Book Review: 50/50 by Dean Karnazes with Matt Fitzgerald


50/50 by Dean Karnazes: Book Cover

I have read both of Dean‘s books. Between reading UltraMarathon Man and 50/50, I had the pleasure of actually meeting and talking to him.  

50/50 – Secrets I have Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance…wow, I just realized the title is as long as the topic… is a quick read with good stories and good advice.

Snapshot of book: Stories of Dean’s life during his successful attempt to run 50 marathons in 50 cities in 50 days.  Includes lots of tips and tricks along the way.

Who will enjoy it: Anyone interested in Dean.  Anyone who enjoys getting good ideas around training and marathon running.  Anyone wondering how many calories you burn on such an adventure (over 160,000).

What the publisher says: “Now in this heart-pounding book, Dean reveals how he pulled off this unfathomable feat with a determination that defied all physical limitations.”

What I say:Dean’s books are a bit of an anomaly when taken in the context of other running books I have read.  They aren’t cathartic nor are they training guides.  I don’t think they are meant to inspire or to coach.  They come across more like a guy just telling some stories over dinner.  They are nice, easy to read, with a memorable arc and somewhat forgettable details.  Despite his good PR, there is nothing “heart pounding” about this book.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time.  It just means it’s a different way of spending your time than the book jacket might have you believe.

I like this book better than his first book because he offers a plethora of wisdom along the way.  Everything from “Trail-running Tips”, to “Race-Day Tips for Your First Marathon”, to tips for snacks, drinks, combating jet lag, qualifying for Boston, to a list of ten US cities with the cleanest air.  It sort of makes you feel like you are spending an evening in a bar with, well, Dean Karnazes.  You are asking every question that you can think of and he has an answer.

The other reason I like this book is that it makes me think, “If he can do it, I can do it.”  And I believe that is part of his purpose.  In both the written word and in person, Dean comes across as an “average guy” who just likes to run.  There is no ego in his style.  There is no blustering in his tone.  He believes running is a way to tackle a lot of the problems people face.  I tend to agree.  He wants more people to join his effort to get everyone out there running.  I would like to join his cause.  He never talks about his amazing accomplishments.  He talks about the amazing power of running and the impact it has on the people he meets.

I didn’t walk away from this book learning how to run 50 marathons in 50 days.  I didn’t walk away from this book thinking that Dean is a super human.  I walked away thinking, what a great way to spend 50 days.  Thanks for sharing your story and your cool ideas, Dean.  It’s a pleasure hearing what you have to say.


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