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Pain Paperback – June 13, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The author, Dan Middleman, is a prominent American distance runner. In 1996 he made the U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000 meters and was the #2 ranked American in that event. His 28:04.8 that year was the fastest U.S. time for the distance. An elementary school teacher in Raleigh, NC, Dan is currently working toward a master's degree in behavioral disorders. PAIN is his first novel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1425932908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1425932909
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,428,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Timothy I. Morgan Jr. on July 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Dan Middleman, who has obviously read John L. Parker Jr.'s "Once a Runner," takes a different approach to the subject of the intensity of distance running that is anything but subdued, and thankfully so. This is a brutally honest and enthralling book that takes readers through the dark side of competitive distance running. Middleman's characters all face the toll of the double-sided card of competitive drive. Middleman focuses dually on the pressure they put on themselves to succeed and the pressure from the weight of the force of running to win in itself. The characters relieve themselves, even if only in a transitory way, by drinking beer like fish swimming through water, even if that itself turns into another problem, as several of the characters suffer from alcoholism. Parker's characters drank, but not like this. Middleman focuses on this aspect of college life more than Parker did, and as a college student myself, I have no doubts that these situations occur regularly just as described in "Pain."

Richard Dubin drinks heartily and runs even more heartily while trying to balance a serious relationship with a girl he is captured by. He suffers from extreme nervousness before races and becomes so jaded from it that his perspectives and personality change dramatically. Many college runners can identify with this, even though they may not take the tenebrous turns Richard does. This is a blunt, realistic, and entirely compelling book that is excellently written without being difficult to read or comprehend. There's not a false ring to it, especially in the narration and the dialogue; even the tragic ending, which will leave you reeling long after you've finished reading the book and carries an unexpected twist, is not farfetched.
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Format: Paperback
Though not as uplifting as Once a Runner or as mentally stimulating as The Champion Maker, Pain is a realistic look at the way pressures to excel in distance running can drive a person to the brink. In that sense, it had a tragic feel similar to The Olympian, another running book I liked. As you would expect from a runner of Middleman's caliber, the training and racing descriptions are dead on. He also lightens the dark subject matter with some funny sections involving college pranks, drinking, etc.
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Format: Paperback
"Pain" lets the reader into the hardcore world of the student-athlete at a major university. From wild parties and nude relays to a tense relationship with an older woman, the story is set against the backdrop of competitive track and field, and the anxiety of Richard Dubin, a 5th-year senior and potential Olympian. The story moves quickly, encompassing funny scenes worthy of an "Animal House" sequel and disturbing, painful (hence the title) scenes of depression and anxiety. The characters are well-drawn, and the dialogue, authentic. The story winds inexorably toward a tragic ending, but the reader will be surprised at the twist it finally takes. Ultimately, the ending is haunting, but the book is written with great visual descriptions, and will leave you trying to mentally cast the movie.
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Format: Paperback
More than 20 years ago, I read John Parker's Once a Runner. Like Middleman, Parker was an excellent University of Florida runner; like Parker, Middleman has written a very thinly disguised account of real runners and the world of elite athletes. I loved Parker's book; I've given it to many of my running friends and to the kids I've coached; I came to hate Middleman's book. I gave it two stars only because he does, indeed, write well about running. (I'd read an excellent excerpt in Running Times which made me anxious to read the book.) Why do I hate it? Because they are all drunks! Parker wrote about real college guys too. They drank beer and had fun. But they weren't drunk day after day after day. And what is especially sad is Middleman seems so clearly to be writing about himself. And, amazingly, he seems to genuinely describe himself as a recovered alcoholic since now he just downs a six pack or more four times a week and only gets really drunk on week-ends. This discourages the hell out of me because I've been coaching high school kids for so long, and if this is what they have to look forward to in college, it is extraordinarily depressing. So... go back to the classic, go back to John Parker's Once a Runner. If you are a highly competitive athlete - or just like a great story - it will move and inspire you. Skip Pain unless you want to be terminally depressed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A story about affiliation and achievement and the struggle to manage them. Most of us are motivated by power, affiliation, or achievement and experiences that lack these elements affects our well-being. Pain illustrates these experiences.
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Format: Paperback
I could relate to the poor coaching, exhaustion, up and down performances, and maybe even a little depression. I could even relate a little bit to drinking too much occasionally and being frustrated with dating.

The aptly named Richard Dublin crew seems to have been binge drinking 4+ nights per week. How did these guys ever train at a high level?

The running descriptions are good but a little short. He could have gone much deeper into the thoughts and physical feelings of the races. Generally this is true in all parts of the book.

The Dublin crew gets naked with other dudes on a nearly weekly basis. It is not sexual, just found it odd.

Spoiler alert: The ending is seriously depressing. Nobody ends up with anything positive or uplifting. As a reader I wondered what was the point.

I am not disappointed that I took the time to read this book, but it is not the best running fiction out there. It is just OK.
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