Could you imagine taking a year and running some of the most interesting, yet challenging races around? That’s what author, Susan Lacke did and documented it in her new book, Running Outside the Comfort Zone – an explorer’s guide to the edges of running, published by VeloPress.

Running Outside the Comfort Zone takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of Lacke and brings us to the Grand Canyon for the Rim to Rim Race. Here, Susan and her friend race through the canyon. We also follow Susan on the Pony Express Trail 50, Bay to Empire State Building Run-up and the Cooper Hill Cheese Roll in England.

Funny races

The funniest races that she participated in were the Midwest Wife Carrying Championship in South Dakota, where she talked her husband, Neil, into carrying her on his back as he crossed the finish line.

Another hysterical part of the book is when she signed up for the Caliente Bare Dare 5K in Florida. I can’t even describe it, so you’ll need to read it in the book.

Bay to Breakers

Interestingly, the weekend I was reading the book, I was in Berkeley and that same weekend was the Bay to Breakers race. The reporter on TV was talking about the wild costumes and the tortilla throwing. It was raining, and sticky muddy tortillas looked as if they were embedded on the sidewalks. So, when I was reading Outside the Comfort Zone by Susan Lacke, I could relate.

Stand alone vignettes

Each chapter in the book could be a stand-alone blog article or vignette for a publication. This was the only complaint I had. I felt like they weren’t connected and were more like articles than chapters in a book. It took me longer to read this book than most in this genre.

The book kept my interest. It was exciting to read about the different races Susan experienced. I was also interested to learn about Susan’s hearing obstacles. Lacke tied this book to her first book, Life is Too Short To Go So F*cking Slow. I reviewed Life is Too Short a while back, and it was nice that she tied that book with her current book.

While reading, Susan wrote about being a “real runner.” I think at most points, we all ask ourselves the same question, “am I really a runner?”

Some helpful tips

At the end of the book, she includes a list of alphabet letters with a description of what she learned along the way. I particularly liked “V” for Voices – Lacke writes, “Now and then, self-doubt will creep in: I’ll never be fast/go far/finish first. The voices in your head are liars. You’re doing great. Keep going.”

The other letter I loved was “Y” for You – she writes, “running is about you and what you want to accomplish- not your friend who wants you to run an ultramarathon, not your spouse who thinks you should never wear different shoes, not the internet forums that argue over the best cross-training, not some asshole running book author…. Choose the goals and methods that work for you… “

I enjoyed reading this book. It was light, fun and kept my interest. Susan Lacke is an incredibly talented writer who has overcome obstacles and yet, she is an inspiration. Definite must read…