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Book Review: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal)

terrible wonderful run book cover

Running is one of those sports people hate. They hate it so much that they have to constantly talk about why they run, in order to convince themselves to go for another run.

To hear some people talk about running, you’d think it must be the most wonderful thing in the world.

Others, such as myself and Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, are willing to admit that it can also be a terrible thing. It’s all explained in the aptly-named book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.

If you’ve read The Oatmeal, you know what I’m talking about.

If you don’t yet know the difference between the hilarious comic The Oatmeal and the oatmeal you ate for breakfast, you’re in for a treat (figuratively speaking, since the latter oatmeal is more of a tasty treat than the comic.)

Longtime readers of The Oatmeal have probably noticed how Matthew occasionally references distance running. It’s because he’s a distance runner. And finally we have the full book about why Matthew runs long distances (in the style of The Oatmeal, naturally.)

I began reading the book the Thursday night it arrived in the mail. How could I resist?

It was really funny at the start, providing me with some chuckles on each page, much like when I read the comic online. But then on page 14 it really hit me that this is serious. I don’t want to spoil the book, but some of the “what if?” questions really hit home for me.

“What if I take today off, get lazy, quit running, and end up fat?”

That question was always running through my mind. It still is. I love to eat, and if I don’t have sports or competition to motivate me, my fitness deteriorates almost as quickly as my waistline expands!

When Matthew writes about The Blerch, I can see myself right there on the pages. It could be purely because I love feasting on donuts and gummy worms. But it could be the act of reading a physical book. Reading the book, holding it in your hands, turning the pages, it feels so much more intimate than sitting at a desk or holding an iPad and reading the website.

If you’re an avid The Oatmeal reader like I am, you’ve probably read some of the sections already. The central story is right here. And the super cool science lesson about how smart Japanese honeybees are is online too.

It’s sort of disappointing that not all of the 148 pages are new to me. Not that I didn’t re-read everything. And laugh again. It’s just that it was so exciting to flip a page and see something new, and much less exciting to flip a page and realize it’s something I’ve already read at least once.

terrible wonderful run book pages

It’s always funny thinking back to the days before I properly pinned my race numbers down using all four pins!

It’s not all fun and games though. The actual “get off your butt and start moving” advice is really on point. I bet that this comic will be more effective than some diet books!

If you’re not yet a runner, the lazy cartoonist’s guide to becoming a runner is the real deal, not just a joke. It’s legitimate how-to information that happens to be combined with funny drawings.

And if you haven’t been out for a run in a while, Matthew Inman will likely give you that final push to get with it!

I finished the book on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, when I wanted to sleep in, I got up and went outside for a 20 mile hike. It was a loop hike and there was no bail out point, so I had to stick with it and finish it (one of the techniques covered in the book.)

If I could just find a convenient way to carry this book with me, and read a few pages every mile or so, I think I’d stay happy enough to run an ultramarathon!

terrible wonderful run book on coffee table

My final verdict is…

This shouldn’t be a tough decision. Go read the comic online. If it’s something you keep clicking through and reading more and can’t stop, chances are you will like the book. And it will let you connect with the author/artist a little more. Kinda neat how that works.

It’s lots of fun and only about $10 for a paperback from Amazon. Plus you can use it as a coffee table book that will get your friends/guests hooked on running! (Or at least help them make sense of your weirdness.)

Official website: www.AndrewsMcMeel.com

Buy online: www.Amazon.com

Product Review Details
Company: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Product: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Date last updated: 2014-11-07
Obtained Product: Free review copy from publisher.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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1 Comment
  1. Looks better than the Far Side books I read as a kid.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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