Lady in cap, running clothes and running hydration vest smiles at camera. She is wearing a race number, 438
Credit: Merili Freear

Pale green book cover, Just Run by Merili Freear

This book is part autobiography, part running tips for beginners, and it packs a lot in, about all the facets of running, from those tentative first steps, to first 5k, to first marathon and ultra. It deals with injury, lack of motivation or self-confidence, buying your first proper running shoes, joining – and creating – a running group, trying canicross (running with your dog), a plant-based diet, dealing with incontinence as a runner, and much more.

Here’s a bit about the author, which I have taken from the end of the book:

Merili Freear began running in April 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown in England. Since then, she has run many thousands of miles, including two marathons and an ultra marathon. Through her experiences, Merili has learned that it’s possible to achieve things that may seem impossible at first glance.

Merili mostly runs alone and cherishes the positive impact it has on her mental health. Running solo has taught her that anything is possible and that our bodies are capable of much more than we think. Moreover, it has taught her that our minds are powerful tools, especially in endurance sports. It’s all about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Though she treasures her solo runs, Merili actively engages with the running community, recognising the power of shared experiences. Within a remarkably short time, she achieved England Athletics LiRF (Leadership in Running Fitness) and CiRF (Coach in Running Fitness) qualifications.

Just Run: Discovering My Love for Running and How the Impossible Becomes Possible is her first book and was written to inspire others to lace up their shoes and head out for that first run. She believes that running can enrich your life in many ways.
Originating from Estonia, she now lives in rural Lincolnshire, England, with her super supportive husband, son, and crazy schnauzer, Jack.

The book is divided into 3 sections: Parts 1 and 2 are chronological, and separate Merili’s introduction into running, with achieving lofty goals in a short space of time, including a first ultra marathon. The third section is a collection of chapters about different things, such as canicross, running books, treadmill running, running groups, and a whole variety of tips for beginners.

I enjoyed reading about Merili’s first steps into running, as she gradually builds confidence and goes beyond her street, to running her first marathon on her own. I felt like I was allowed to access Merili’s private thoughts and fears, and I identified a lot with all her anxieties about running.

It’s a very honest book, and it’s made me realise that a lot of things I personally worry about as a runner are things that also bother other people too, as I found myself nodding along to a lot of what Merili says in here.

I especially loved the chapter on ‘becoming a runner’ – that moment where Merili realises she is a runner (an epiphany we all have at some point) is not what I expected at all, it really made me smile.

Mental health is a recurring theme of this book, and disordered eating is also discussed.
This is a book that is written to inspire others to lace up their running shoes and get out there, and it certainly achieves that. Merili overcomes obstacles – self-doubt, injury, lack of motivation – and helps the reader understand that we all experience these at some time or another, and that they are not insurmountable. Beginners would find this useful – there are lots of tips in there, as well as useful pace charts and mile/kilometre conversions.

However, I’ve been running for many, many years and also found lots in there for me too – including an entire chapter dedicated to canicross, which I don’t often see written about in books.

I loved that the chapters are short, so it’s a very easy book to dip in and out of, even if you only have 5 minutes to spare at a time. I am also a busy mum, like Merili, so appreciated this format.

All in all, this is an inspiring read about all aspects of running, both positive and negative.

Genre: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 298