3 out of 4 stars
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Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons by Sam Brand is a non-fiction book that focuses on the effects of marathon addiction. The book is a quasi-memoir since the author relays his personal experiences with marathon obsession. In the beginning, Mr. Brand divides human beings into three categories: the human ant who is obsessed with running marathons, the human chimpanzee who does not like sports, and the human dolphin who leads a balanced life with varied exercise. The book consists of 26.2 short chapters and contains stories and advice to help the reader comprehend the seriousness of excessive marathon running. The book is an informative and honest account of the author’s successful metamorphosis from a human ant into a human dolphin.
I am not a marathon runner, so I was interested in what Mr. Brand had to say. I was glad he exposes the health dangers of excessive exercise, especially the risk of a heart attack. Also, his explanations of how marathon runners contradict good health by breathing in carbon-dioxide while running on the street during the New York City marathon and pushing their bodies beyond healthy limits by extreme dieting was enlightening. The social ramifications of marathon running were surprising since I never realized that marathon runners sacrificed their social life while training.
However, I did not appreciate how Mr. Brand labeled people. His categorizations were too general. He did not convince me that all marathon runners have an obsessive issue with running, and furthermore, the idealistic human dolphin he describes seems to be too good to be true. Focus is necessary for athletes to excel in their sport, and the sacrifice of social life may be a part of that focus area. Health risks, although not to be taken lightly, come with the territory in competitive sports.
Running is considered the “natural high”; therefore, it is conceivable that people may develop an addiction to marathon running. However, that does not mean it is a bad thing. Mr. Brand advises people to stop running marathons, but if people enjoy the sport then why should they stop. Marathon running is not illegal, indecent, or corrupting society in any way; it is a sport people choose to do, regardless of the risks, to prove endurance and strength of mind and body.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I did not give the highest rating since the author did not persuade me that running in many marathons is harmful to one’s health. Nevertheless, the book had some enjoyable humor and advice for people who want to train for a marathon. I also enjoyed the book’s informal tone which reads like a friendly conversation. Although the book was well-edited, with only a few errors, I thought it was too short, and I would have enjoyed further development of the human chimpanzee. I recommend this book for adults regardless of their exercise level. I specifically recommend this book to all runners, especially runners who are training for marathons.
Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons
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