Book Review: The Accidental Athlete by John “The Penguin” Bingham


Book Review: The Accidental Athlete by John “The Penguin” Bingham

What a delightful book full of humor. I can appreciate people that can laugh at themselves and find the positive in every experience. The author John “The Penguin” Bingham does a great job sharing his experiences in the book An Accidental Athlete. It was great to journey with him from an athlete wanna-be child perspective to developing the athlete in himself as an “adult-onset athlete.” I think everyone can identify with John’s experiences in some way or another as we all feel inadequate at times, fail at something or want to believe we are more capable that we really are. He states, “If you accept the labels that others put on you, if you accept that because your pace is slow or your body is ponderous or you are not athletically gifted, you can’t enjoy the grandeur of being an athlete, then you are wrong. You can. I know. I have.”

John takes himself from overweight, uninspired, middle-aged smoker to a marathon as he discovers the joy of being active and teaches us that you don’t have to be good at it to do it and be successful. He also shares this kernel of wisdom; “I also discovered that, for many of us, the seeds of our later success can be found in our early failures.” If we fail, we can try again, even if it’s years later. We have the power to get ourselves off the couch and discover the athlete in ourselves.

He answers the question we often ask ourselves, “Can you enjoy something you are not good at?” The answer is undoubtedly YES. You can also find success in little things and just because you don’t have a chance to win – you can still be competitive. Be competitive with yourself. Allow others to help push you to reach new goals. I often teach participants of my running classes that it’s important to remember that you should just compare yourself to you. Do the best YOU can do, and this way your experiences will be more positive. Isn’t this why we run anyway? To see what we are made of? To push ourselves to reach a goal? For self-discovery coming face-to-face with our own beliefs about what we are capable of? To place mind over matter?

I think at times we all question why we run. I love John’s explanation of what he likes about running and why he runs. He states, “What I knew for sure was that even though I was awful at it, I liked running. It was pure. It was honest. It was simple. He further explains, “I am literally running for my life. I am running because, for me, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits of running far outweigh the struggles, setbacks, and challenges. I am running because, for me, not running is unthinkable. I am running because I am a runner. It’s that simple.

I would have to agree with him. I run because I am a runner! Thanks for a great read John and for reminding us to enjoy the journey that running brings us.

This is another great book to add to your athlete library.

Get your own copy of the book.

Velo Press puts out a lot of other great books for athletes.  Click here to take a look.

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Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete and certified running and triathlon coach recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa in 2018. Lora was born and raised in Colorado and was to run for the University and Utah & Utah State University where she obtained a degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Coach Lora has a true passion for health promotion and loves to share her experiences. Learn more: About Coach Lora Erickson