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Ten Marathons: Searching for the Soft Ground in a Hard World


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The universal theme in Doug Schneider's Ten Marathons is simple: Keep going, even when it hurts and life sucks. Just focus on the next step.

The universal theme in Doug Schneider's Ten Marathons is simple: You keep going. Even after you collapse, even when jobs or marriage don't work out, even after you pay for starting way too fast in a race, even when it hurts and you're slowly plodding along, you just keep going.

“All great runs have at least that one thing in common: the runner focuses on nothing but the present moment—the next step, the next hill, the next person in front of you, the next telephone pole, the next water stop," Scheider writes. "Running is an elegantly simple endeavor. You need to think, but not think too much.”

Schneider is an average runner who has an average running career. He doesn't come close to elite level or even front of the pack of a normal race. But he does have enthusiasm for running. He has good intentions, even if he doesn't always follow the most diligent training plans or race strategies. All of his races have one thing in common: He hits the wall. The last 6.2 miles are terrible. It's always worse than he thinks it's going to be.

After each race, he gives up the marathon "for good." But then he keeps coming back. Even after he truly does retire from marathons, he takes up half marathons and finds he's getting marginally faster in his 60s when he devotes more time to training.

Ten Marathon isn't about extraordinary breakthroughs or a surprising revelation. It's not about accomplishing everything you set your mind to. Instead, it's a memoir about life and running for the rest of us – having the will to keep going even when, quite frankly, life sucks and the last 6 miles of the race are a total drag. Those are lessons the marathon taught him, and it's something everyone can relate to, elite runner, average joe or back-of-the-pack.

Reviewed by

Tim Cigelske draws on his experience as a journalist writing about creative people from all walks of life, including farmer, children’s author, comic book artist and Pixar animator. His writing appears in Runner’s World, Adventure Cyclist and Onion AV Club. Ashton Kutcher called him a "clever punk."

About the author

Doug Schneider is a runner, writer, and university lecturer on the changing workplace. He resides in Cincinnati, Ohio and Hilton Head, South Carolina with his wife Elaine. Doug's writing on work, life, and running can be found at www.dougschneider.net. view profile

Published on April 09, 2019

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40000 words

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Genre: Health & Wellbeing

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