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Non-fiction book of the month: Don't Stop me Now - Vassos Alexander

(18 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jan-17 13:33:10

Whether you're training for a marathon this year or simply thinking about taking up jogging, this book is a highly entertaining celebration of the joys of running. Journalist Vassos Alexander shares his own journey which started out as a jog to the end of the road to his greatest achievement to date; completing an ultra marathon and triathlon in the same weekend.

Apply now for one of 50 free copies. If you're a lucky recipient, do come back to this thread and let us know what you think.

We're inviting all runners (and aspiring runners) to post their questions to Vassos in a Q&A. Post up your Qs before 13 February and we'll upload Vassos' answers before the end of the month.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 16-Jan-17 16:44:34

This giveaway has closed and we'll notify all those who have been allocated books by the end of the day.

If you're training for the marathon or another big event this year, remember that author Vassos Alexandra will be on-hand to answer your questions. Make sure you post them up before 13 February on this thread.

If you're still keen to read Don't Stop Me Now, buy the paperback (£6.29) or e-book (£5.98).

Persistentdonor Wed 25-Jan-17 09:47:32

As you read this review please keep in mind that I’m not a runner. Also I don’t much enjoy non-fiction, and this book was sent to me in error. ( I requested “Frazzled” by Ruby Wax. ) However, it being only a pocket-sized 220 pages I agreed to read and review it.

Well, I have completed more than half of this marathon, and believe me I am ready to give up and drop out!

Firstly the format annoys me. I was several chapters in before I worked out; the headings are a play list, the bold print reminisces over a particularly gruelling “Iron Man” event: Mile by tedious Mile. And the last part is notes from a total of 35 other runners. Perhaps it is designed for each chapter to be read in 3 bite sized pieces, not first page to last like a novel?

The middle part of each chapter is Vassos writing about various aspects of his love/hate affair with running, which holds the most interest for me, and I find them fairly well written.

“Don’t stop me now” is clearly aimed at a niche market, and without a famous name on the cover I have my doubts if many people would pick it off a shelf, but I can imagine that dedicated runners will enjoy, and identify with it.

19sharon Wed 25-Jan-17 14:46:24

I listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show most mornings and always enjoy the banter between Chris Evans, Lynne Bowles and the author of this book Vassos Alexander.
Mr Alexander has set his book over 26.2 chapters (the number of miles in a standard marathon) and gives us a mile by mile account of his emotions and provides us with an insight as to what made him start out as a runner, and then concludes each chapter with a piece written by someone who is recognised as being associated with the world of running.
Picking up any book on 'sport' is not high on my priority list, but this book is funny and very entertaining as well as providing fascinating facts about the sport. Ideal for any runners out there. Less ideal for others.

CancellyMcChequeface Mon 30-Jan-17 14:04:20

I read this book in one sitting. It was a nice, light read and I liked the format. There was, to my mind, a good balance between Vassos sharing his own experiences, and the little sections by various other runners. Lots of them were insightful, or at the very least quite interesting! There were moments of humour, moments of dramatic tension (that triathlon!) - it was an enjoyable read.

I'm not a sporty person. I hated all sports as a child, including running, and I'll admit to feeling a bit sorry for Vassos' daughter who doesn't seem to enjoy it as much but joins in with it as a family activity anyway (although I recognise that this can't be judged properly from small anecdotes in a book!) However, I'm trying to increase my fitness level this year, and on that level, the book was quite inspirational. I have a physical disability that completely rules out any sort of competitive speed or distance, but this month I've been out there doing a few miles a few times a week at my own jog/walk interval pace. I've also signed up for a Race for Life 10k, which will be a personal challenge for me while being non-competitive!

I was slightly bothered by some of the emphasis on expensive running kit, specialist gait analysis, etc. This is more of a personal irritation than a genuine criticism, though, because obviously Vassos is relating his own story and that's part of it.

Overall, it's an entertaining book! I learnt quite a bit about running and runners from it. I wouldn't recommend it to someone with absolutely no interest in the subject, but I'd also say that you don't have to be a runner to enjoy it. Mild curiosity is enough!

Elliepurpleflower Mon 06-Feb-17 16:48:57

I was sent this by mistake but as an occational runner I thought this might be interesting to read, so I gave it a go.

Firstly, I liked the style he writes in, it's very relaxed and funny, almost like you are in the room with him and he's talking about running.
I didn't enjoy the ironman sections so much but I enjoyed reading the middle section the most about Vassos' experiences. I find the random runners experiences a bit hit and miss on whether I enjoyed it.

I think dedicated runners would enjoy this book.
I went for my first run since I picked up the book and I ran ( not far still) but the furthest since I gave birth over 6 months ago. It certainly has helped my motivation to keep going!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 07-Feb-17 13:50:25

Thanks to those who have posted up their reviews so far and we look forward to hearing from those who received their books a bit later - apologies again blush. If you have a question for Vassos please post up before 20th Feb and we'll get the Qs over to him. Many thanks

Blatherskite Fri 10-Feb-17 16:36:30

Not part of the official review but I have read the book. I'm also an RD (Run Director) at both my local parkrun and junior parkrun events and wanted to say ... Vassos, I enjoyed the book. I'm looking for my mojo at the moment and reading it did inspire some of the need to run again so thank you BUT you do mention in one part of the book that you run with both of your children at parkrun and let one run off to the finish while you stay with the slower one. I believe both were under 11 at this point. Please don't. The insurance we have a parkrun requires that all under 11s are WITHIN ARMS REACH of an adult at all times at the 5k event. By letting your son run off you are breaching the rules of this insurance which could invalidate it and put your local event at risk of having to close! I find it maddening and irresponsible that you would broadcast something so daft in a book which will be (hopefully) read by many, many runners old and new.

Other than that, great book wink

angep1969 Sat 11-Feb-17 12:37:17

I requested this book as I just hate running but secretly wish I could do it! I hoped this book might give me some inspiration or tips. I found it an interesting mix of science, personal experience and anecdote but I'm not sure it convinced me that running will ever be my thing. It was interesting to me how many of those quoted talked about running under cover of darkness so they wouldn't be embarrassed so maybe I just need to get over myself and give it a go! I would like to ask Vassos if he regrets doing that Ironman challenge (since it seems to have left him permanently injured) and, as a beginner, was there anything he would have done differently? Also, as a Hampshire resident who lives on the edge of The South Downs, what part of the South Downs Way would he recommend for a beginner to tentatively attempt a slow jog along?

Elliepurpleflower Mon 13-Feb-17 11:08:23

Also I'm a bit curious.... has your neighbour read the book and realised that you were only just starting the run when you spoke to them outside their house? That part really made me giggle smile

SnapCackleFlop Wed 15-Feb-17 13:39:31

I really liked this book, I thought it was written warmly and was inspiring (for a non-running runner with aspirations to change!).

I found the playlist headings a bit confusing at first (perhaps more a reflection on me).

I'd like to ask Vassos what advice he would give to a beginner on how to keep at it until it gets good. I love the idea of running but it feels like an insurmountable mountain from where I'm standing at the moment smile

Love Vassos' dog too! My border collie would love someone to take up running with him.

salmatt Sat 18-Feb-17 18:44:45

I got sent this by accident but I was intrigued enough by the blurb on the back to dip into it. I have been trying to do some running recently and the author's enthusiasm is definitely encouraging. However, I think this is a book mainly for running enthusiasts - not the general reader. I did like the sections on other runners such as Paula Radcliff and flipped through reading most of those. One small irritation is that there isn't a contents page or an index which makes it difficult to find your way around. I will pass it on to a friend who regularly does marathons and I'm sure he'll enjoy it more.

Celama Sat 18-Feb-17 22:36:52

I found this great for reading on the Kindle as each chapter is divided into different segments and it offered so many different options of how to read the book - chapter by chapter, Iron man, guest contributions or just dip in and out at will. The musical suggestions were a nice touch and I'd like to know if Vassos has actually listened to it into entirety during one run?

It's not the sort of book that I would normally read but once I got into it, I did enjoy it. As this is something that I struggle with myself, my question for Vassos is where does he feel that you draw the line in regards to a child who doesn't seem to share the love of a sport as much as you; you know it is good for them so how long do you keep "encouraging" them or do you risk alienating them from that sport and possibly your relationship?

BingBongBingBong Mon 20-Feb-17 20:35:03

I enjoyed this book even though I'm not actually 'into' running! I like the writing style and I would definitely recommend this to running enthusiasts. There isn't anything negative I can say, it was a fun and interesting read even to a non-runner.

Samlet Mon 27-Feb-17 15:40:37

Another one here who got the book by accident (although it would have been my second choice of the four on offer). I intended to have a quick look before passing it on to someone I consider a 'proper' runner, since I have heard how much of an endurance runner Vassos is. To my surprise I really enjoyed the book, I thought it was a clever format, particularly including the stages in the disastrous Iron Man at the top of each chapter which reassured me that Vassos isn't quite superman! It was a light and encouraging read, my only slight niggle is that the majority of the interviewees, although obviously inspiring as successful runners were those who had discovered at primary school that they were great runners. For those of us who started running at 51 and have no intentions of a marathon being happy with my current 5k, I would have liked a few more of the inspirational interviews to be with those who took up running a bit later.

P1nkP0ppy Mon 27-Feb-17 15:45:48

I too received the book in error and I have to admit to really enjoying it (as did my DD who read it after me). I'm as far removed from being a runner as it's possible to be but I loved the storyline.
The book's now been handed onto DS who's a marathon/triathlon competitor, I look forward to hearing what he thinks about it.

Blatherskite Thu 09-Mar-17 20:38:07

Did we ever get the answers to our questions MNHQ?

Joanne2010 Wed 15-Mar-17 14:19:04

Agree fully with persistent donor. I also didn't request this book but thought I would give it a chance. I am not wholly averse to the idea of taking up running but this was just too full on and went straight from, 'I couldn't run round the block' to triathlons and endurance marathons in the desert. His wife and kids must be very understanding as it seems like this has become his whole life.
And I too found the format too confusing. It seemed to bob about all over the place.

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