Pam Reed is an extraordinary ultrarunner, but not (yet) an extraordinary writer. Her autobiography The Extra Mile: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness is unfortunately disorganized and unbalanced. There's far too much angst and unnecessary detail about her youth, her anorexia, her failed first marriage, etc. There's far too little information about her amazing accomplishments, like winning Badwater in both 2002 and 2003, when she beat all the men as well as the ladies in the legendary 135 mile race from Death Valley to Mount Whitney. Reed's prose needs stern editing (safety tip: don't use "really" and "nice" more than twice on the same page!). The book has an overall feeling of thinness, of excessive whitespace used to pad out skimpy material.

Nevertheless, at times Pam Reed soars above the mundane and offers important, insightful advice. In particular, she observes (Chapter 23):

... To compete in any sport, you need to have a well-developed ego. This is especially true before and during an event. You have to tell yourself that you really can do well, and you've got to believe it. At the same time, if things start going wrong, ego can become a big liability unless you know how to adjust. If you've been telling yourself that you're a great athlete, how are you going to feel when you're passed by someone twice your age? Don't think it can't happen, because it has happened, even to some top runners. When you just don't have it on a given day, the classy move is to recognize it and give yourself a break. You can learn to enjoy the experience of doing less than well. It doesn't mean you're a "loser", a word that only losers use. I've had bad days and tough races, and I think they've made me a better runner and possibly a better person.

(cf. Eric Clifton (1 Oct 2004), TaoistState (12 Nov 2004), AndThenTheVultureEatsYou (9 Dec 2004), RunningThroughTheWall (23 Jan 2005), RunningOnTheSun (4 Nov 2005), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicRunning - 2007-01-10

(correlates: ConstantCrisis, Metabo versus The Media, LonelinessAndFinality, ...)