After reading Ira’s first book, From Fat Man to Green Man, I had followed him on Twitter as he continued his ultrarunning challenges so when I heard he had a new book out I was looking forward to reading it. I remember him tweeting his exploits during the Transgrancanaria race so reading the full story and all the emotions behind it was really moving.
In this book, Ira challenges himself to complete a 100 mile foot race so the book is about the build up, and the downs, to completing his first 100 miler. I could read about ultra running stories forever because the mentality of a somebody who runs huge distances for fun really fascinates me, but this book really explores how running crazy long distances helped Ira grapple with his depression, feel something, and give him the skills to use his mind to real positive effect.
I have been an advocate for a while of how running can improve mental health. I have never personally been diagnosed with depression, but I do suffer low moments where I want to hide from the world, and occasional anxiety, as I’m sure most of us do in this busy, demanding world we inhabit, and I know from experience the best way to deal with that is to get back to basics, go for a run and feel truly alive, so Ira’s story really resonated with me. I have also been harbouring a not-so-secret urge to compete in an ultra event myself for a couple of years now, but I’ve never quite had the guts to press the enter button and commit to anything.
This book is a really honest account of Ira’s battles with his own mind, and his legs, and he genuinely makes you feel as though anything is possible when you set your mind to it. I loved the accounts of his nighttime adventures and conquering his fears of the dark, and they reminded me a lot of ultra running great Dean Karnazes’ nighttime adventures in the first ever ultra running book I read.
Ira also has a great sense of humour, and I did chuckle a lot at his sarcasm through this book. He is also such a normal bloke, not trying to win races, simply trying to challenge himself by doing something meaningful to him. I also love that the main moral of the book seems to be, if you fall, simply pick yourself back up and get back on the horse. A very empowering book.
My favourite quote – which I’ve written in my 2017 training journal – is “…it is always worth it. Regardless of what has gone before, create adventure, whatever that might be.”
Thanks Ira – I’ve decided to run my first ultra in 2017. I’ll let you know how it goes!