Book Review: I Run, Therefore I Am — Nuts!

I Run, Therefore I Am — Nuts!
by Bob Schwartz
2001

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This book first caught my attention while I was browsing the Sports–Running shelves at Barnes & Noble a few months back. After I injured my ankle and was feeling sorry for myself, I splurged and ordered a copy, hoping that it would not only entertain me, but also give me some insight into the nutty mind of The Runner.

(Disclaimer: I believe that there’s a time for (mostly) every book. If you read a book when it’s not the right time for you, you might not enjoy it as much as you would have at a different time. Lots of factors go into what’s the right time or not-so-right time, and some books are just so bad that you probably would never have liked them. But books read at the wrong time… those have potential and aren’t necessarily bad. I read Schwartz’s book at a not-so-right time for me, so please take this review with a grain of salt!)

I Run, Therefore I Am — Nuts! sort of entertained me, and for the most part really only provided insight into the mind of Bob Schwartz. I honestly didn’t think it would provide any great enlightenment, but it certainly didn’t deliver on the “Why we carbo load…” line on the cover. It was less a “runners do this because” book (which could have gotten a bit boring) than a collection of short, humorous anecdotes that may or may not have all been true. I think if I had kept this book by my bedside and read it one easily digestible chapter at a time, rather than trying to power through the whole thing at once, I would have enjoyed it much more. As it was, it took me much longer to finish it than I anticipated (almost a full month) and I found myself just wishing for it to end already. The only reason I kept powering through is because I was hoping to write a book review on it here… probably not the best reason in retrospect!

Part of the problem for me was that I didn’t find it all that funny. Some pieces were great and made me chuckle, but the promise on the back cover that the book would “have [me] in stitches” was pretty empty. Maybe my ankle injury has been making me too grumpy, or maybe I just have higher standards after reading Running Like a Girl, but I found myself rarely cracking more than a wry smile every now and then. Maybe it’s just that I have a different sense of humor than Mr. Schwartz, and that’s okay. Maybe the punchline about glycogen depletion that was used in every other vignette would have been funnier if I hadn’t read them all one after the other in the same sitting. Who knows? I did enjoy Schwartz’s overall style, even if I didn’t find it hilarious, and I still appreciated what he was saying.

Some of my favorite pieces from the book include:

  • “Parade Charade,” which described the gleeful motivation that came from running along a parade route right before the parade (like I hoped would happen back in March!) when spectators assumed the runner was winning a race they weren’t aware would be happening and cheered him on heartily.
  • “Shoe-Be-Do-Be-Do-I-Did,” dealing with the issue of hoarding old running shoes because of all the nostalgia they hold.
  • “From the Plains of Greece We Come,” a silly retelling of the legend of Pheidippides. This piece actually made me giggle out loud.
  • “The Endorphinless Runner’s Low,” the lazy woe that can come with a running layoff thanks to injury, which hit home with me pretty hard as I read it while icing my ankle.
  • “Name That Ailment,” about an idea for a game show in which runners guess the injury from descriptions of symptoms. (Clearly I especially appreciated the injury-themed chapters!)

Looking back on the book as a whole, now that I’ve overcome the obstacle of actually finishing it, it was decent. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I didn’t love it, but it just might not have been the right time for me to read it. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, easy-to-read book about running, you could certainly do worse than this collection. (Schwartz even has a second collection of humorous tidbits – I Run, Therefore I am STILL Nuts! – which was published in 2012. From the Amazon description, this newer book sounds a bit more my speed. I might give it a while before I attempt it, however!)

——

Fun aside: While searching Amazon for this book, a t-shirt popped up as a suggested item. I adore it, and think I may need to get it someday as it describes me pretty darn well:

run shirt

(The shirt reads: “I run. I’m slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, but I run”)

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