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To Be a Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place) Hardcover – May 10, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


The wisest of this bunch, as well as the funniest, is Martin Dugard, a coach with competitive experience and bylines in many familiar sports magazines. Coaching has likely helped Dugard achieve such a pleasant outlook. 

Dugard's sense of self confidence is evident throughout the book, but so is his ability to take motivation and inspiration from the challenges he faces. He does so with page-turning flare. --The Baltimore Sun

Martin Dugard is an amazing writer, no matter what the topic. But the fact that his latest book, To Be A Runner, is about the one subject that he lives and breathes for makes this his best book ever. 

--Bob Babbitt, Competitor Magazine

"Dugard's... sense of humor shines through. This book will inspire non-athletes, while former runners may find themselves lacing up their running shoes after reading just a few chapters." - Publisher's Weekly

"Dugard's style, a mix of instruction, introspection and experience, reads like both a narrative and a how-to. His essays are thought provoking, inspiring and often humorous...Highly recommended" -Kirkus Reviews

“Great summer beach read for the thinking runner...engrossing...if you're looking for the ideal running-related summer read, look no further than To Be a Runner. It is characterized by a rare combination of lightness and substance that makes it a pleasure to read.” ―Matt Fitzgerald,

“Attention all runners. If running is your life, your lifeline, your escape, or even if you're hopelessly caught up in the What Makes Sammy Run rat race – this is your book.” ―New York Times best-selling author James Patterson

“Anyone who has run has a story to tell as a result and usually behind that story is an important life lesson if we have open eyes to see it. To Be A Runner shares lessons that have been learned through the rocky, hard, sweat-filled miles as well as those miles that float by effortlessly, with extreme joy, and elation. Running is the ultimate school master. I learn something about myself, others, and life every time I lace up my shoes and head out the door. Whether you are a seasoned runner that can relate to the lessons shared in To Be A Runner or are just a beginner looking to avoid some of those painful lessons that those who have gone before can attest to you will be sure to find some gold nuggets to take with you for your next run around the block.” ―Ryan Hall, Olympian and American record holder in the half-marathon and cofounder of a The Steps Foundation, a growing community of radical runners stepping together to end global poverty

“Martin Dugard on running is like reading Anne LaMott on faith, John Grisham on law, or William S. Burroughs on drugs. He is entertaining, enlightening and inspiring. Read this book, but keep your running shoes close by. Because when you put it down, you're gonna want to go find a trail.” ―Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer

“Martin Dugard has filled every role a runner can--athlete, teammate, coach, adventurer, wanderer--and, as such, writes with a perspective any runner can appreciate. Whether you're a beginner or an ultra-runner, you'll see yourself in this book, which is a testament to the important places that running takes you.” ―Dimity McDowell, co-author, Run Like A Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job or Sanity

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author and lifelong runner Martin Dugard has written about running and endurance sports for more than twenty years, and run on six continents. His books include Chasing Lance and Into Africa. His writing has appeared in Runner's World, Sports Illustrated, Esquire and many other magazines. He lives in Orange County, California. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160961108X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611088
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #372,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard is the co-author (with Bill O'Reilly) of Killing Jesus, Killing Kennedy, Killing Lincoln and Killing Patton. These four books have sold more than eight million copies.

In addition to history, Dugard specializes in chronicling the drive of great men to realize their potential. This can be seen in his trilogy on endurance sports: Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth (McGraw-Hill, 1998); Chasing Lance (Little, Brown; 2005), and To Be A Runner, is an inspiring and informational series of essays written from the viewpoint of Dugard's forty years as a distance runner.

Dugard's other books include The Murder of King Tut (co-written with bestselling author James Patterson), which saw Dugard travel to Egypt to unravel the centuries-old mystery of who murdered Tutankhamen, Egypt 's legendary boy king; The Training Ground (Little, Brown, 2008), the riveting saga of America's great Civil War generals during the Mexican War, when they were scared young lieutenants first learning the ways of war; The Last Voyage of Columbus (Little, Brown; 2005), Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone (Doubleday, 2003), Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook (Pocket Books, 2001), and Knockdown (Pocket Books, 1999).

For the past eight years he has also put that knowledge to good use by spending his afternoons as the head cross-country and track coach at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. His teams have qualified for the California State Championships four years in a row, and his girls team won the state title in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

He has also co-written three books with Mark Burnett, creator of Survivor and The Apprentice.

Dugard recently wrote and produced A Warrior's Heart, a coming-of-age film based around the sport of lacrosse. A Warrior's Heart stars Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene.

An adventurer himself, Dugard regularly immerses himself in his research to understand characters and their motivations better. To better understand Columbus he traveled through Spain , the Caribbean, Central America, and sailed from Genoa to Spain aboard a tall ship in the manner of the great navigator. He followed Henry Morton Stanley's path across Tanzania while researching Into Africa (managing to get thrown into an African prison in the process), and swam in the tiger shark-infested waters of Hawaii 's Kealakekua Bay to recreate Captain James Cook's death for Farther Than Any Man.

Dugard competed in the Raid Gauloises endurance race three times, ran with the bulls in Pamplona on two occasions, and flew around the world at twice the speed of sound aboard an Air France Concorde. The time of 31 hours and 28 minutes set a world record for global circumnavigation. Dugard's magazine writing has appeared in Esquire, Outside, Sports Illustrated, and GQ, among others.

Martin Dugard lives in Orange County, California, with his wife and three sons.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 55 people found the following review helpful By L. Lee on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid runner, but I cringed to read such self important ego centric musings about the sport. Yikes; the title should have tipped me off. I think his aim is to include all runners in his snobbery, but I don't want that kind of company on the trail. The book becomes very tedious, reading like a collection of feature articles in a runner's magazine. - I guess that could be fine, but not what I was expecting. There is nothing to string the chapters together, except for the theme of running and how superior and insightful Dugard thinks he is. Dugard is a good writer (as he likes to remind us) and witty... similar to the travel essays by Bill Bryson (YES! travel the world with an open mind and a sense of humor - that is an enlightening path - running shoes are merely optional), except that all his feigned humbleness is actually just one pat on the back after another. It's embarrassing and not so incredibly insightful. And he assumes that just because trail running is his source of inspiration, that it is also the world population's only path to clarity in life. Oh, and Heaven Forbid that a non-runner should step foot in a running store to buy a workout shirt! On a final side note, I'm also a bit turned off that he runs with the bulls in Pamplona and claims that is part of what makes him so wonderful and has helped to make the world a better place....really? A medieval tradition of animal cruelty makes the world a better place? OK. Before you buy this book, visit the author's blog to see if it's your style - it didn't suit my taste at all, but I must not be a real runner in his eyes.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Desmo on October 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I guess I was just expecting more from this book. I found it to be a just a bunch of running stories which I was not really impressed with. Seemed like a the book was all over the place with no clear path or storyline. I would not recommend it to anyone. I think you can find better motivating booked about running on the market.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Maurer on August 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This summer I have been on this rampage of reading non YA books and instead reading books about bettering ourselves(not self help), increasing mental toughness, eliminating the things in our lives that we don't really need that end up causing us more stress, and fitness.

I saw this book at my local library and picked it up on a whim. What a great whim as I found this to be the perfect book for me to end my summer on. It helped to guide me with appreciating my runs, where I run, my habit of running, and to begin to think about the events and habits I am forming because of running. It gave me some great quotes to add to my massive collection that I have created for both coaching and my classroom(well, when I have a classroom).

You don't necessarily have to be a runner to enjoy this book, but it would really help. What I liked about this book is that in a subtle way it reminds all of us to not settle for mediocrity. Do something with yourself. Don't let life just pass you by, but get out there and be involved whether it is running, another sport, another hobby, etc. Look around you or maybe yourself and observe how many people are not pushing their limits to see what they are capable of actually accomplishing. This book put me at ease after a long workout or long day. A great read and I hope to find a few more books like this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alex Hutchinson VINE VOICE on May 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Running can be more than a hobby, more than a competitive sport, it can be a way of life. In this book Author Martin Dugard delves into a lifetime of running experiences both on and off the track, both as a teacher and a student to bring forth a simple philosophy of why we run and what it can mean to our lives. To Be a Runner is just that, a statement of being, of belonging to a community of those who suffer for the sake of feeling truly alive. While other activities might be more dangerous, complicated or expensive, running remains the most pure. Each story in this book is a return to that purity.

Whether it be running up mountains, running with the bulls, coaching a cross country team or ice bathing in a river, each relatable tale is a reminder to the reader that running need not be regimented, scheduled, limited or compliant with the expectations of others. It need only be endured and enjoyed. Will it make the world a better place as stated in his absurdly long sub-title? There are no utopian promises in his prose but the author does provide a fresh perspective built on his own dynamic understanding derived from a life lived charging into the wind.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael DENNISUK VINE VOICE on February 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a runner and a coach I had hoped this book would be different than it turned out. It is well written (in terms of the writer's prose) and it is about running. He is a successful high school coach and father. Mr. Dugard an adventurer and a curious soul. Why didn't I like the book more? I'm not sure. Part of it may be that he comes off as a bit egotistical (maybe more than a bit). Part of it may be the structure of the book (I did not find it a compelling read AND this is the type of book I ussually devour). With so many excellent running books out there I don't think I would ever recommend such a mediocre effort.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Crys83 on July 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
But this book made me realize that a love for running can take you places no matter what your end goal might be. It was entertaining and inspiring. The other aspect of the book was the tie to Dugard's experiences as a coach. I am a teacher, and his methods and understanding of how to guide young adults to learning without leading them there directly resonated with me on so many levels. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good non-fiction story and finds joy in running. I am glad I picked it up!
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