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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
It Could Be Worse: A Girlfriend's Guide for Runners who Detest Running is a nonfiction sport and fitness book written by Beth Probst. Probst wants her readers to know they can be runners -- if that’s what they’d like to be. She doesn’t make any promises about finishing first or even in the first half of the finishers, but she does show you how to reach that finish line. Probst ran her first half-marathon in 2011, and she hasn’t stopped running yet. In this book, she shares what she refers to as “tips, tricks, and tales about what happens when you want to be a runner.” Much of what she shares is knowledge gleaned from the internet, books, and magazines; still more is gathered from other women runners who’ve been a part of the running experience with her. Along the way, the reader experiences vicariously the weeks of training preceding a big run; the carbo-loading night before; and the jitters and excitement moments of signing-in and waiting for the race to begin.
Probst’s book teems with advice on getting the right gear, finding training partners, and doing it all while still having the occasional pizza and beer bash and generally living life. The contributors’ stories enhance and build upon Probst’s story, and together they make the reader feel included in the grand and sometimes gruesome activity that is running. They share the glorious and the awful aspects; sparing no embarrassing details of when they first started and giving invaluable insights to those who’ve dreamed of running, but felt they couldn’t. Confirming that they’ve been there too.
I was first inspired to start running after watching the Olympics years ago. As I read It Could be Worse, I remembered the awkwardness of those first clumsy steps I took, and the effort it was to reach the end of the block where I lived. And yes, each time I went out, I got further and felt stronger and began to realize that I had indeed become a runner. It’s a marvelous feeling. Probst gets that and shares it so eloquently in this decidedly different book on running. And while it’s geared toward women who hear the call and want to be part of the experience, this book is equally valuable for guys who’ve, for whatever reason, determined that they can’t run. Probst never guarantees she can whip her readers into shape and transform them into the gazelle-like leaders heading the pack in every marathon, but she does assure readers that they can actually complete a 5k, 10k, or any race by virtue of training, signing in, running the race and hitting that finish line. Anyone with a pulse will finish this book ready and feeling confident that they too can become a runner. It Could Be Worse is most highly recommended.