After a successful collegiate career running for Rice University, Becky Wade was named a recipient of a Watson Fellowship, which supported her for a year of international travel for “purposeful, independent study.” She planned a trip to include visits in Kenya, the UK, Japan, New Zealand, and other countries, to learn about running cultures across the globe. She wanted to learn how their runners trained and lived – their elites and their “average” runners. I was curious to find out what other countries she might have wanted to visit, if there had been time … here’s her response:
Even though I typically read very quickly, this book gave me reason to slow down because I frequently set it aside to look up information on the locations and events Becky wrote about. In some ways, the book served as a sort of travel guide – she didn’t assume that readers would know everything she was talking about but did give some details to remind readers of backgrounds. It also got me thinking; and last week while on a business trip to Nashville and an unexpected day’s layover in Houston, I did my exploring on foot and by bike. Like Becky, I found small details that let me get a feeling for the city I was visiting. (Nashville is no Tokyo, though.) While I don’t want to give any details away about her journey, there are two running-related events she attended that I really hope catch on here!
The first is ParkRun. A friend that lives in the UK had participated in a few ParkRuns, but from Becky’s book I learned that it’s an international organization, and they’re interested in taking ParkRun all over the world. It’s pretty similar to the Portland Park & Rec’s $5 5k Series, except that it’s FREE for participants. Local organizers raise half the funds and ParkRun covers the other half, with the goal of getting more people moving.
The second was a unique track run of sorts. I hesitate to call it a race, because it’s more like a really fun way to do a track workout. First, you’d need a small track – 200 meters would be great. Then, you need a bell and a bell ringer. Those running will run a number of distances at the workout, anywhere from 200 meters to 1,000 meters – this could be pre-determined (as it was in her example) so that the runners knew they had so many 200s and only one 1,000, for example. But the runners don’t know the order of which distance they’ll run first, second, and so on. They only find out when they start the last lap of that distance and hear the bell. It sounds like a great way to create dramatic competition and an exciting track workout.
Since finishing the book, Becky has kept moving. In 2013, as she was finishing the writing of this book, she won the California International Marathon in 2:30:41 and was named “America’s Best Young Marathoner” by Runner’s World Magazine. Now running for Asics, it’s apparent how what she learned during her year abroad contributed to her success. In her book, Becky focused on the positive aspects of her experiences. There are few times when things just didn’t go her way, but rather than complain about it, she viewed the situation through the eyes of a traveling scholar. I love this attitude. The experience has continued, as well; Becky said that she’s been able to keep in touch with a number of her new friends from around the globe as she’s worked on the book and even been able to visit with a few here and there. So what else has changed since finishing Run the World? Hear for yourself:
I am so glad that she plans to continues to write – I like her descriptive yet unflowery style that gives you a vibrant sketch of what she experienced. It’s easy to be inspired by her energy, dedication to the sport, and open mind in traveling and meeting new people. See what she thinks might be next: