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An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing…

An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age (2011)

by John "The Penguin" Bingham

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I'm not a runner, but I have friends who are. I found this book to be interesting, but a bit repetitive at times. ( )
  jrsearcher | Feb 12, 2015 |
I'm waffling on whether to give this two or three stars. Two seems low, but the description "it was ok" matches it better than "I liked it."

The good: Bingham has a great storytelling voice and he offers a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm. He is a great counterweight to the idea that running must be an elite activity for only the very fit. He tells us that runners are people who run, no more, no less. There is a lot of encouragement, empathy, and folk wisdom inside these pages. As a fatass who in his late 30's is trying to leave years of sloth, smoking, and overeating behind, I am encouraged by Bingham's personal stories.

The not-so-good: this is more of a self-help book than a running book. That is not necessarily a problem, but Bingham knows how to tell a story and he knows how to work a crowd. As an end result, I don't trust his words as much as I might. Have you ever talked to a really excellent sales-person and then not be certain whether you want to buy the product because you don't trust your own enthusiasm for it? I get that feeling after reading Bingham. Does he make me feel better about running because running is a great thing or does he make me feel better about running because his words convey enthusiasm convincingly?

I like this book and I'd love to buy Bingham a beer, but I'm left feeling like I've just heard a particularly skilled evangelical preacher give his testimony and make an altar call. I'm buying what he's selling, but I don't fully trust the surge in enthusiasm I feel for it. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
John Bingham is what he describes as an “accidental athlete” or an “adult-onset athlete”. At 43 years old, after years of eating, smoking and drinking too much, he started running. I think I enjoyed this book so much because I could relate to so much of what the author experienced in his life. He was a kid who wanted to play sports and had fun playing sports but wasn’t very good at them. When the day came that he figured out he wasn’t very good, he didn’t want to play anymore.

He had a lucrative career, great house, several motorcycles – all the trappings of success. He thought he has happy. It wasn’t until one day when he decided to move more that he realized life could be better. He started with biking and then decided to try running. When he first started, he ran a 30 minute mile! Even now he is a middle of the pack runner, which I can totally identify with. I really appreciated his philosophies on running; that it’s okay to be slow and the goal really should be to have fun.

The author does get a little repetitive at times, mentioning things in later chapters that he’s already said in previous chapters but it wasn’t enough to get on my nerves. I’m still recovering from surgery so I can’t run right now but after reading his book I really want to get out there again. I’ll probably re-read it when I’m able to actually run again. If you are an accidental or adult-set athlete or even someone who’s been running for most of your life, I think you will really enjoy this book. ( )
  mcelhra | Sep 12, 2011 |
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"John Bingham is a beloved evangelist of running. Known by fans as "The Penguin" for his gentle humor and back-of-the-pack speed, Bingham's memoir An Accidental Athlete explores with wit and poignancy his evolution from a bespectacled fat kid in the 1950s to unlikely hero of the modern running movement. Bingham remembers unfulfilled childhood dreams of athletic glory seen through Coke-bottle glasses, his unhealthy sedentary years as he chased a career, and his epiphany at age 43, when he stirred from the couch, found his mojo, became a runner, and rediscovered himself. An Accidental Athlete is a warm, engagingly written, feel-good book for the everday athlete who is sure to recognize him or herself somewhere in these pages"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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