my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise
As some of you know, I absolutely love reading, whether it is historical fiction (think Robert Harris, Simon Scarrow), general running books (e.g. The Art of Running Faster, Born to Run), or athlete autobiographies (Seb Coe, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, the Brownlee brothers, The Sky’s the Limit (Team Sky). Every now and again I’ll be writing about my impressions of books that I’ve enjoyed, and this post is just one of those times.
He is known, among other things, as ‘The Lightning Bolt,’ ‘The Fastest Man on the Planet’ and VJ to his family and friends. He is Usain Bolt. The man who has run 100 metres faster than any other human being ever to live. 9.58 seconds. Rapid.
From reading his autobiography, either he is a very misunderstood person, or he’s someone who has managed to get the most creative autobiography writer in the world to craft something entirely fictitious. I say this because I felt that the Usain Bolt I read about was not the Usain Bolt I thought I ‘knew’ from the coverage of his races I’ve been fortunate enough to watch.
The book shows a Usain away from the hype, someone striving to be the best he can be, despite an inner self that he battles with, who constantly seems to tell him not to try so hard. This is an underlying theme throughout the story, and one that makes his achievements all the more impressive.
While he might have natural speed, he also has scoliosis (curvature of the spine – which also does not help him at all in his running the curve in his favoured 200m event) and needs regular medical attention and injections to ease the condition.
I laughed out loud at times at some of the honest statements he makes, such as how he went down the 100m rather than 400m route. Or the accident that he emerged from miraculously that raised his awareness of his talent up another notch. I won’t reveal the stories here, that’s for you to discover for yourself, if you’re interested.
Usain Bolt shows a genuine love for track and field, for Jamaica, and for his country team-mates.
The Point of No Return
One of the most pertinent points I took away from the book though, was what he describes as ‘The Point of No Return.’ Bolt describes how, in training, he’ll get to the point where he’s physically sick, or completely whacked and can’t go on any more. This, he calls ‘The Point of No Return.’ It is at this point that you can easily stop and say you’ve had a good session, worked hard, etc. But Usain has learnt, or had it impressed upon him, that it is from this point onwards in the training session, that the greatest of benefits are found. When you’re pushing on from this point, you’re finding out more about your mentality, hardening yourself to the pain, pushing past the barrier that mere mortals can bear, and into another realm. A realm in which you start to massively increase the benefits of your training, where running form means more than it did before, where your technical abilities are brought into harsh judgement, where your stamina and endurance really make leaps forward in progress.
It is likely that Usain and his professional writer friend, Matt Allen, have said it better than I’ve done in the book, but I think I’ve covered it pretty accurately.
It is this ‘Point of No Return’ that I perhaps have experienced just a couple of times in my running. Once was when I effectively tried to sprint up a hill six times in succession. I really felt like it killed me, and I was ready to stop after three times. I cannot tell you the sense of achievement I felt when I’d completed the sixth rep! You can actually see this workout here: http://www.strava.com/activities/77995207
If being a successful track athlete means getting into this state of exhaustion frequently, then I can well imagine why being an athlete is so demanding. My goodness!
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about what makes Usain Bolt tick, his background and upbringing. Or anyone wanting to learn more about what it takes to be a professional athlete, or just to gain some inspiration for the next time they step out the door for a run. It inspired me, and I can’t wait to get out for my next run!
Have you read Usain Bolt’s book? What did you think of it? Will you check it out now you’ve read this review?