Book Review: The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly

Having been captivated by his warts and all account of his time in various bands and his struggles with addiction in Beat the Devil, I was pretty interested in checking out Mishka Shubaly’s book about running. This was because of three major factors-

  1. His writing style in Beat the Devil had really impressed me. I liked the honesty and unflinching nature of his writing.
  2. I was keen to see how starting running, and then proceeding to extreme long distance running had helped him as he attempted to move forward into sobriety.
  3. I really want to start running again and was looking for some inspiration for me to drag my fat arse out of bed and start pounding pavement again.

The problem is that for me the book failed to tick all these boxes. I should hasten to add that the third reason isn’t Shubaly’s fault and has more to do with me currently having some kind of chest/throat infection which has left me coughing every few minutes. Once this passes I’ll pick up some cheap trainers and start jogging again.

long run shubaly

In terms of his writing style, Shubaly is still an engaging narrator, telling his life story in a captivating, no frills manner and never shying away from his failures and flaws. It’s a refreshingly honest discussion of addiction and best of all Shubaly never lurches into self pity, nor does he lie about why he drinks, he describes why and how alcohol exerted it’s control over him.

He’s critical of the AA and blunt in his assessment of life as a non-drinker, that putting down the bottles and pills didn’t automatically make his life shiny and new, and that the road to recovery is a tricky one.

The problem I had with this book, as well written as it was, was that aside from a few brief passages Shubaly never really opens up about running. He talks about how he started, almost accidentally, to run after leaving his bike at work, and there are little moments when he discusses how his life has changed as a runner, but sadly it’s lacking in insight in places.

This is more frustrating because we’re already aware that Shubaly has insight to spare and can be honest, but with running it’s handled in a slightly more sedate manner. He tells us the injuries he’s picked up, the races he’s won but apart from acknowledging that in some ways he’s merely adopted another addiction in running, there’s very little added. The final section, a story from a 100 mile race is rather well done, but it shows the skill he has as a writer, making the lack of depth elsewhere more disappointing.

It’s well worth a read, but for my money What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a better book about running.

Verdict: Shubaly is a talented writer, and some of this book is well done and insightful, but in a few areas I was frustrated that there wasn’t more detail or examination. Still, it’s a decent, quick book that’s worth checking out. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


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