Book Review: Ben Kaplan's Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

The Rogue’s Guide to Running The Marathon

Ben Kaplan wants to help you train for your first marathon, and he wants to make sure you have a lot of fun along the way. On top of an easy-to-follow, four-section weekly training program, his insightful and motivational new book, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now: The Rogue’s Guide to Running The Marathon is stocked with valuable advice from experts around the world and priceless running tips for runners of every level.

Designed with input from six top-tier running experts, the training program was created with every type of runner in mind. “Pick your starting point. The program is designed to be followed week by week, but not everyone’s starting at the same place,” Kaplan explains. Basically, whether you’ve never run a day in your life or you’re ready to tackle your next half marathon, Kaplan can help successfully get you across the finish line of your first marathon.

If right now you’re thinking: "A year-long marathon training program doesn’t sound like the most amusing reading material," don’t be fooled. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now is much more than just a training program. From the first “Note to the Runner” until the final page of the footnotes, every aspect of the book is entirely entertaining and extremely intelligent. Kaplan not only compiles some of the best advice and research about running from the world’s top experts, but he effortlessly relays it all to the reader in a relatable and easy to understand way.

Kaplan goes above and beyond the simple “here’s what to do and when to do it” formula by presenting the program through his own experiences as an everyday runner. Instead, the book follows more of a “here’s what to do, here’s how I felt and what I learned when I did it, and here’s what the experts have to say about it” format.

Not only does Kaplan pull from his own experiences as a runner, but he shares the trials and tribulations of other novice runners, too. One beginner shares, “It’s not like I ever sat down and decided: I’m going to become a runner, gradually things just started to change.”

Kaplan adds, “This is how you get to the marathon. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t have to be a college athlete, a monk, or a vegan. You don’t have to be skinny, live beside a cornfield, or hire a nanny to take care of your kids. You don’t have to get a Reebok tattooed on your ass.”

Feet Don’t Fail Me Now is funny, it’s engaging, and it also includes running song suggestions from celebrities and musicians (some of which are runners themselves) like Paul Simon, Woody Harrelson, The Black Keys, Justin Bieber, Slash, and Michael Bublé. At the end of each chapter Kaplan interviews a new celebrity, revealing their favorite motivational music and providing the reader with a diverse list of pump-up tunes to help keep running spirits high.

Aside from the fact that Kaplan provides readers with top-notch tunes and valuable knowledge for runners of every level, the best part about the book is the emphasis on the notion that every runner is different, and that successful running takes a lot of trial and error.

“Try different paces and body positions and record your results. What feels best? That’s what you should do,” Kaplan explains.

The book includes all types of advice. From tips about shoes, nutrition and training strategies to apparel, pacing, proper form, and injury prevention, Kaplan covers it all. But at the end of the day, his best piece of advice is to do what works for you.

Oh, and when it comes to keeping up your motivation (maybe the hardest of all obstacles to overcome), Kaplan totally comes to the rescue.

“I like that running is my time to be a kid, to go out in the rainstorm, to yell,” he writes. “Do whatever it takes to keep yourself motivated and happy. Once you run for a while, watch how it becomes addictive and spreads. Never mind the escalator you’ll say. I’ll take the stairs.”

Available in stores January 12th

Feet Don't Fail Me Now
Ben Kaplan
Paperback; $19.95
Greystone Books