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The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training

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Anyone can run a marathon. Dawn Dais makes it a little more bearable--and a lot more fun Dawn Dais hated running. And it didn't like her much, either. Her fitness routine consisted of avoiding the stairs in her own house, because who really has the energy to climb stairs? It was with this exercise philosophy firmly in place that she set off to complete a marathon. The Nonr Anyone can run a marathon. Dawn Dais makes it a little more bearable--and a lot more fun Dawn Dais hated running. And it didn't like her much, either. Her fitness routine consisted of avoiding the stairs in her own house, because who really has the energy to climb stairs? It was with this exercise philosophy firmly in place that she set off to complete a marathon. The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women is the ideal training manual for women who don't believe that running is their biological destiny but who dream of crossing the finish line nonetheless. Nonrunners offers a realistic training schedule and is chock-full of how-to's and funny observations, which she felt were lacking in the guides she had consulted. She also integrates entries from her journal, sharing everything would-be marathoners need to know about the gear, the blisters, the early morning workouts, the late-night carb binges, and most important of all, the amazing rewards. Running may not seem like a friendly endeavor, but with Dawn Dais, you can tame the beast and hit the marathon trail.


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Anyone can run a marathon. Dawn Dais makes it a little more bearable--and a lot more fun Dawn Dais hated running. And it didn't like her much, either. Her fitness routine consisted of avoiding the stairs in her own house, because who really has the energy to climb stairs? It was with this exercise philosophy firmly in place that she set off to complete a marathon. The Nonr Anyone can run a marathon. Dawn Dais makes it a little more bearable--and a lot more fun Dawn Dais hated running. And it didn't like her much, either. Her fitness routine consisted of avoiding the stairs in her own house, because who really has the energy to climb stairs? It was with this exercise philosophy firmly in place that she set off to complete a marathon. The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women is the ideal training manual for women who don't believe that running is their biological destiny but who dream of crossing the finish line nonetheless. Nonrunners offers a realistic training schedule and is chock-full of how-to's and funny observations, which she felt were lacking in the guides she had consulted. She also integrates entries from her journal, sharing everything would-be marathoners need to know about the gear, the blisters, the early morning workouts, the late-night carb binges, and most important of all, the amazing rewards. Running may not seem like a friendly endeavor, but with Dawn Dais, you can tame the beast and hit the marathon trail.

30 review for The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I picked up The (Non)Runner's Marathon Guide for Women last month after finishing Claire Kowalchik's book about running for women (you can read the review here). I wanted a running book with which I could better relate. I'm a super slow runner and didn't even make it onto any of the charts in Kowalchik's book, which was a little defeating for me. So when I read about Dais' book, which tracks her struggle through training for a marathon, while also giving great tips for people who have never real I picked up The (Non)Runner's Marathon Guide for Women last month after finishing Claire Kowalchik's book about running for women (you can read the review here). I wanted a running book with which I could better relate. I'm a super slow runner and didn't even make it onto any of the charts in Kowalchik's book, which was a little defeating for me. So when I read about Dais' book, which tracks her struggle through training for a marathon, while also giving great tips for people who have never really run before, or haven't run much at least. I loved this book because I related so well with the things Dais talked about. She talked about feeling discouraged because every time she went out for a run she would end up right back where she started. She also describes her first trip to the running store where she learned about the importance of shoe fit, spandex and bodyglide (which I had never heard of until reading this book). She includes some great stretches, as well as a 20-week training schedule for both a marathon and a half marathon. She also leaves space for journaling, and for answering questions she poses, such as "Why are you running this marathon?" and "What was life like before you began training and after"? An example before and after from her book: Vitamins Before: Do the rainbow of fruit flavors in Skittles count? After: Pills the size of marshmallows washed down with one of my thirty-two gallons of water. For me, the best part of this book were the personal journal entries from when Dais was training for her own marathon. Dais' perspective is so true to how I think most new runners feel that it's hard not to laugh out loud (I couldn't read this book in public because I kept snorting at her writing). Here's a sample: "This weekend my little calendar o' runnin' said that I had to run sixteen miles. Is it me or is this number just getting ridiculous? Sixteen miles. What possible reason could one ever have for running sixteen miles? After about Mile 10, just call a cab and save yourself a lot of effort. Hell, call me. I'll give you a lift. Believe me, it's just not worth it. One fun fact about sixteen miles - that's about how far away hell is. I know you'd think it'd be farther away, at least as far as Fresno. But you'd be wrong. Actually, I think I hit hell around mile 14, so it's an even shorter trip." If you're new to running, or even if you've been running a long time, I highly suggest picking up Dais' book because it'll remind you of what it was like when you started and why you run. It'll also remind you that you're not the only one who suffers for running. If you are training for a marathon though, I suggest picking up some other books as well. Dais' book is great for moral support, but I think there are some others out there that would add a little more technical support, unless of course you have your own personal trainer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a huge disappointment. The author spends most of the book complaining about her training while offering little actual advice. She constantly refers readers to professional trainers since she has no experience in this area. Her reliance on sarcasm and self-deprecation grew wearisome and could not compensate for a lack of actual substance. Better reads include: The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener, and Tanjala Kole Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Ru This was a huge disappointment. The author spends most of the book complaining about her training while offering little actual advice. She constantly refers readers to professional trainers since she has no experience in this area. Her reliance on sarcasm and self-deprecation grew wearisome and could not compensate for a lack of actual substance. Better reads include: The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener, and Tanjala Kole Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance by Dagny Barrios

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I want to burn this book. I want to light a match under it and watch each page of this book go up in flames. That is how much I hate this book. I don’t like marking in books because it strikes me as somehow sacrilegious, but I want to watch this book burn. Unfortunately, it’s a library book, and there’s no way I’m paying to replace this waste of dead trees. On the one hand, Ms. Dais deserves congratulations for finding someone stupid enough to publish her inane ramblings. We should all be so luck I want to burn this book. I want to light a match under it and watch each page of this book go up in flames. That is how much I hate this book. I don’t like marking in books because it strikes me as somehow sacrilegious, but I want to watch this book burn. Unfortunately, it’s a library book, and there’s no way I’m paying to replace this waste of dead trees. On the one hand, Ms. Dais deserves congratulations for finding someone stupid enough to publish her inane ramblings. We should all be so lucky. To be fair, yes, parts of this book are entertaining. But the woman took over eight hours to complete a marathon – congratulations for finishing and nice job picking a marathon without a cap on official finishing times – but in what universe does that qualify her to dispense advice? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t. It didn’t take me long to realize this book was less a legitimate training guide and more of an unintentional satire. I thought that maybe it should have been labeled as such, but fine, I decided I would read it as a humorous piece. Unfortunately, Ms. Dais only has enough amusing material for, maybe, one eight-page essay. After that, it’s repetitive pessimistic whining phrased sarcastically (that the book did not end with Chipper Jen sipping a pineapple drink while leaving Ms. Dais fifty miles from civilization with no choice but to walk back with no one to listen to her whine is one of the great tragedies in modern literature). Let me save you the trouble of reading the book: I hate [spandex / sports bras / running] because I like whining. But I love [eating / Advil / my Laz-E-Boy] because I’m going to play up the couch potato angle up to an unrealistic degree. Ms. Dais then includes about ten sentences of legitimate advice over the course of the book’s two hundred pages (I’m not counting the “advice” that the vast majority of running books list in their “do not do this” sections). Oh, and the “training” schedule she includes? Not even the one she followed. Look, I don’t think everyone has to be a certified expert or a world-record holder to give advice on running a marathon, but I do expect a level of competency in a published book that couldn’t be exceeded by anyone who has run recreationally for two months and has read one legitimate training book. Someone could get better, more concise training tips by googling “how to train for a marathon” (ditto with amusing stories about running). For that matter, instead of reading this book, talk to friends and family members who either are or have been long-distance runners – they’ll probably have better advice and, as an added bonus, you get to spend time with people you like. Honestly, it disturbs me this book has such good reviews – although that might offer some insight into why so many runners end up injured every year. Not, not, not recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Laugh out loud funny. I can relate to many things the author encounters when starting to train for a marathon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brandi MacDougall

    Reading this book again to help me stay motivated in my training. 03/23/09 UPDATE: finished this book over the weekend and it was quite possibly the funniest book I've EVER read! I lost count as to how many times I laughed out loud, and not just giggle... but throw your head back and laugh until your stomach hurts laughing. Wonderful insight although, with all the pain and anguish she described in training for her first marathon and actually completing it (barely!) I'm not sure I'm very motivated Reading this book again to help me stay motivated in my training. 03/23/09 UPDATE: finished this book over the weekend and it was quite possibly the funniest book I've EVER read! I lost count as to how many times I laughed out loud, and not just giggle... but throw your head back and laugh until your stomach hurts laughing. Wonderful insight although, with all the pain and anguish she described in training for her first marathon and actually completing it (barely!) I'm not sure I'm very motivated to tackle one myself. Still, and awesome book and great writer though! OK so I bought this book today and I'm EXCITED to read it! I don't know if my goal is to actually run in a marathon, but I'd like to become a "semi-runner" just casually and/or for fun at least. The LA marathon is 03/02/08 - think I'll be ready? The Las Vegas marathon is 12/07/08, so if that's what I decide to train for then that one is MUCH more attainable. Either way... I'm excited to amp up my exercise regimine! Read bit of it, LOVE IT!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I hated this book. I notice the reviews for it swing wildly between 1 and 5 stars, so I know I am not the only one who hated it, but there are apparently people who like it too. So, if you like books by people who totally love how cute and funny they are, but kind of know they are not supposed to be like that so they use a lot of self-deprecating humor to try and disguise, making it take a long time to say anything and certainly not anything useful, this is the book for you! It is interesting to m I hated this book. I notice the reviews for it swing wildly between 1 and 5 stars, so I know I am not the only one who hated it, but there are apparently people who like it too. So, if you like books by people who totally love how cute and funny they are, but kind of know they are not supposed to be like that so they use a lot of self-deprecating humor to try and disguise, making it take a long time to say anything and certainly not anything useful, this is the book for you! It is interesting to me that my interest in running came from a book (Born to Run), and this book makes me feel like running is really stupid and gross and why would I ever want to do it? Also, other books have made me question what she's said. Sometimes when she probably had an opportunity to say something useful and concrete she squandered it with an attempt to be cute. I mean, why give a realistic number when you can say "gazillion". The target for non-runners is a lie because of the two training plans provided, even the lowest level one assumes you are walking 35 minutes regularly. There is nothing about getting to the point where you are at least reasonably active, which is not what the title implies. Therefore, while I understand that this book does have people who loved it, and they are probably not all her friends and relatives, I don't care; they're wrong. HATE!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Betsy Wolf

    As a fellow very-slow runner, I appreciated the humor and give mad props to a walk-runner just encouraging us running-challenged that we can do things and hurt and not do great. But at least feel satisfaction that we are trying.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    I enjoyed this book. You do not have to be training for a marathon to read it. If you have ever been a runner, trained for a race, want to do it someday, ran a marathon ten years ago, whatever... it's fun to read. It's part funny memoir of the author training for a marathon (as a total non runner), part training tips/advice (like what sort of running gear to get - NO SHORT SHORTS, for example). She's a funny woman. She'll make you laugh, but it's also all good advice. I've always wanted to run a I enjoyed this book. You do not have to be training for a marathon to read it. If you have ever been a runner, trained for a race, want to do it someday, ran a marathon ten years ago, whatever... it's fun to read. It's part funny memoir of the author training for a marathon (as a total non runner), part training tips/advice (like what sort of running gear to get - NO SHORT SHORTS, for example). She's a funny woman. She'll make you laugh, but it's also all good advice. I've always wanted to run a marathon. The dumbest thing I ever did was not train for and run one while my husband was deployed, because I was still nursing back then. Somewhere I read that you shouldn't be nursing and training for a marathon at the same time, because your body can't take it and you'll die. Whatever. I had the most free time and was in the best shape ever back then, and Benjamin slept like a baby in his jogging stroller. Instead I waited, and got stopped three times with weird injuries. Then I signed up for the St George Marathon this spring and got rejected (not drawn in the lottery). Then I got lazy about the marathon dream. Then I got pregnant. Now I just read books about running and stick with way more fun exercise options, like TurboKick and baking pie. It's possible I still have years ahead of me where I can run a marathon. Like next year, for example. And screw the no marathon training while nursing advice. That's my advice. Listen to your body and forget what medical experts tell you. I do have one serious complaint with this book. When she ran her marathon, she got her walkman stuck on the hip hop station at mile 6, and it was when the song "Milkshake" was popular. She even wrote the lyrics in her book. I'd heard the song, but never had a clue what the lyrics were. Now I know the lyrics, and the song has been in my head day and night for two days straight, since I read it. Here's the lyrics for your annoyance, as well: My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, And they're like "It's better than yours", (BEEP!) right it's better than yours, I can teach you, but I have to charge. I don't even know what it means. Is her "milkshake" her boobs? Like she's lactating, and shaking them? What else would bring boys to the yard? Is she charging people to teach them how to shake their boobs? I am totally confused. But the song will never leave my head, ever again. Especially if I run a marathon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    susie

    This book tells it like it is, and is HILARIOUS. I started this book after I'd already been running for almost a year and pretty much hating it the whole time. It was SO refreshing, motivating and encouraging to read that someone else was feeling the same challenges in running that I'm experiencing, but was still successfully training and eventually starting to enjoy it & be really good at it! In some ways, this book is a cautionary tale (knee problems!) but as a motivator, it was tops. And like This book tells it like it is, and is HILARIOUS. I started this book after I'd already been running for almost a year and pretty much hating it the whole time. It was SO refreshing, motivating and encouraging to read that someone else was feeling the same challenges in running that I'm experiencing, but was still successfully training and eventually starting to enjoy it & be really good at it! In some ways, this book is a cautionary tale (knee problems!) but as a motivator, it was tops. And like I said, it's hilarious - I laughed with the author and felt better about my own struggles since they were often similar. Reading it made me wish I had a running partner like Dawn (or hell, even a friend like Dawn...that girl is funny) and encouraged me to seek out other people going through the same experience of learning to run.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Although I've called myself a "runner" for nearly 2 years now, I could totally relate to Dawn's descriptions of some of her bad runs. She was very funny yet still pretty motivating....until the end. I have played with the idea of running a marathon and I really, really want to do it but am really not sure if my body will be able to finish. And after reading this book, I have to ask myself if I'm ready to NOT finish or possibly finish but with massive amounts of pain? A decent book and will searc Although I've called myself a "runner" for nearly 2 years now, I could totally relate to Dawn's descriptions of some of her bad runs. She was very funny yet still pretty motivating....until the end. I have played with the idea of running a marathon and I really, really want to do it but am really not sure if my body will be able to finish. And after reading this book, I have to ask myself if I'm ready to NOT finish or possibly finish but with massive amounts of pain? A decent book and will search out the author for more.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I have been trying to keep myself motivated to run and while I have no intentions of actually running a marathon, I do want to start running in some 5Ks. This book not only motivated me but I laughed out loud a lot! Merged review: I laughed out loud while reading this book. The great thing was it entertained and educated. While I'm not planning on running a marathon it motivated me to get my butt off the couch and start running again. I loved this book and read it one Sunday afternoon.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    So easy to follow if you want to run your first marathon! But you need to follow it as is, I started to early for my training, and when it came to the marathon, unfortunately I wasn't ready to run, and was also out with the national guard. But I do plan on running a marathon in the future!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maythe

    Loved i. It really shows what running a marathon for a normal average girl, feels like. I can relate to some of the statements and made me rethink some others. But most important, it shows that one can do things when one's mind and heart work together.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    This was a funny book. As for training/encouraging me to push through with my personal running goals... ehhh. But I laughed a lot at Dawn's expense.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samyra

    This was pretty funny. It cracked me up along the way.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    This is laugh out loud funny and very motivating!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Makini

    I think this book was ok. I read it in a couple of days, which I always enjoy. The author is obviously clever and funny and it is perfect for someone who is in training and needs something fun and non-academic to motivate them to continue. That was the reason I picked it up. However, it is non-academic, and while her stories are entertaining, most people who have been around the block, won't learn any tangible skills to improve their running, or work through injury etc. The other reason I didn't I think this book was ok. I read it in a couple of days, which I always enjoy. The author is obviously clever and funny and it is perfect for someone who is in training and needs something fun and non-academic to motivate them to continue. That was the reason I picked it up. However, it is non-academic, and while her stories are entertaining, most people who have been around the block, won't learn any tangible skills to improve their running, or work through injury etc. The other reason I didn't give it 3 stars is that there are parts of the book where I feel like she missed the mark with regard to her humor. I understand that she was only trying to be funny, but there is often a cost to humor that references negative stereotypes of an already marginalized group. For example, she spends a significant time going on about how bad it was that her walkman gets stuck on a hip hop station during the marathon and she is forced to listen to Kelis's Milkshake song repeatedly. In this case something traditionally created by and for black people is considered negative or sub-optimal compared to dominant culture (aka white culture). In another case she mentions that she has a friend who is a tall black man who says something like 'if you've got it, flaunt it' in reference to her breast. In this case a black man references a white woman's body, which plays on the erroneous stereotype that black men are overly-sexual and out of control which implies that they are also predatory and dangerous particularly to white women. Again, she wasn't thinking all these things when she wrote the book. I'm sure it made sense at the time. But we have to be careful about how what we say and do contributes to harmful stereotypes about people who have to live with the consequences, i.e., black people being dehumanized to the point that they are immediately considered dangerous and killed by police or neighborhood watchmen without question or consequence. Extreme, I know, but it all matters; even the small things. It was a decent book and entertaining.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zoe MacKenzie

    Fully disclosure: I am not a runner. I don’t even care about running. I’m thinking about starting running. Maybe. I really don’t know. What I do know, is that I loved this book. It was laugh out loud funny. Literally, I would be sitting on the streetcar on the way home from work and I’d be laughing as I was reading this book. If you like Jenny Lawson I think you will like Dawn Dais. I would not recommend reading this book if you’re looking for serious running advice. I would recommend this book Fully disclosure: I am not a runner. I don’t even care about running. I’m thinking about starting running. Maybe. I really don’t know. What I do know, is that I loved this book. It was laugh out loud funny. Literally, I would be sitting on the streetcar on the way home from work and I’d be laughing as I was reading this book. If you like Jenny Lawson I think you will like Dawn Dais. I would not recommend reading this book if you’re looking for serious running advice. I would recommend this book if you want a reason to laugh, be a bit inspired and, in the meantime, not take yourself too terribly seriously.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I started reading this book before running a 10 mile race, and finished it before beginning training for my first half-marathon (13 miles). For anyone just starting running, or getting back into it, or undertaking their first long run, this is the book to read. Not only does it give you the information and tips you need, but also the sarcastic camaraderie you need on the rough days. I was laughing through each section even as I was wracking up the miles and facing each hurdle. This book will ma I started reading this book before running a 10 mile race, and finished it before beginning training for my first half-marathon (13 miles). For anyone just starting running, or getting back into it, or undertaking their first long run, this is the book to read. Not only does it give you the information and tips you need, but also the sarcastic camaraderie you need on the rough days. I was laughing through each section even as I was wracking up the miles and facing each hurdle. This book will make each mile seem possible.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Cole

    I almost gave this book fewer stars, but since I read most of it in a day, I must have enjoyed it a little. I purchased this book at a used book store because it was cheap and looked funny. It was funny, or I could see how it would be funny for someone who hates running. Really, as someone who loves running, this was not the book for me. I find it difficult to comprehend how someone who doesn't at least kind of like running would register for a marathon.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    At first, I thought the author's comments, about how much she didn't like training and how insane the idea was to run a marathon, were going to be exactly the opposite of inspiring and helpful. But as I read thru the book, I realized it really just made the story more real, more human, more relatable. I found myself laughing out loud in some places, and nearly crying with her at the end. Lots of good advice for non-elitist runners who are very new to the sport of marathon running....like me!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Krysak

    Some funny content but it got annoying after awhile. It was like she was trying to make a joke about something in every sentence. It seemed that the writer was relying on creating humor rather than focusing on advice for people wanting to train for a marathon. Felt like she was giving us reasons to NOT train in a marathon.

  23. 5 out of 5

    becky

    quick and easy read but not something I'd read again and again

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Schroeder

    Very funny and relatable!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Shaw

    Great introduction to marathon running!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This was a fun book, especially if you are also a non-runner attempting a half or full marathon.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth Gross

    A hilarious and inspiring account of Dawn's experience training and running her first marathon.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lexi

    Dawn has such a quick wit and makes for a fun, motivational read. Still curious if she actually lost her kneecaps though?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was funny and definitely deterred me from wanting to actually run a marathon. I didn’t know that people who run full marathons have to pick a charity to raise money for.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    A good first read for considering a marathon, but certainly not as informative as a book written by someone who runs marathons every year would be.

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