4 out of 4 stars
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Author Sam Brand used to run marathons. Much like the hard-working ant, he tortured himself through the training required to keep up with the human ant colony that is the marathon world. One day, Brand realized that he no longer enjoyed being part of the human ant colony and decided to investigate the life of the human dolphin instead.
In Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons, Brand categorizes people into three basic categories: the human ant, the human chimpanzee, and the human dolphin. Human ants work hard and have a very narrow focus on achieving their goal of racing in marathons. They may be part of a colony, but they do not really have good friends or enjoy life. In contrast, a human chimpanzee enjoys life and enjoys cheering on the human ants but has no interest in participating in sports. Finally, the human dolphin participates in sports, but he does so in a way that allows him to enjoy himself and be a part of a social group. From here, Brand discusses his transformation from a human ant into a human dolphin.
Brand structures his book as an easy read. Instead of chapters, he calls them “Miles,” and there are 26.2 of them. Each mile allows Brand to make his next point along his journey of transformation into a human dolphin. I enjoyed that the structure corresponds to the marathon runner’s experience. For example, in Mile 18, Brand discusses his injuries and how they forced him to take a break from marathons. This caused him to consider other activities and question his identity as a marathon runner. Many runners get to that similar point in a race and begin to wonder themselves why they ever signed up to do such a crazy thing. As a distance runner myself, I could recognize how the author used his marathon experience both as a metaphor and to structure his book in a way that would appeal to distance runners.
Another enjoyable feature in this book is the way the pages are formatted for easy reading. Each page contained only a single paragraph. Some of those paragraphs were only a line or two while others were a bit longer. Since each mile (chapter) was only a few pages long, this made the book a very quick and enjoyable read. I almost felt like it was the sort of thing that I could have read while running, or perhaps the author was giving me sage advice while we ran together.
Overall, the book was also generally well-edited. While I did find a couple of minor errors, none of them had any significant impact on the readability of the book. I did find myself mildly annoyed with the author’s repeated use of an acronym followed immediately by the definition every time, even if it had already been used. Typically an author should not feel the need to define the same acronym every time, but I could see why the author might choose to do so in this book. This book’s structure lends itself to being read quickly, in short bursts, or even out of order. Defining an acronym every time it is used could be useful for any readers that choose to read just a single page or mile.
I truly enjoyed Sam Brand’s book, and I give it 4 out of 4 stars. It was well-edited and easy to read. Brand certainly gave me some interesting ideas to consider as a distance runner, and I think other distance runners might enjoy the opportunity to consider the words of this “wise human dolphin.” I recommend this book to athletes stuck in the marathon world and to anyone considering whether training for a marathon might be right for them.
Dolphins Don’t Run Marathons
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