Book Review: Running for Mortals

Book: Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life Through Running

Author: John “The Penguin” Bingham & Coach Jenny Hadfield

Review by Anna Dawson

As I began reading this book I thought it was far too elementary for someone who has been running for over ten years. However, even though this book is geared towards beginning runners, I was surprised at how much I learned and enjoyed it.

After reading through this book I realized there was so much I didn’t know about running, and especially running for life. There is a lot of information about keeping your body healthy so running can be a sport you can enjoy for many years.

The authors, John and Jenny tell true stories of their own successes and failures. These two people are very easy to relate to and it is inspiring to hear where they have come from and the huge improvements they have made throughout their running journey. They make it clear that they did not start out as what people think of as a stereotypical runner, but as two very normal people who made their own decisions to change their lives through running.

The actual nuts and bolts of this book cover tips for getting started, sticking to a routine, eating right, hydration, and training for speed and endurance. They also give advice on warm-ups, strength training, stretching, and cross training.

There is a “Personal Inventory Form” that you are to complete early on in the book. At the end of the book you refer to the questions you answered to find the right training plan for you.

It is very important to choose the right plan based on your current amount of activity and your history of injuries. They also encourage you to not get too ambitious and add to the training plan. The distances and efforts are there for a reason and if you add to them you put yourself at a greater risk for injury.

This book explains everything that will happen to your body including the major changes to your cardiovascular system, skeletal system, and musculature system. The authors remind you that the difficulties you will face are normal. This book is very encouraging but also filled with technical advice and training information.

John and Jenny don’t put all of the focus on races, but rather on getting your body on the right path of being able to race. One common theme they refer to many times is that you just need the courage to start.

Many people set limits on their life that need to be removed. You need to live without limits and fear and stop worrying about what others may think about you. Anyone who starts a race is better off than the person sitting at home who didn’t have the courage to remove his or her own limitations.

It is important to remember that you don’t have to run fast or competitively to reap the rewards that running has to offer. You just have to make the conscious decision to be dedicated to your health and make your fitness a priority in your life.

I would advise anyone who is considering taking up running for the first time to read this entire book before they start. For those looking to keep themselves motivated to run, especially running for fun and health benefits, this is a great book for that needed inspiration.

I am looking forward to reading their next book, Marathoning for Mortals, as I move into the intimidating (for me) journey of training for a full marathon.

Anna Dawson is a guest book reviewer for She is a 26 year old runner living in MN. She has been running for 13 years.