Guest Post – The Extra Mile

Hey there! My name is Jessica and my blog home is UPSandDOWNES.

(with MY little dog too)

When the opportunity to guest blog on Leslie’s blog came up, I had just purchased the book, The Extra Mile.

I was so excited that she allowed me to review the book on her blog and share mypersonal thoughts as well. First, here is a short excerpt from Amazon:

One year after her astonishing victory at the Badwater
Ultramarathon, Pam Reed again made distance running history when
she braved the hottest weather in years—135 degrees—to successfully
defend her title. How does this 100-pound mother and stepmother of
five muster the endurance and courage for the 28-hour climb from the
hottest desert floor on Earth to the shadow of the continental United
States’ tallest point?

In The Extra Mile we watch this ultramarathon champion seek
balance in her life as a wife, mother, athlete, and entrepreneur. With
astonishing candor she tells of her 15-year-long battle with anorexia.
And she helps us to understand her passion for ultrarunning—to
discover how far the human body can be pushed.

My blanket statement about this book is that I loved it and was truly able to
relate to this woman, Pam Reed, while being inspired by her at the same time. So Ithought a good way to “review the book,” other than the general statement above, would be to pick out a few excerpts from the book that I found to be particularly interesting and relatable while well-representing the book as a whole.

So, here it goes…

A huge part of Pam’s story is her battle with anorexia. In one part of the
book she brings up the concept of anorexia athetica (AA) (in the context of she
herself being diagnosed with this condition). She defines eight criteria associated with this diagnosis and goes on the further relate herself to the criterion by either negating or admitting the presence of each in her own situation.

She lists the following:

1. Repeated exercising beyond the requirements for good health
2. Fanatical attention to weight and diet
3. Stealing exercise time from work and relationships
4. Focusing on the challenge, and forgetting that exercise can be fun
5. Defining self-worth in terms on performance
6. Being rarely or never satisfied with athletic achievements
7. Not savoring victory. Pushing on to the next challenge immediately
8. Justifying excessive behavior by defining self as an elite athlete.

I will admit. I just finished training for and running my first half marathon and
like Pam, I can admit to some of the above habits. But I would not define myself as having AA. It is interesting to simply notice your habits from time to time to assure they are under control . Anyway, Pam goes on to make a very interesting point that definitely had me reeling for a while.

(Exerpt from the book-p.26) One of the things that bothers me about these criteria- and in fact about all the therapies I’ve had for anorexia- is the implication that the “normal” person is someone who’s not too excited about, much less totally committed to, anything…When you have a gift, there is often a dark side. That just seems to be the way things work. One of the biggest challenges of my life has been making sure that the dark side doesn’t win.

It was a really thought-provoking statement to me. HOW DO YOU FEEL
ABOUT THIS STATEMENT? As someone who has received formal care for an
eating disorder (ED), I can relay that this idea above was one discussed often in treatment. I understand that anything during formal treatment for EDs that can be seen as “fanatical” such as running must be eliminated, at least in the initial phase. BUT, I also feel that some institutions responsible for ED treatment try to instill this concept of “the normal person not being passionate about anything” in efforts to derail ED behaviors that can be detrimental to recovery. I know that I felt this way several times during my care and feel it can

On the same lines, Pam discusses running as an addiction.

She says,Addiction is defined in a variety of ways and can be both physical and emotional (page 65).

She goes on to define the criterion or symptoms that are indicators of
addiction: guilt, withdrawal symptoms (which she points out that on a biological
level people can actually be “addicted” to physical activity due to the various
endorphins released during such activity), and “the magic question.” Pam says that when asked “If pushing a magic button could forever eliminate your desire for your addictive substance or activity, would you push that button,” deeply addicted people always says yes. Not only does Pam debunk the other criterion, but she certainly would never “push that button.” Neither would I.

I LOVED this book because it gave me a chance to really look inside myself
and “check myself” and my behaviors, while being incredibly inspired and motivated by Pam. Overall, this book was really eye-opening and relatable. I truly feel that anyone could catch a bit of inspiration and motivation from this amazing woman.

What is the last book you read that really inspired you? Have you read The Extra Mile?

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  • Reply nichole December 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Fantastic review. I really enjoyed your thoughts and the experts.
    When you have a gift, there is often a dark side. That just seems to be the way things work. One of the biggest challenges of my life has been making sure that the dark side doesn’t win. – that's poignant and powerful!

    It's like an actor that is on drugs, there is this creative side they can't control.

    I haven't read a book since last summer, but Outsde Magazine inspires me on a daily basis.

  • Reply Patty O December 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    The Extra Mile sounds like a good book for anyone to read because it deals with life's real issues. I'm sure that athletes don't even realize some of their addictive behaviors!

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