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An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age

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Overview

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 ...

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An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934030738
  • Publisher: VeloPress
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 480,155
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Since his column, The Penguin Chronicles, started in Runner's World magazine in 1996, John “The Penguin” Bingham has become one of the running community's most popular and recognized personalities. Now, as a featured columnist for Competitor Magazine, national spokesperson for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and principal announcer at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon series, his popularity continues to grow. Prior titles include The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life; No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running; Marathoning for Mortals: A Regular Person's Guide to the Joy of Running or Walking a Full or Half Marathon; and Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Section One – The Kid Picked Last
Chapter 1 – Sandbox Nonnie
Chapter 2 – Death by Dodgeball
Chapter 3 – Bowled Over
Chapter 4 – Smoke and PT

Section Two – The Adult Onset Athlete
Chapter 5 – Release from Sedentary Confinement
Chapter 6 – Hitting the Road
Chapter 7 – Off to the Races
Chapter 8 – Black Toenails and Chafing

Section Three – The Glory Years
Chapter 9 – Collecting T-shirts
Chapter 10 – Medals and Mettle
Chapter 11 – The Need for Speed
Chapter 12 – Looking for Adventure

Section Four – The Back Nine
Chapter 13 – The Last Best Day
Chapter 14 – The Comeback Kid
Chapter 15 – When Less is More
Chapter 16 - One Day at a Time

Epilogue – Running Into Myself

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2012

    Very inspiring

    Very inspiring book. Easy to read and fun to follow. At some points of the book I was laughing so hard I cried! Worth the read-great for those needing a lil reassurance with their beginning running.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    The Penguin Writes Again!

    I love reading (and also listening to) John Bingham's writing. He's funny and he's honest. And his words ring so true!! A great read for all "adult-onset athletes"!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    Loved this book!!

    This book was laugh out loud funny for me. I found myself on my treadmill laughing and identifying with many stories. Once of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. It will be a book that I will read again just to make sure I didn't miss anything and to have another good laugh. They say laughter is good for the soul and so is "An Accidental Athlete." So happy I made the purchase.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Great Motivator!

    Gave me the courage to get out there & run even though I no longer have any hope of being 'First'. I am my own winner. Thanks John for your story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Short and Sweet

    The book reminded me of my days in Middle and High School. The days when I wasn't an athlete to anyone who looked at me. Very funny at times and thought provoking.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Loved the honesty in this book

    John Bingham wrote a great book for beginner runners to connect to and also answer some questions we all ask! Great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2012

    Bravo!

    What a fun read. Enteraning while also being spot-on. Recommended to friends already!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    AnnaM

    Funny, read the this book with a smile!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Just finished "Accidental Athlete" by John Bingham

    Nice little quick book. There is a good bit of inspiration and wisdom within. However, it is not the most gripping running related book i have ever read. It is great if you are coming back from a set back and could use a little inspiration from an average joe who has run over 40 marathons.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

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    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Loved it

    As a 12 minute per mile runner who didn't start running until I was 46 I could relate. I have a penguin sticker on my car that says "I'm slow I know. Get over it"

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Encouraging read

    This is a great read for anyone who has the desire to become a runner in mid-life. Very real and relatable!

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    If Your Inner Athlete was a late bloomer....

    You will love this book. The Penguin proves once again there is no reason not to get up off the couch and change your life

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    Posted August 17, 2014

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    Posted May 1, 2013

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    Posted November 26, 2011

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    Posted October 10, 2011

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