We’re only a few days into the new year, and like every year, people make commitments to better themselves physically and mentally during the coming year. But what if you didn’t have time to “prepare” yourself and had to become a better version of yourself in an instant?
In debut novelist Dave Essinger’s Running Out, the tenacity of the human mind and body is put to the test as an elite endurance runner is stranded with his injured wife and young daughter following a plane crash.
Each chapter is succinctly written, some over the span of a few pages, others much longer as protagonist, Dan Collins, races across the remote Canadian tundra to get help for his family. Dan spends much of the book in flashbacks about his college days, where he studied physical therapy and trained in cross-country. Little did Dan know that his training would become crucial to his and his family’s survival many years later.
For a first-time author, Essinger’s words reflect a seasoned author who knows how to captivate an audience. He captures his characters at their highest highs and lowest lows, making them relatable to readers of all types. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to appreciate the endurance Dan has to muster throughout the novel. In fact, for a non-athlete like myself, I was fascinated by the degree of detail Essinger goes to describe how marathon runners build endurance and how the human body is able to overcome extremes like fatigue and dehydration.
One of the underlying themes of the book is endurance and perseverance, the pace of which is reflected in the long and short chapters throughout the book. Before you know it, you’ll be halfway through and cheering Dan along as he uses wit and curiosity to rescue his family.
The book is also a metaphor of sorts – just like marathon running requires an inordinate amount of endurance and will-power, so does life. In addition to describing how the body is able to adapt and persevere through running upwards of 100 miles in one go, Essinger also delves into the damage it can do to the body as well. In the final pages of the book, Dan recounts during a run how “he felt every cell of muscle that it cannibalized, the full price it cost as his body mercilessly ate itself for fuel. It was a sublimation, a chemical transubstantiation, matter into energy, self into motion.”
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to fiction and non-fiction lovers alike. I found both the characters themselves and the storyline as a whole so dynamic, I couldn’t put the book down. Essinger takes a thoughtful approach to introducing the world of ultra running and I never once felt lost in his descriptions. While I may not be able to pick up and dash across a finish line anytime soon, I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the physical and mental dedication it takes others to acccomplish such feats. Moreover, I found this book to be a good reminder to take a step back and really appreciate how much our bodies are capable if we just change our mindset and see how far we can go.
To learn more about the author, who lives with his wife, children, and generally adequate cat, check out his website here.
I received this book complimentary on behalf of the publisher, but all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. All photography featured in this post is my own unless noted otherwise; please seek permission before copying or reproducing the images.
Purchase this title — Running Out
Score Card: Cover Art 4/5 | Content 5/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
Book Stats: Running Out by Dave Essinger
Page Count- 235