– Richard Askwith
Published: 2014, Yellow Jersey
Source: Review Copy
Richard Askwith wanted more. Not convinced running had to be all about pounding pavements, buying fancy kit and racking up extreme challenges, he looked for ways to liberate himself. His solution: running through muddy fields and up rocky fells, running with his dog at dawn, running because he’s being (voluntarily) chased by a pack of bloodhounds, running to get hopelessly, enjoyably lost, running fast for the sheer thrill of it. Running as nature intended.
Part diary of a year running through the Northamptonshire countryside, part exploration of why we love to run without limits, Running Free is an eloquent and inspiring account of running in a forgotten, rural way, observing wildlife and celebrating the joys of nature.
An opponent of the commercialisation of running, Askwith offers a welcome alternative, with practical tips (learned the hard way) on how to both start and keep running naturally – from thawing frozen toes to avoiding a stampede when crossing a field of cows. Running Free is about getting back to the basics of why we love to run.
As part of a university module, I had to write a feature on something that related to a talk happening at Words By The Water (happening in Keswick, starting from today!) and when I spotted Richard Askwith’s talk about Wild Running, I knew that was the one. The publishers kindly sent me this book to read and review, and it’s just made me so much more excited for his talk! (15:45 on Sunday ;) I’ll be there!)
I haven’t actually read a memoir style book in a while, but I have always loved them. For me, the most interesting part is being able to read about someone else’s life: reading about something which you may never get the chance to see/do yourself.
We hear many funny anecdotes, as Richard tells us of his journey through running and the situations he has been in. With plenty of jokes and humour, this book feels like a conversation and I could picture what was happening fairly easily. I especially liked chapter 13 – some great tips in there!
Richard also goes into the whole commercial aspect of running. So often we see adverts, shops, magazines and whatever else telling us how to start running, and what kit is ‘essential’, when in reality it isn’t really needed. He looks into the money making races, and makes you really think about why you run. I will admit, I sometimes fall into the trap of “Oh, that’s important. That will really help me when running!” when really I’m just wasting money for the sake of feeling ‘proper’.
If you like running, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. If you don’t like running, it may push you to get out there, but it could also put you off I guess… There are some things that you truly need to experience as a runner before you appreciate the positives! All in all, I really enjoyed this book and it did just make me want to get out there in the countryside. I’m looking forward to seeing his talk on Sunday, and I’ll most likely do a write up for that too!
My Rating – To see my book review rating guide click here.