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Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth Hardcover – May 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345528794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345528797
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance praise for Running with the Kenyans
 
“Completely satisfying, as well-paced and exhilarating as a good run.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Adharanand Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run
 
“Part scientific study, travel memoir, and tale of self-discovery, Finn’s journey makes for a smart and entertaining read.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A hymn to the spirit, to the heartbreaking beauty of tenacity, to the joy of movement.”—The Plain Dealer

“Equal parts cultural examination, cult-of-running treatise, and poignant memoir, Running with the Kenyans thrives on a variety of levels. Like the skilled distance runner he is, Finn paces this book marvelously and then saves the best for the final kick. This book packs all the pleasure and satisfaction—and none of the ancillary pain—of a long training run.”—L. Jon Wertheim, senior editor, Sports Illustrated, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Scorecasting
 
“Not everyone gets to heaven in their lifetime. Finn tried to run there, and succeeded. Running with the Kenyans is a great read.”—Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run
 
“If you want to know the secrets of Kenyan runners, and have a rollicking adventure along the way, join Finn in his fascinating tale of what it is to go stride for stride with the fastest people on Earth.”—Neal Bascomb, author of The Perfect Mile
 
“An extremely good book . . . If Born to Run taught us what to wear (or not to wear) when running, Finn’s fascinating Running with the Kenyans teaches us how to run. . . . In the tradition of the best sports writing, Finn embedded himself fully in his subject and reveals, for the first time, just how close we are to the holy grail of the sub-two-hour marathon.”—Robin Harvie, author of The Lure of Long Distances
 
“A beautiful and inspiring must-have for every runner, Running with the Kenyans is far more than an inspirational story, but a guide toward running, humility, and life, from the amazing people of Kenya.”—Michael Sandler, author of Barefoot Running

About the Author

Adharanand Finn is a journalist at The Guardian and a freelance writer, contributing regular features for The Guardian, The Independent, and Runner’s World (U.K.).

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 87 customer reviews
The book was a good, easy read.
Patricia
In fact, after reading this book I feel like I've been to Kenya and met the Kenyans myself.
John B. Goode
As the narrative progresses, Mr. Finn shares the secrets of Kenyan running success.
Malvin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G. Kellner VINE VOICE on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Or, more accurately, it's everything and nothing. If you're reading this book hoping to discover a magic elixir that will dramatically improve your marathon time, it's not here. I was hoping to find some magic formula, as I am training for a marathon, but...Kenyans are fast for any number of reasons.

Adharanand Finn seized the opportunity to run with Kenyans for 6 months, hoping to become as fast as a Kenyan. He was a fairly fast runner already (38 minutes for a 10K) and he did get faster. He and a group of Kenyans decide they will train for a marathon in Lewa. Through the book, we follow Adharanand as he trains with a group of Kenyan runners. He does get faster (and lighter) but the highlight of the book is getting to know a select group of Kenyans and learning about their culture. The book culminates in the running of the Lewa marathon, which is fitting, as by the end of the book we have gotten to know many runners and are sitting on the edge of our seats, wondering how they do. As a runner, I thought all the factors that went in to the Kenyan dominance in long-distance running were interesting--alas, most can not be replicated in America. Still, it was an inspiring and humbling book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Mastin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
To me, a great running book is not one that focuses on technique, training plans, diet, and form. A great running book is one that entertains me and makes we want to get out and run! Adharanand Finn has done just that with his new book, Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth. Finn, a British journalist and a pretty good runner, moved to Kenya for several months (with his patient wife and flexible children). They lived in the Rift Valley town of Iten, one of the central training grounds for Kenyan runners.

Finn jumped right into the running culture of Iten. To hear him tell it, there are runners everywhere. The roads get clogged with groups of runners, and there are numerous training camps. Virtually everyone Finn is introduced to has some kind of running credential: placed in a major marathon, world record holder for this distance, medalist in that Olympic Games, etc. That high concentration of success and speed is pretty intimidating, but Finn does his best to keep up. He even puts together a team to train for an upcoming marathon.

Over the course of the book, Finn entertains us with the idiosyncrasies of life in rural Kenya (I loved his observation, which drew little comment, of the shepherd who delivered his charges one at a time in the basket of his bicycle. I wish Finn would have taken pictures. . . .) as well as with his reports of running with these world-class athletes (he often runs with the women. . . .). All the while, he asks the question that prompted his visit to Iten: why are the Kenyans so fast, dominating road racing the world over in recent years?

My favorite explanation is tied to the tradition of cattle rustling.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric C. Sedensky VINE VOICE on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Not too long ago, after a half-year of steady training for a 10K run, I started experiencing runner's knee, a painful condition often thought to result from bad running form or poor equipment (shoes). My doctor asked about my shoes, and when I told him I didn't wear any while running, he said simply, "You know, you're not a 110-pound Kenyan." My doctor, who is also a runner, was right of course, but I wish I had this book at the time, as it goes a long way to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions around running in general and barefoot running in specific.

That said, let me add that you don't have to be a runner to enjoy Adharanand Finn's "Running with the Kenyans". (Notice how the "the" suggests the selectivity of just who Finn is going to be running with - not just any Kenyans, the Kenyans.) It combines a bit of memoir, with a bit of journalism, a dash of travelogue, and a lot of running, making for a diverse and divergent read. (It reminded me a bit of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits in that respect.) Of course, if you are a runner, or more so, one of the growing legion of barefoot or minimal shoe runners (like me), I think you will find this book both challenging and enlightening. Enlightening for obvious reasons, challenging as I will explain below.

The author is a British journalist and running magazine writer whose family reached a crossroads at the same time as his running career/hobby did.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By JohnHarlin on July 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title and subtitle of this book IMPLY that Adharanand Finn runs with the Kenyans to get an insight of their training and in the process "discovers the secrets of the fastest people on earth." But for some reason, it doesn't seem to mean that for Finn, the editor or the publisher of the book. Basically, the contract of the title of this book was not met in any way. Perhaps, he even made a deal with the Kenyans that he would NOT reveal any of their training secrets because that is how the book comes across. It provides almost no depth or understanding of running whatsoever. So either Finn was the wrong person to write this book or he promised the Kenyans not to reveal any of their training secrets.

Finn runs with the Kenyans for six months in the small town of Iten where most of the greatest Kenyan runners come from. The extent of the secrets revealed are all cultural to Finn. It doesn't seem like what they run or how they run makes much of a difference to him in Kenyan running success. It is to me just incredible and unbelievable that a runner who spends six months training with the Kenyans can so ignore the training aspect.
Here is where the book is unbelievably lacking:

1. Workouts are spoken about sporadically, never what they do on a daily or weekly basis. You can't get the overall picture unless you see everything. All it would have taken is a couple of paragraphs or a sentence or two. He was there. He should know. Was he trying to keep all that a secret or was he so shallow that it made no difference to him?

2. Kenyans work out twice a day and some, I've heard, three times a day. No double workout and what they do on their second workout was ever mentioned.
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