratively took it and ran with it. I love that he has built a lifestyle, a career, an informational platform and philanthropic efforts all from something that was completely new and different for him at the age of 43. Whether you want to believe that you can become a runner or whether you want to believe that you can still find a new passion in your life...it may "accidentally" happen when you read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nitsa VINE VOICE on August 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was a sprinter in high school almost 30 years ago and could not fathom running long distances as I would watch the cross country team train. Now in my forties I am doing just that. Never would I have imagined that I would take up a half marathon and now train for my first ever full marathon and this book connected with me in more ways than one.
It doesn't matter when you start as long as you have begun a program to feel better and accomplish a dream. Bingham takes us through his own journey which is both entertaining and amusing. He stresses that it is alright to "accidentally" bring out the athlete in you. There is no need for speed but strive to enjoy your run..along with any set backs you may have you can do it.
I am a follower of Bingham's articles in Runners World and always find his stories inspirational and funny. His tenacity to show that anyone who sets out to accomplish their goal regardless of when they started can do it and also have a lot of fun ion the process.
Wonderful book for an older athlete getting back into shape of even a first time athlete. I found it to be an enjoyable book.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ironman96 VINE VOICE on August 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While I love the story of middle aged, out of shape folks becoming first time athletes, this book fell short of what it could have been. I'm sure the Penguin is fun to listen to in person and a great running partner, but unfortunately the writing couldn't bring it out in this book. There was potential but maybe this was better suited for a long magazine article.

The writing was pretty plain and the anecdotes way too cliche, especially when the author talks about his childhood and his pre-running period. Runners may find some of the running stories familiar and funny, but not enough to plod through 200 pages. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like the book, it fell flat. Maybe it really depends on the audience--as a runner, it was not for me.
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