Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book review: What Makes Olga Run, by Bruce Grierson

I received a complimentary review copy of Bruce Grierson's What Makes Olga Run? from Amazon in exchange for a review.

I tend to put running books in two categories: those about how to run faster/better, and those about runners. This is in the latter category, so reading it is not likely to make you run faster or better - unless, of course, you aren't running at all right now but get inspired to start.

The main character in the book is Olga Kotelko, an international track star based on her incredible age-based records in a whole host of track events ranging from sprinting to high jumping to javelin throwing. She's doing this at 92 years old! A good deal of the book is about how she got into track at an advanced age (70+), what her training is like, and what scientists and doctors have learned about her from her voluntary cooperation with their research. Another part of the book is about author Bruce Grierson's developing friendship with Olga, and in the most self-critical parts, comparing his own relatively bad state of fitness to Olga's. Along the way, Grierson provides a lot of exposition about the current state of research about fitness and longevity. It concludes with a set of guidelines for living better; while readers are unlikely to be as dominant in the age 90-94 bracket as Olga is, the guidelines are workable.

I enjoyed the book. As a protagonist, Olga is not the most interesting person, but as a study in what is possible at such an age, and what tangible benefits result from such activity, she's pretty fascinating.

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