Book Review: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet

Last week, I finished a book and needed a new one. I wasn’t in the mood to read anything on my shelf, either at home or at school (which is kind of sad, because I have a LOT of books). I was in the mood for a running book. You know the kind … one that, while you’re reading, you can’t decide whether to keep reading because it’s so riveting or go outside and run because it’s so inspiring.

I already own several books that fit that description, but I wanted something new. So I grabbed my trusty nook, did a quick search, and landed on Kilian Jornet’s Run or Die. I only knew two things about this book: 1. Kilian Jornet is an incredible trail runner, and 2. Reading about incredible runners tends to give that inspiring feeling I was after.

So I bought it, and I read it. And although it was okay, I was disappointed overall.

Let’s start with the good:

  • Quick read — it was only 145 nook pages, which made for speedy reading.
  • Vivid descriptions of some of the amazingly beautiful places Jornet has run and of his thoughts and emotions throughout some runs and races. For a translated book, especially, I was impressed with some of the imagery.
  •  Some nice little thought-nuggets to ponder, like this one (the name of Chapter 8): “We celebrate a peak when we’re back down.”

And these are the things that made it a “meh” book for me:

  • Disjointed. That was my main issue with the book — it’s just a collection of tales of Jornet’s races, runs, and feats, without a unifying element. My next two points are really more sub-points of this one.
  • Shallow. The term “thought-nuggets” was the best descriptor I could use above, because Jornet never really gets into the meat of some of those thoughts and lessons. The book would have been much better with some more depth.
  • Impersonal. That probably sounds weird to say about a memoir-type book, but at the end of it, I didn’t feel like I knew Jornet. He touches on his childhood, his family and friends, and a failed relationship… but merely touches. For me to love a book like this, I need to feel a connection to the author, and I didn’t.

This book is worth a read if you want a short running book that you can read in a couple of days, but there are definitely more inspiring and well-written running books out there (see this post for some of my favorites).

And just for the record, Kilian Jornet is still a badass runner, regardless of his book.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately (running-related or not)?


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Run or Die by Kilian Jornet”

  1. Two of my favorite running books are:
    1. Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss by Dean Karnazes. LOVED THIS!
    2. Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong – It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book but I loved it!

    Currently I am reading “The Book Thief” – so far it is okay. Not really digging it. But I did finish “New York” in January and I loved it. It is quite lengthy (800+ pages) but it was awesome!

  2. I haven’t read any running books, only magazines. I’ll have to read your earlier post with reviews. My girls are in middle school so I like to check-out the YA fiction before they pick them up. I recently finished Code Name Verity. It was a heart breaker, and a bit confusing with the change in narrative, and wasn’t appropriate for them. I will recommend, but with the caveat that it is quite sad.

    1. I read a ton of YA lit so I know what to recommend to my students…I spend about four hours a day in the summer reading. And I call it work. 🙂 I’ve heard Code Name Verity is great but I haven’t read it yet.

  3. I love reading running books! My all time favorites are still once a runner, running with the buffaloes (Colorado!), and what I talk about when I talk about running. I am reading divergent now and am looking forward to starting the fault within our stars!

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