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  • Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

Review of Kara Goucher's Strong and Emelie Forsberg's Sky Runner

Updated: Jan 18

Blue Star Press recently published two quick read books by two world elite athletes - two-time American Olympian Kara Goucher and Swedish mountain runner and ultrarunner Emelie Forsberg. Both books will resonate with runners of all ages but will especially appeal to young female runners.

Kara Goucher's Strong: A Runner's Guid to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You is not your typical book about running and endurance. If you want to transform yourself into a confident runner, be prepared to reflect and write. Keeping a confidence journal helped Kara overcome her doubts and vulnerabilities as a runner. In Strong she shares excerpts from her confidence journal and techniques that have worked to make her a mentally stronger and confident runner.

For anyone experiencing insecurities and doubts about their running, keeping a confidence journal can help them to face and overcome their fears. Strong is essentially a guided blank journal book for the reader to complete at their own pace. Some of the guided questions and tasks include, for example, What is Your Biggest Long-term Goal, Running or Otherwise? and List Three Recurring Worries That Hold You Back.

Strong also provides techniques, such as positive self-talk, mantras, and visualization to help overcome doubt and boost confidence. Power pose, cognition (what you wear as a runner affects performance), setting goals, and social media also increase confidence. The book is filled with affirmation quotes and power words in bright pink and other colorful font.

Writing, like running, requires discipline and pacing. If you're not a writing enthusiast, you might find the blank pages and the over 25 prompts overwhelming. But if you want to boost your confidence, be Strong and put pen to paper, and reflect on how you plan to build mental toughness and boost your running confidence.

In a mix of stream of consciousness writing and philosophical thoughts, in Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness, and Balance in Your Running, Emelie Forsberg, a biology major turned world-class mountain runner and ultrarunner for a living, shares her passion for nature, and running. She writes, "I love the feeling of fast and smooth movement of downhill...pure freedom...I barely touch the ground...." Uphill racing is a bit tougher.

A Salomon Team athlete, Emelie runs freely without training schedules or coaches. She writes, "Training should be playful" and "something you want to do, not something you have to has to be joyful." She trains everyday. And while she has endued obstacles and barriers, she's learned from them. She writes, "I think of barriers as a thick fog: if you take a step forward that massive darkness, you realize that's it's only air."

Sky Runner consists of eight chapters. Each chapter is interspersed with stunning and some jaw-dropping color photographs, many taken by her partner Kilian Jornet, of Emelie climbing and running about in her element - the forest trail and snow-capped mountains. Tips for balancing and stretching, downhill and uphill racing, fartlek and interval training, and yoga poses are illustrated with Emelie in action and are intermingled through out the chapters.

If you are a gardener, you will enjoy reading about the relationship between gardening and ultrarunning. Both require patience and dedication. As a flower and vegetable gardener, and an ordinary ultrarunner, this chapter joyfully resonates with me. Emelie, a vegetarian, is also a gardener, who "needs a lot of food to feel strong. And something sweet afterwards" because it's good for her "soul," grows her own food. Sky Runner contains fifteen recipes and appetizing color photos.

While the table of contents is a bit confusing as the titles of the chapters are ordered by the page where the chapter begins, and not the chapter number, the contents in Sky Runner: Finding Strength, Happiness, and Balance in Your Life will inspire you to move your body, run uphill and down hill, climb mountains in all climate, get lost in nature, grow your own food, and be philosophical about finding strength, happiness, and balance in life and in running as you admire the captivating photography.

Copyright 2018

I am the author of Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times. You can order the book here from from the publisher, Amazon, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble.

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