Sunday, November 15, 2015

Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon (Ed Caesar)

Many of us have never run a marathon and never will.  Wrapping my head around the concept of finishing a marathon, let alone doing it in two hours, is almost unfathomable.  Ed Caesar tackles this concept in Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon.  The two-hour marathon is something now obtainable according to scientists and is a goal for the elite marathoners of the world, who Caesar chronicles as they go through training for several races around the world each year.

Caesar talks about the world of marathon running and how preparation has changed over time as record times have slowly come down and the two hour barrier, once thought to be unobtainable, has approached like a runner approaching the finish line after a long race.  The book talks about those advances from both the scientific perspective as well as ground truth, capturing the stories of runners and the advances in everything from clothing the runners wear to the training they participate in as part of the ritual.

The book reads well and provides those who are into running a nice background into the advances of the sport.  It likely will not get you inspired to go out and run in New York, Philadelphia, or any other marathon any time soon.  However, Caesar smartly advocates how running is one of the few sports where rich and poor can come together and run the same race and how those from dire economic circumstances can rise to the top of their sport.  Even if you have no desire to lace up your sneakers and run, if you're interested in how the human body can adapt and how we can continue to break records in a sport, it's worth your time and effort to read Two Hours.