Run the World (2016) by Becky Wade
In 2012, Becky Wade, a top university track runner from Texas, wins a fellowship to travel across the world. She uses the experience to learn different running practices to incorporate in her own training. She uses public transport to get around, and does not race seriously.
She aims to discover the most effective running plan, balancing the need for freedom and flexible with a demanding volume.
Inspired as a spectator at the women’s 2012 Olympic marathon, Wade learns that elite runners do not train and race hard all of the time, but are strategic in their surges.
She also meets Jamaican sprinters, including Usain Bolt, and discovers the fierce and long-standing cross-country rivalry between the Cambridge and Oxford Universities. A positive team spirit is essential to build the necessary relationships to run for others as well as oneself.
Wade explores the beautiful natural landscape of luscious forests and mountain trails in a running-friendly nation. She adjusts to become light and nimble on her feet as she copes with not always knowing her pace and distance.
She discovers that the country has no professional running groups, and yet host unique track events, where athletes run back-to-back events in which they only discover the distances during the last lap.
Wade learns that this East African country, like Kenya, harbours a culture of qualities perfect for long-distance running, including discipline, resilience and ambition.
During her training she is surprised that runners sometimes cut their runs short, opting to walk for miles back home if they do not feel fully fit. They exercise a heightened awareness of their bodies, encompassed by Haile Gebrselassie, who Wade finds is a rather entertaining dancer.
Other countries Wade discovers include Japan, where she finds the pavements and language difficult to overcome, Australia and New Zealand, where she wins a minor 5k race, whilst training with an athletic club that celebrates varied training and hard efforts, and Sweden and Finland, where she runs with her brother and discovers orienteering.
Recipe for Success
Wade’s journey is also defined by each of her hosts’ choice of diets and cooking rituals. She shares a diverse range of recipes including ugali, kolo, anzac biscuits and ozoni soup.
Through food as much as running, Wade develops close relationships with knowledgeable and humble runners. Her unstructured training of over 550 miles during the year ultimately leads Wade back to the United States, where in December 2013 she runs her first marathon, the California International Marathon. She beats the women’s field in an impressive time of 2 hours and 30 minutes.