Guest Post by Kevin Brown
There have been a number of recent books about being a female runner, including Lauren Fleshman’s Good for a Girl; Kara Goucher’s The Longest Race; Alison Mariella Désir’s Running While Black; and Des Linden’s Choosing to Run. Similarly, there have been several relatively recent books about the benefits of exercise (running, in particular) to help slow down the aging process, including Daniel Levitin’s Successful Aging and Daniel Lieberman’s Exercised. In her Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer, Margaret Webb was on track to explore both areas almost a decade ago. Webb blends research and memoir in this work to delve into the ways running can keep people younger and healthier, especially how it benefits women.
Inspired by her mother and sister, Webb decides to become more serious about running, spending a year training for a World Masters half-marathon. Drawing on her background in journalism, she interviews experts on exercise science and some of the world record holders who are in the sixties, seventies, and beyond. She uses that information to shape her own training, certainly, but, more importantly, she wants readers to see how important it is to stay active as we age. She consistently references the growing body of research that shows how one can remain active well past the traditional retirement age and the multitude of benefits that activity can have, as she focuses on the quality of one’s life as much as the quality of that life.
Webb draws inspiration from the runners she interviews (often, fittingly, while running), but she also serves as an inspiration herself. She, like most of the runners she talks to, doesn’t feel they are extraordinary, though the one question she is unable to answer is what motivates some people to remain active, while others become more and more sedentary. Reading this book certainly serves to motivate, as Webb’s enthusiasm is infectious.
Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer by Margaret Webb. Rodale Press, 2014.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.