Sunday, March 24, 2013

Runner's Bookshelf: "Do Life" by Ben Davis

I remember the first time I saw the video. I don't know where I heard about it -- maybe someone posted it on Facebook, or maybe I heard about it from someone at work. I watched the video at my desk at work, and -- like many people -- was crying pretty darn hard by the end.


Ben Davis's "My 120 Pound Journey" video was so moving, so touching, that I immediately sent it out to my Marketing colleagues. Within a few minutes, I could hear people crying all over the office. I noticed that in some of the video clips, Ben was wearing a pair of Brooks shoes. I looked up his Tumblr account, found an email address for him, and asked if we could send him a fresh pair of kicks -- it looked like he needed them.

He seemed thrilled by the offer, so I sent him some shoes, and that was kinda it. Well, except for the fact that, when I needed a bit of inspiration, I'd go back and watch the video again.

I was always happy to spot Ben somewhere -- when we appeared on the cover of Runner's World, for example, or when he was on the Today show. And I was sorry not to have known when he was in Seattle as part of his "Do Life" tour -- I would have liked to actually meet him.

 Ben's new book, not surprisingly called "Do Life", is like getting to spend a few hours with Ben. He tells his story with honesty and humor, starting with childhood disappointments (Amanda Gray, how could you?} and the food addiction, gambling, and other destructive behaavior that he indulged in until he hit bottom.
"...bottoming out can be a positive thing, because there's only one direction you can go from there. But the truth is that you only bottom out when you decide that this is your bottom. If you let yourself, there will always further to fall."
A moment of inspiration, provided by his grandmother, led to Ben and his brother signing up for a 5K 17 days later, despite the fact that Ben had only ever run a couple of tims in his life, and he had no idea what a 5K was. "Sometimes in life you just have to jump in."

Ben completed that 5K... and then kept on running, eventually completing marathons and even becomeong an Ironman -- somethinig I don't know if I even DREAM about doing. The book recounts his story, with plenty of laughs along the way. But this book isn't just a mini-biography. Ben peppers his tale with plenty of advice for runners who are just starting out, or even runners who have just fallen into a rut. Possibly my favorite part of the book was the chapter called "Turning the Corner", which is about getting back on track:
"Don't sit around and worry that you'll never get your mojo back. Trust that it's going to happen. Simply buckle down and push harder than you've been pushing. Get mad and get strong. Use your frustration and disappointment in yourself to your own benefit."
Ben also incluldes training plans ranging from 5K to Ironman, nutrition advice, and even a 25-week running journal. Though I won't use running journal (I prefer journalling electronically), I can imagine that I'll dip into this book every now and again when I need a little inspiration.

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