Scott Douglas’ Terse Bloviation

Running Is My Therapy Published!

Tuesday, April 17 was a landmark day for books written by William and Mary religion majors of the 1980s—it was publication day for James Comey and me. As my mother-in-law said, read my book to feel better after reading his.

Here’s the book’s Amazon page.

Write me if you’d like to have me as a podcast guest or otherwise talk about the book’s key topic of using running to manage mental health.

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Slate Article on Prescribing Exercise for Depression

One of the most interesting things I learned while writing Running Is My Therapy: In some countries, official medical guidelines count exercise as a first-line treatment for depression. It’s considered on a par with medication and therapy for initial treatment options. That, of course, is not the case in the United States. Why is the U.S. system behind others on this?

I was able to explore this topic in more depth for this Slate article.

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Words, Words, Words

Some updates on books:

1. In April The Experiment will publish Running is My Therapy. It’s the book I’ve wanted to write for years about the intersection of running and mental health, detailed via reported science, first-person narrative, interviews with experts and other runners’ experiences. (If that mix and the topic sound familiar, perhaps you remember my Runner’s World story on the subject that was published in November.) The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.

If you’re in a position to review the book, are interested in having me on your podcast, etc., write me and I’ll see that you get an advance copy.

2. I currently have the pleasure of spending lots of time with Meb Keflezighi as we work on a book about his marathon career. (Alas, that time is spent on the phone and laptop, not in person, although with the way the Maine winter is shaping up, I might have to show up at his San Diego home.) Meb retired from elite competition after November’s New York City Marathon, his 26th go at the distance. Our book, 26 Marathons, will tell the story of and lessons from each of Meb’s career marathons. I’ve learned a lot so far from our discussions; some of it even has to do with the book! 26 Marathons is scheduled to be published by Rodale in November.

3. Once Meb and I turn in our manuscript, I’ll keep collaborating with Olympic marathoners, as Pete Pfitzinger and I will start working in earnest this spring on the third edition of Advanced Marathoning. It will be published in 2019.

4. In the spring I’ll also start working on a book called What Happens When You Run, to be published by Velo Press. More on that later.

5. Finally, books written by others: I finished 35 books this year. (I don’t count books I read for work.) Continuing a development of middle age I still find interesting, given my previous penchant for non-fiction, 28 were fiction. My reading for pleasure takes place almost entirely after dinner. At that time, I usually want a well-constructed fictional world rather than insights on how the real world works.

That said, one of the three books that most stood out for the year was an essay collection. When I record having finished a book, I give it a one-word review of yes, no or meh, with the review being what I would say if someone with similar taste were to ask if I recommend it. Some get an all-caps YES or NO for emphasis. My three all-caps YES books for the year, starting with that essay collection, were:

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Once More Unto the Breach with Meb Keflezighi

I’m excited to announce that Meb Keflezighi and I will be working together on another book.

The new one will be called 26 Marathons, 26 Lessons. It will tell the story of each of Meb’s 26 career marathons (#26 will be New York City in November) and offer a use-at-home lesson from each. The book will come out in the fall of 2018 and, like Meb for Mortals, will be published by Rodale.

Unrelated book note: Four of the books I’ve read this year merit my all-caps “yes” review, meaning that while reading them I’m simultaneously immensely enjoying them, prematurely ruing having finished them, and eagerly imagining who first to recommend them to. The four are:

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Books Three-Parter

1. This book is now out. Of the eight books with my name on the cover, it’s the first that’s not about running. So that counts for something.

2. This month I’ll start working on a book about running and depression. (Write what you know, etc.) It’s slated for publication by The Experiment next year. This makes me happy, but hopefully not so much I lose touch with half of the book’s subject matter.

3. As for books by others, of the 46 I finished in 2016, there are four that I have been or will be urging on people with similar tastes:

The Invoice, by Jonas Karlsson.
Lazarus is Dead, by Richard Beard.
The Apostle Killer, by Richard Beard. (Called Acts of the Assassins when released.)
The Trespasser, by Tana French.

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Books Completed First Trimester of 2016

Here are the books I read to the end of in the first four months of the year. After each I’ve given a one-word recommendation to a hypothetical friend with somewhat similar taste. ALL CAPS means emphatically so. There are no “no” votes yet this year because I’m getting better about abandoning ship when warranted.

January (I was working less than usual)
The Art of Crash Landing—Melssia DeCarlo | Meh
The Mystic Poets: Hopkins—Gerard Manley Hopkins
 | YES
Slade House—David Mitchell | Yes
The Handmaid’s Tale—Margaret Atwood | Yes
Strange Fits of Passion—Anita Shreve | Meh
Ethan Frome—Edith Wharton | YES (I think this was my fourth reading)
The Weight of Water—Anita Shreve | Yes

February
A Short History of Women—Kate Walbert | Meh
Winter’s Bone—Daniel Woodrell | Yes
Gold Fame Citrus—Claire Vaye Watkins | Yes

March
The Obituary Writer—Ann Hood | Meh
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton—Edith Wharton | Yes
Summer—Edith Wharton | Meh
The Last Policeman—Ben Winters | Meh

April
Countdown City—Ben Winters | Meh
World of Trouble—Ben Winters | Meh
Frankenstein—Mary Shelley | Meh
Cheap—Ellen Ruppel Shell | Yes (And look, nonfiction!)

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Books Completed in 2015

Below is a list of books I finished reading this year. After each I’ve given a one-word read-it-or-not guidance to a hypothetical friend with similar tastes or interests. ALL CAPS means emphatically so. (The list doesn’t include books I started but abandoned; I can’t recall all of them, but they would obviously merit a “no.”)

When I maintained a similar list in 2012, it was split 50-50 between fiction and nonfiction. This year it’s more like 3-1 in favor of fiction. As my work has become increasingly just-the-facts straightforward, when I read at night for pleasure I’m much more interested in being transported to a well-crafted world than in being told how to think about topic X.

Each section is in chronological order of completion.

FICTION
The Natural—Bernard Malmoud | Yes
State of Wonder—Ann Patchett | No
Gould’s Book of Fish—Richard Flanagan | NO
Station Eleven—Emily St. John Mandel | No
The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac—Sharma Shields | YES
The Fahrenheit Twins—Michael Faber | Yes
The Crimson Petal and the White—Michael Faber | YES
Dog Gone It—Spencer Quinn | NO
The Box Garden—Carol Shields | Yes
The Keep—Jennifer Egan | No
The Stone Diaries—Carol Shields | YES
The Happiest People in the World—Brock Clarke | NO
Blue Angel—Francine Prose | YES
Unless—Carol Shields | Yes
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932—Francine Prose | No
Goldengrove—Francine Prose | No
Dressing Up for the Carnival—Carol Shields | Yes
36 Arguments for the Existence of God—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein | NO
Fludd—Hilary Mantel | Yes
Fates and Furies—Lauren Groff | NO
Larry’s Party—Carol Shields | Yes
A Place of Greater Safety—Hilary Mantel | Yes
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh—Michael Chabon | Yes

NONFICTION
Meb for Mortals—Meb Keflezighi with Scott Douglas | Yes (buy it, I don’t care if you read it)
Buddhism Without Beliefs—Stephen Batcheler | Yes
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets—Simon Singh | No
On Writing—Stephen King | Yes
The Lobster Gangs of Maine—James Acheson | No
Teller of Tales (Arthur Conan Doyle bio)—Daniel Stashower | No
Poverty Creek Journal—Thomas Gardner | YES
Listening to Jazz—Jerry Coker | Yes

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Meb for Mortals Out April 7

For a variety of reasons, this is the book I’ve written or co-written that I’m most proud of.

I am fortunate to have now co-written books with three U.S. Olympic marathoners. The most satisfying aspect of each project has been liking and respecting my co-authors even more after working together.

Buy it here or here.

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Bernd Heinrich Profile

Here’s my story about Why We Run author Bernd Heinrich, and the intersection of his approach to science and his running.

Here’s the link!

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Peroneal Surgery #6: Keep Hope Alive

It’s now been a bit more than 10 months since I had surgery to repair my two right peroneal tendons. For those contemplating or recovering from the procedure, I hope that this update will give you some hope.

Overall, things are going well with the foot. I’m back to daily running, and starting to do what almost feels like training. The foot is still very much in my thoughts daily, but I’m largely able to live how I want, with a few exceptions noted below.

During the fall I stayed conservative in returning to running. I didn’t have a seven-day stretch of running every day until October, six months after the surgery. By mid October I had built up my long run so that I was able to complete the Runner’s World Half Marathon in Bethlehem, PA. This was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had at a race, even though I wasn’t racing and I ran almost half an hour slower than my half marathon PR.

I’d done a 12-miler, really gently paced, a few weeks before the half. The next two weekends, when I was trying to keep upping my long run, my mechanics got sloppy early on, and I cut the runs short, to something like 10 miles. (Then, and even now, my thinking was/is, my foot can’t afford to bear the brunt of my running poorly. As I was still getting used to running regularly, this happened more often then than now.) So in the half, I just wanted to run comfortably and have it be a positive experience. I started with the 1:45 pace group (8:00/mile), moved up as I felt like doing so, and finished in 1:37:57. It was the most I’d felt like a runner in a year.

My point in droning on about an unremarkable run that’s now four months ago is that it was useful to have that modest-but-slightly-demanding goal (”feel good comfortably finishing the RW Half on October 20″) as I got back into running. Although I wasn’t training, just getting used to running, it helped to have a first benchmark to work toward.

Things kept going well after the half. I was on vacation the second week of the month and felt I could push things a little more than during normal life. I wound up with 65 miles that week, which is still the highest week I’ve had since surgery. At the end of the month, I ran the 4-mile Thanksgiving race in Portland with the goal of breaking 28:00 without too much duress. I wound up running 26:43, and it felt good to do something sustained harder than I’d been running, and for my foot to not bother me doing so.

December was a setback. I discovered after it was too late that snow and ice and the uneven footing they cause are a challenge. I had too many days of taking too many bad steps, and around Christmas time my foot felt as bad as it had a year earlier, pre-surgery. I was really despondent for a few days. I missed a bunch of days of running. But it turned out to be a flare-up, not serious re-injury. I was able to resume progressing in January, and averaged 51 miles a week for the month, a little more than I had in November. After December’s setback, I felt like I was starting from scratch in terms of building my long run. As of last Sunday, the longest I’ve been is 17. My plan is to keep building on that leading up to the Boston Marathon on April 21, where my goal is what it was for the half in October–to be fit enough to enjoy myself running comfortably for the entire distance.

The only other race I’ve been at was a local 10-miler at the beginning of February. I kept with a modest goal–to break 70:00 with as little duress as possible–and was happy to run 69:27 without having to work all that hard. Sustaining faster running is still more of a challenge mechanically than cardiovascularly. I’ve started to do one hard workout a week, such as this morning’s session of 5 x 5:00, but probably won’t do any real racing until after Boston, because I don’t want to introduce another variable that could interfere with that goal.

Again, I hope that someone reading this can see that you should be able to gradually work your way back to close to pre-surgery normality. I still ice my foot after every run. I still do my PT exercises almost daily. And I still limit where I run and walk to minimize the chance of bad steps. (For example, as I write this we’re getting tons of snow, so I assume I’ll be on the treadmill tomorrow). But running feels so much better than it did at this time last year, we’re at mid-February and I’ve missed only one day of running so far this year, and I can reliably plan on running with friends, which is great.

Sorry this is long, and sorry that I’m feeling too lazy to proof it before publishing.

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