Title: Run Walk Crawl: Getting Fit in my Forties
Author: Tim Lebbon
Release date: March 10, 2021
Source: Digital ARC from the author
“Slowly, I went from hoping I could to thinking I could,” – Tim Lebbon.
I hope you’ll bear with me for this review. It’s going to be a bit introspective.
Many of you know me from my reviews. Many from my writing. And many know me from my professional career as well as my athletic endeavors. It was interesting to read this, knowing Tim has very similar parallels. There will be a large percentage of you who know him as a writer of amazing dark fiction. But also a number will know him from his passion over the last decade. And even then, some of you will know of him through is Netflix movie ‘The Silence.’
I remember when Tim threw the concept of this book out to the world on Twitter. An almost ‘if I write this, will people read it’ tweet. I was emphatic there was an audience for this, because it ticks a number of boxes that people look for in non-fiction, sports/health books.
Within the pages of this fantastic book, Tim takes us on a journey from where he was on the precipice of turning 40 years old and a fateful Holiday season that transformed his life. Finding it difficult to walk up a hill with some friends and realizing he was not at the level of fitness he was happy with, he had a conversation with a long time friend who himself had worked on his own fitness. When he mentioned to Tim that they were going to attempt a grueling event where you scale three different peaks in 24 hours, Tim decided to pursue that and fell head over heels in love with what can be described as “duration challenges.”
It was interesting for me to read this book. Here I am at 39, roughly four years post-retirement from a goal I had set of trying to make the 2018 Winter Olympics. Where Tim states he was active growing up and even competed in canoeing for a few years, he’d never been a gym goer. Joining and stopping time and again as he found it just wasn’t for him. Myself, I was the opposite. Growing up, I played Golf and Soccer and when I turned 17, began to hit the weights, falling in love with Body Building and Power Lifting. That transformed into a love of the throwing sports and at 24, I returned to Track and began competing in Shot Put. A series of injuries slowed my progress and then an opportunity came up. Bobsled. Much like with Tim going from triathlon training to full on Ironman level events, I devoted myself. In my 29th year, I set a goal of transitioning into a sliding sport. I trained seven days a week, often twice a day. I completed adjusted my diet (which I will say was 100% the hard work of my wife) and over the course of a year, I went from a 375lb shot putter, into a 245lb slider. (Hey, I said you’d get some introspection here!)
So, I’m going to hop into my normal review format from here and return the focus onto Tim’s book (with still some nuggets of my journey!)
What I liked: ‘Run Walk Crawl: Getting Fit in my Forties’ isn’t your normal ‘training’ non-fiction book. No, what Tim’s done here is to write an incredibly heart-felt, emotional book that is incredibly motivating. The book pops back and forth between what he loves about doing Tri’s/Ironman’s and Race Reports. Through this set up, we get to see one of the most talented writers out there go into great depth and detail about the hills around his house that he trains on, the delicious cakes that he partakes in and how the chase of the ‘runners high’ can motivate someone to reach for a goal and achieve it. Much like the sliding sports, Tri’s and Ironman’s are unique, in that these are individual sports done within a community setting. Where everybody wants to see you succeed and people come from all around to watch on race day and cheer you on.
The Race Reports are fantastic insights into Tim’s mindset and experiences from those days. Each one was originally written back at the time of the race and updated for the book. I loved that we get a great snap shot of different race courses and set ups, from open water swims to encounters with vehicles and animals, Tim doesn’t sugar coat anything and the book is elevated because of this.
I found time and time again, Tim peppers this book with golden moments of pure motivation.
“That’s part of the reason for writing this book – talking about what I’ve achieved because it’s fun to look back, and also in the hope that it might inspire other people to take on their own challenge, and perhaps even change their own lives.”
Tim doesn’t preach to the reader in here about health, he doesn’t try to make you believe in a specific fad diet or a weight training regimen and for that, this book sets itself from many others in the pack. This isn’t a self-help or guided training book. You’ll not find running programs, swimming splits or riding intervals. Instead, Tim pleads with the reader to find something they love and to dive in and do it with passion. Throughout my many, many years in athletics/sports, I can absolutely say that this philosophy or approach will work every time. I hate running. But, for a year I would go to the track and do 30m, 45m and 100m sprints as well as bleacher sprints. Why? Because I had a goal, I had a passion and honestly, I loved what I was attempting to do. In my case, I also absolutely loved going to the gym and clanging weights.
The last thing I’ll mention here that I loved, is that Tim fills this book to the brim with humor and does it absolutely create a truly amazing read. Many books similar to this want to jam it down your throat that only the elite will finish a race and that training is tough and the weak will fail, blah blah blah. I didn’t keep track, but I’m fairly confident in saying that at least once in each chapter, Tim mentions that no matter how tiring or difficult training or a race had become, he was doing it for fun. In that regards, Tim and I share that philosophy. It was actually something I took heat from a number of coaches over the years. Me keeping things light, cracking jokes and supporting other athletes. In fact, one of the few times I ever lost my cool was with a bobsled pilot from another country who told me to shut up and focus. A few of my sliding friends will remember that confrontation in the Ice House and chuckle over him turning tail and leaving when I got serious and raised my voice.
This book, as I said, will be an introspective journey and will be an incredible motivator no matter where you are in your own personal life and health, but one thing is for certain – no matter what you are doing – make sure you have fun and it makes you smile. Tim makes sure to tell the reader this frequently, but also sets the example with the humor within.
What I didn’t like: You know, sometimes I hate this section. I set this section up as a way to let readers know why they may not like this book and when I love a book and think it’s hit every target, I struggle. So, here’s what I think some readers may not enjoy – if they are specifically looking for training programs – there are none. If you’re looking for tough love and/or declarations of “only the strong survive!” – big miss.
Personally, and this may be different in the paperback than the digital book I had for review – I wish there were more photos. Especially from the Race Reports. Three big reasons may have prevented this – 1) formatting. That can be really tough. 2) photo credits and rights – the Race Reports are from sanctioned events, so it is very possible that the photos Tim has were taken from race day photogs and credits and rights may be tough or expensive to acquire 3) publication costs – I myself have released a book that has illustrations and paintings in it. I wanted to keep them in color. This greatly increased the cost of printing the books, so that may have been a factor.
Why you should buy this: Tim Lebbon has excelled with what he’s delivered here. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim for my professions publication a few years back, and even then the passion he expressed about training and doing these events was palpable. To read an entire book of the last decade and a bit of his life was phenomenal. This book will not be for everybody and that’s fair. But, like me, if you’re wanting some motivation to get into the best health of your life, Tim leads by example. I turn 40 in July. I have suffered so many significant injuries from my attempts to achieve my goal that I am limited with what I can do and I’ve struggled mentally to kick myself in the butt and start moving again. I personally wouldn’t change it for the world and after reading this – Tim’s already achieved what he set out to do – motivate a reader to rekindle their passion for exercise and get moving again.
A top-notch, non-fiction read that I really can’t recommend enough. I’ll be ordering this in paperback on release day!