It Could Be Worse, by Beth Probst

Subtitled: A Girlfriend’s Guide for Runners Who Detest Running

The title and subtitle basically describe the book. Beth Probst is a larger-bodied person who took up running as a kind of personal challenge, and uses every kind of running incentive possible to keep herself motivated. She’s funny and relatable, particularly to other larger-bodied runners with slower times and back-of-the-pack placements (me!!). This is not a book that is meant to tell you all the great things about running and convince you to start. It won’t gloss over the awful parts. Instead, it explores Probst’s experiences over the last decade, with many half-marathon runs (and the training plans that may or may not have led up to them). Interspersed throughout are notes from other runners who all run for one reason or another, even though running is hard and can suck and many of us don’t know why we do it or keep doing it. In short, it’s a book that inspires, and lets all us not-so-elite runners know that it’s okay to not be elite.

Side story, only tangentially related to this book: Near the end of the book, Probst talks about her first 10K race. When she gave her time, my immediate thought was, “Oh! That’s really similar to my first (aka only) 10K time.” I didn’t remember my exact time, so I went to my Running page here on the blog. The difference between our times is under five minutes, which I got a bit of a kick out of. But I was also curious about what pace my 10K had been. I remembered that it was 13-something per mile, but not the specifics. Because I didn’t want to do the math, I clicked on the link about the 10K, thinking maybe I’d continue to be lazy and just get the info there. The link goes back to a post from 2019, which itself is a throwback post that was originally written in 2013 (on a prior version of the blog). It’s all about why I decided to run my first/only 10K when I didn’t know if I would be able to walk the entire half-marathon that my friends and I had trained for. As I skimmed through the post, looking for my 10K pace, I came across the following lines:

At the time we started training, I had lost 70 lbs and just crossed the line from obese to overweight. I had never walked longer than about 5.5 miles, but I thought I would be up to the training for an eventual 13.1 miles. [emphasis added]

Oh, readers, can I tell you how startled I was to read these words, originally written in January 2013, about the beginning of training in January 2012? Nearly a decade ago, while I had participated in 5Ks (though hadn’t yet run a full 5K nonstop yet), I’d never walked longer than 5.5 miles. (Why do I know that number? Because I used to walk from my house to the library, then around the library park, then back home, for a total of 5.2 miles, and I knew I’d never gone much longer than that, so I rounded up.) And why is this important? Because last Saturday, weighing 70+ lbs more than when I started that training, I hiked 5.75 miles around Lost Maples. Because over the last however many years, I’ve hiked and walked multiple 5+ mile distances. Because I’ve been so frustrated with my body for how much it hurts after a long hike, thinking that this used to be easy, that I used to do this all the time, when in reality, I only began regularly walking 5+ miles during that HM training, sometime in spring 2012. I am doing more now, morbidly obese, than I did at much smaller weights for most of my life. And that’s an achievement that I need to remember.

So back to the review. It Could Be Worse is a short book, coming in just under 100 pages. It’s self-published, so there are a few problems that you notice with these kinds of books (off formatting, grammatical errors, etc). Setting that aside, the book has a lot of good info in it. Tips about shoes, motivation, gear, running groups, training plans, etc. Probst won’t try to sell running as easy, or as a weight loss plan, or as the perfect way to transform your life into Hollywood glamour. Instead, it’s down to earth and very real, conversational and, as I said above, relatable. It’s not the book I would start with if you’re trying to get into running – I personally recommend Run to the Finish by Amanda Brooks for that – but a good one to read if running isn’t the center of your life. It’s a good one to read if each run is a struggle, each day requires a fresh dose of determination, and you really don’t know why you keep running, though you do. AKA readers (and runners) like me.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2021, Adult, Prose and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It Could Be Worse, by Beth Probst

  1. Beth Probst says:

    Thank you so much for the review of my book! I love your thoughts about my writing. And 100% agree on the problems that come with self-publishing. This was an incredibly scary book to put out and so I just wanted to get my words out there. I’m really glad you read them and they resonated with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda says:

      I’m glad you did! I found them very inspiring. While I can’t run right now – recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, trying to find a combination of treatments to get the inflammation under control – I know I’ll get back out there one day, and I’ll grumble at every step. It’s so great to see other larger-bodied folks and “I hate running but I keep doing it” folks represented out there!!


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