In a brisk memoir, former Runner’s World columnist Bingham (Running for Mortals, 2007, etc.) recounts his transformation from overweight, chain-smoking couch potato to avid runner, cyclist and swimmer.
“A funny thing happened on my way to middle age. I became an athlete,” writes the author in the introduction to his exploration of adult-onset athleticism. Bingham recalls his struggle with basic sports at an early age, as swimming, basketball, baseball, even bowling, all proved difficult to master. “This was a heartbreaking moment,” the author writes, and led to a self-imposed “long period of sedentary confinement.” Despite achieving much success both personally and professionally, Bingham couldn’t help but feel something was missing. When one of his colleagues returned from a cycling trip aglow with joy and energy, he finally realized that his inactive lifestyle was responsible for the emptiness he felt. He immediately went out to purchase a bike and began cycling. Because his job required so much travel, however, Bingham took up running. His first run may have lasted only eight seconds, but “what I knew for sure was that even though I was awful at it, I liked running.” More than two decades and thousands of miles later, Bingham’s first race stands in his memory as the moment his life changed.
More than a meditation on adult athleticism, this is a winning blend of wisdom and motivation.