Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Are An Ironman Book Review

You Are An Ironman (New York, NY: Viking, 2011) by Jacques Steinberg, New York Times reporter and author of the bestselling “The Gatekeepers,” follows the stories of six people pursuing this life-defining goal: a 2.4-mile swim (the equivalent of about 175 lengths across a typical, 25-yard community pool), followed by a 112-mile bike ride (the length of the trip from New York City to past Philadelphia), followed by a 26.2 mile (marathon) run, all in less than 17 hours.

I’ll say straight off that I didn’t really like this book. It’s really hard to figure out who the intended audience is.
  • Any book that puts “The World’s Toughest Triathlon” seems really misguided. Not that an Ironman is easy, but most devotees of the sport recognize there are many tougher races. I get it, they're trying to sell books, but it is emblematic to me about the problems with this book.
  • This book has a "Chicken Soup for..." vibe to it, looking to inspire through the stories more so than offer good training or nutrition advice. Maybe I’ve just read too many Ironman success stories to be moved by the characters, but this group doesn't seem that inspiring to me.
  • There's a distinct feel of a dilettante in this book, with Steinberg seemingly only having a surface knowledge not just of the Ironman, but triathlon in general.
I’m disappointed to be so down on this book, I read it to the end hoping to find something redeeming about it, but never did. Whatever the case is, I’m not sure I would recommend this book to anyone.


Am I wrong in this?
Did you read the book and love it?

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  1. Thanks for the review Kovas. Thought about picking this one up but will not now. I am not real into those "chicken soup for the soul ..." type of books.

  2. Geez, now I really have to read it!

    Know what you mean though. Found Dara Torres book excellent, and found Michael Phelps book, not so much. (Both reviewed on my blog)

    Sometimes its the presentation, not the story.

    I might still read it though.

  3. I read it and really wanted to like it but wasn't crazy about it. It was a quick read but a difficult one. It jumped around from person to person too much. It was hard to keep the storylines straight.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Blogger Patrick Mahoney said...

    If you are looking for feel good emotional inspiration, I thought it was fine, as long as a well written narrative isn't imperative.

    The problem is that feel good emotional inspiration isn't enough to get anyone to the finish line and the book underplays the work it actually takes to get an Ironman done.

  6. I googled:

    jacques steinberg triathlon results "race results" -book +ironman

    and got nothing on him.

  7. Patrick, It's the biggest contradiction inherent in Ironman - it's supposed to be a life-changing, brutally difficult challenge, yet also appeal to enough non-elites to fill the corporate coffers. The "impossible task" that "anyone can do."

  8. Disappointed to hear this as I had it on my "to read" list. Might move another one up the list first.

  9. I'd wanted to read this too. Guess I won't. Thanks


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