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No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running

No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running

4.1 7
by John Bingham, Jenny Hadfield (Joint Author)

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"You don't have to run fast to be a real runner!"

John Bingham, "the patron saint of the back of the pack," commands "The Penguin Brigade"-- those thousands of dedicated runners who have learned that the greatest joy in their sport comes not from how fast they go or how thin they become, but from simply having the courage to take the first step.

Now Bingham


"You don't have to run fast to be a real runner!"

John Bingham, "the patron saint of the back of the pack," commands "The Penguin Brigade"-- those thousands of dedicated runners who have learned that the greatest joy in their sport comes not from how fast they go or how thin they become, but from simply having the courage to take the first step.

Now Bingham shares the wisdom that took him from couch potato to columnist for Runner's World magazine. No Need for Speed explores both the why and the how of running for the rest of us. With information both practical (how to find the right running shoes for you, when to enter a race, what to eat before a run) and inspirational (focus on where you are instead of where you want to be, accepting the body you have, the beauty of being realistic about goals), Bingham extends a trusted hand and expert advice to beginners and veterans alike.

Editorial Reviews

People of every age and skill level are finding out about the fun and benefits associated with running. No Need for Speed celebrates the diversity of runners by providing excellent advice for beginners who may not fit the typical athletic profile. Vital information on nutrition, training, goal setting, and equipment is balanced with motivational advice to help beginners overcome their unique obstacles. Throughout, Bingham (a former couch potato) stands out as an example for readers, proving that if he can do it, anyone can.

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Rodale Press, Inc.
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5.74(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.62(d)

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People will tell you lots of good reasons to start running: lose weight, get fit, have a healthier heart, relieve stress, and lower your cholesterol, to name a few. In my experience, those happen to be just about the worst reasons to run.

I've heard runners talking to non-runners. Runners almost always start by telling the would-be runner about all the legitimate-sounding reasons to run. For some reason, runners are afraid to tell people the real reason they run. We like it! We really like it.

The truth is that very few people are willing to get up at 5:00 a.m., pull on running shoes, and step out into the rain just to lower their cholesterol levels a few points. No, it isn't that way. We runners run in the rain and cold and in the heat and humidity because not running is unthinkable.

I spent most of my life thinking that runners were lunatics. I saw them on the back roads where I lived in the middle of the Ohio winter and thought they were totally mad. Now when I'm out running on the lakefront path in the middle of a Chicago winter, I know that they are totally mad. I also know that I've become just as crazy as they are. And just as content.

Running doesn't have to be a "win one for the Gipper," "damn the torpedoes," and "full speed ahead" kind of affair. It can be. You'll find many books that will tell you how to run your fastest 5-K or how to lower your marathon time by an hour. This is not one of those books. This is a book about how you can discover the joy that comes from moving your body with your own two feet.

The words used in this book are different. When I talk about running, I'm really talking about running and walking. I don't distinguish between the two. When I run, I also walk. When I walk, I also run. I mix the two activities together in order to be able to enjoy and participate in the kinds of events I want to do.

With this book, anyone can be a runner. You need only have a willingness to forget everything you thought you knew about running and almost everything you thought you knew about yourself. Running isn't what it was in the 1970s. Chances are that you aren't either.

No Need for Speed will help you develop a strategy for success. Throughout the plan, you'll discover the "whys" and the "hows" of running, what you'll need, what you'll want, what you'll do right, and what you'll do wrong. In the process, you'll gain many insights into the you that you're dreaming of becoming.

Many books about running take a linear approach. This method works well if all you intend to do is run your fastest 5-K or marathon and then quit. No Need for Speed is based on a more realistic "circle of success." You'll travel through the cycle of inspiration, perspiration, dedication, and celebration that I introduced in The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life (Simon & Schuster, 1999). You'll learn how to keep finding the inspiration that leads to perspiration, dedication, and celebration through running. Here's how each stage in that cycle works:

  1. Inspiration: For the first few weeks of a fitness program, inspiration often comes naturally. The five chapters in this section will show you how to keep your inspiration strong long after the initial newness of running has worn off.
  2. Perspiration: Often, runners fall at one of two extremes. They either push themselves too hard and end up hurt or burned out, or they don't push themselves enough. The five chapters in this section will show you how to push yourself just right.
  3. Dedication: Much different from willpower, dedication comes when running is inherently a part of your life. The five chapters in this section will help you make the switch from forcing yourself to run, to running simply because you enjoy it.
  4. Celebration: Finally, it's time to party. When you've reached this stage, you can celebrate all of your hard work with the realization that you are a runner--and you are a winner.

Each of the four sections of No Need for Speed concludes with a "Basic Truths" chapter. These chapters will help you with the basics of running: how far to run, how to buy shoes, what to wear, how to avoid injuries, how to complement running with other fitness pursuits, and more. These guides will give you the practical information and guidance you need to achieve your running goals. The first basics guide will help you get started, the second will give you information on injury prevention and treatment, the third shows you how to use cross-training to enhance your running, and the fourth is for those of you who believe, as I do, that it is in the fire of racing that we galvanize ourselves as runners.

In every chapter of No Need for Speed, you'll find inspirational advice from people like you who have used running not only as an activity, but also as a medium for exploring themselves and their potential. In each "Lessons Learned," you'll hear from former beginners who agreed to share their insights. You'll read about ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things by giving in to the joy of being active.

As you read, you'll also discover that runners are by nature a funny, quirky, disciplined, lazy, opinionated, quiet, helpful, rude, happy, and depressed group--just like the rest of the population! Whatever your reasons for running, whatever your reasons for not running, No Need for Speed will help you find your way to becoming yourself.

Waddle on, friends.

Meet the Author

John "The Penguin" Bingham is a columnist for Runner's World magazine. He's a regular speaker on the prerace pasta dinner circuit and teaches the basics of running to adult-onset athletes at his popular Penguin Flight Schools. He lives in Chicago, where he rides motorcycles and plays the trombone.

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No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a new 'runner' (7 months new) who has fallen into the pitfalls of overdoing it, being impatient, having unrealistic expectations and enduring injury! Yet I continue to keep trying. So, I searched high and low for a guidebook, or just a HINT at the secrets of success, for BEGINNING runners! Finally, this book provides exactly the answers I was seeking. Finally, someone (who has remembered what it is to be a beginner) has been courageous (and kind) enough to say 'SLOW DOWN!' This books gives the desparately needed permission to new runners (ok, slow joggers), like myself, that it's ok to be behind the pack and still recognize progress. It's ok to GRADUALLY improve - even if it takes years- because you have your whole life to enjoy this and get it right. It's not about speed or distance when you're just starting out! I am a 41 yr old, overweight, woman who is trying to learn MY pace (and enjoy it). I will be forever grateful for 'The Penguin's' encouraging and educational book! This book speaks directly to ME.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Bingham is a gifted story teller and has a lot of good information to share. I enjoyed the book a lot and found it both helpful and inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to start the journey of becoming a runner!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a beginner myself, I found this book very helpful. In addition to the many helpful chapters ie, 'Garbage In, Garbage Out', 'Basic Truths about Injury Prevention', and 'Staying the Course', I enjoyed reading and rereading the 'lessons learned' comments by other runners and also the 'exercise in joy' comments. This book also includes recommended reading. It does not claim to be the see all end all book to your running. It's a great start!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although John The Penguin Bingham is targeting would-be and beginning runners, his practical and inspirational message is also relevant to experienced runners. Bingham expertly helps would-be and beginning runners make the jump, start running at their own pace with the right equipment, accept their highs and lows in their sport practice, and celebrate their big and small running accomplishments over time. Bingham's message is especially convincing because he had led an unhealthy lifestyle for many years before he discovered the joy of running. Bingham also reminds his core audience that running is a life philosophy that is based on the best possible balance to strike between mind and body. That quest is nothing new. For example, the Ancient Greeks and Romans respectively used the expressions Nothing too much and A sound mind in a sound body to describe the achievement of a harmonious state. Bingham finally echoes the words of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games: The essential thing ... is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not triumph but the struggle. As a side note, would-be and beginning runners can also find inspiration in the movie Chariots of Fire and Vangelis' memorable accompanying music to keep faith in their performance, whatever it is.
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