Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich

By Audrey Andrews | May 7th, 2020

Why We Run settled nicely into my Amazon “Save for Later” list years ago. The miles ticked by. I ran a marathon, then another, and an ultra marathon to top it off. As I write this, there are exactly 223 books on this list, so it’s no surprise Why We Run was lost. 

Readers may know I lead the New York chapter of the Alpine Trails Book Club. The February book was Winter World by Bernd Heinrich. I found the book unduly scientific and quickly removed Why We Run from my Amazon list. I rarely do such a thing, demonstrating my distaste for Winter World

Two months later, I found myself at my parents’ home, working fully remote as COVID-19 swept across the globe. A colleague I ran biweekly with on Monday mornings penned praise of Why We Run in an email. With months of races canceled, I knew I could use a new form of motivation. So, Why We Run skipped the list and went straight into my cart. 

Wonderfully, Heinrich redeemed himself. He seamlessly chronicles his trek towards his first 100 kilometer race. Despite never having raced the distance, he aimed to win. Interspersed between Heinrich’s training recaps are studies of endurance animals for laypeople. Heinrich examines bees, birds, antelope and camels in the hope of uncovering the secrets of ceaseless movement.

Far from overly scientific, these bouts were fascinating features of the lives of animals who just don’t stop. Seemingly strange evolutionary features, like a camel’s hump, transform them into endurance phenoms. From each, there is much to be learned. 

Further, Heinrich successfully employs flashbacks to exhibit from where his love of running emanates. The memoir facets of Why We Run are poignant ventures into Heinrich’s past. They help the reader better understand aspects of Heinrich and enhance the wholesome nature of the read. 

Although I cannot say whether Heinrich was successful in his attempt to become the 100 kilometer champion for fear of spoiling the book, I can say to read Why We Run, and I will. My experience was so redemptive that I may pick up Summer World.

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