Review by Mark McKeigue I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. A friend of mine had been reading it and telling me what the author was talking about having done and it was really up my street. He thought he was mad but I suspected his way of thinking wasn’t too far of my own at times. Something appeals to me about long distance stuff. It makes the challenge of the race psychological as well as physical.
The early part of the book tells us about the author, Christopher Bergland. He tells us about his experience of winning the Triple Ironman(11.4km swim, 540km bike, 126k run) three times in a row, completing the badlands marathon (135 mile run through death valley in 130 degree heat) and his world record distance for 24 hours on a treadmill of 153.76 miles. I must say he does this in a graceful fashion, never coming across as gloating or anything, too humble if anything. His reasons for telling us appear to be so we’ll understand where he’s coming from with the rest of the book.
The subtitle of the book is Sweat and The Biology of Bliss. He talks of flow and runners high and what goes on chemically and scientifically when we exercise. He explores the changes in the brain that take place. He attempts to dissect the neuropsychology of exercise and what goes on with neurons firing when we exercise and explores the area of visualization. He talks of that place athletes get to on most sessions and races, for a short time where you’re just in the zone and can’t feel the pain and calls this place superfluidity. He explores way to reach superfluidity for longer and at will and make racing and training more comfortable.
He does all this in a really interesting way, using personal experience, and observations for examples. The book is full of great quotes, two or three on some pages from great athletes, leaders, and also from people who I’ve never even heard of!!! Some of were motivating, some were bizarre and some were just totally out there but they all fitted in very well to what was going on in the book and made it into a great read.
“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same” Unknown
“You should never give up too soon. You can always get one more spoon of juice out of a grapefruit.” Milt Weiss
“Someone’s boring me. I think it’s me” Dylan Thomas
The book also goes down the route of training advice but it does it very well and from a completely new angle. It explores how to get to the tonic levels of exercise that produce the most happiness, and what type of workouts will leave you feeling in what ways, like what will leave you lethargic, what will give you energy etc.
All in all I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it for all athletes, I would suggest it as a must for anybody into long distance stuff as you’ll really identify with author.