Living to Answer the ‘What if’ Questions and ‘Chasing Ghosts’ Book Review

In talking about visualization in my last post, I also touched on goals. It’s important to have them, setting them can be tricky though. You don’t want to aim too low because where’s the satisfaction in that, but it can be scary to put yourself out there and voice a goal if you’re afraid it might sound insanely out of your reach.

girl on track

Visualize what you want to achieve.

Fear. Being afraid that others will think you’re diluting yourself and you’re goal is ridiculous. You yourself probably have a voice in the back of your brain laughing and telling you these same things, you sure as heck don’t need others to tell it to your face! Also, there is the fear that in the end you may fall short…it happens.

Fear holds us back, it’s a defense mechanism, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. I’ve set goals, I’ve achieved some but I’ve failed at hitting some plenty of times too. It’s the truth, not all goals will materialize for you but at the same time I’ve learned from the journeys. The people I’ve met, the times I had…the trying was worth it. Failure sounds like such a bad word, but there can still be successes in the failures.

The point is it’s still worth setting high goals; regardless of the outcome you’ll surely enrich your life in one way and there IS the opportunity of hitting them…then it’s time to set the bar higher. πŸ˜‰

In speaking of goals and following your dreams, I was given a copy of ‘Chasing Ghosts’ by the author Phil Reilly. Here is a review of the book; I’ll keep out any spoilers, after-all plenty of you may want to read it yourself. πŸ˜‰

The book, of course it revolves around running, chronicles the journey of Joey McNeal as he thrusts himself back into hard training in an attempt to make it to the Olympics. He’s nearing 30, past the ‘prime’ age for his event for choice, the 800 meters…but he knows in his gut that he’s never really giving 100% of himself to training and wants to see what would happen should he put it all on the line.

He starts just short of 10 months out from the Olympic Trials a casual runner; easy 4 milers a few times a week with some friends. He’s balancing a teaching job, a social life, a girlfriend, and coaching for the girls’ cross-country and track teams as well. He’s afraid that this goal may be laughably out of place but he wants to at least see what the end result would be if he poured all he had into running.

Characters: Along with McNeal and his three other training partners make up most of the cast; I enjoyed the balance of characters and feel that they were all developed rather well. There is enough given to each that you were interested in their own little side-stories outside of the main character’s. Their coach is perhaps my favorite as he’s a straight shooter and adds in plenty of comedic moments, I think we all know someone like him and to me I could vividly picture a coach just like this guy. McNeal himself is substantiated well and is easy to resonate with and relate to.

Plot: Overall it had mini-climaxes leading up to the true climax; enough bumps along the way to keep it interesting and the book moving forward. It was a little rushed overall and I would have liked to see some of the obstacles fleshed out a bit more and see the characters struggle a bit more.
olympic runners
Overall: The premise of running with no regrets, and living with the pursuit of answering the question of ‘what if’ is of course something I like to pass on to others. Reilly is a runner and coach himself so there were enough ‘real runner’ references and soliloquies that runners will enjoy. He references specific elites, races, and details only runner nerds would get; I liked that as it also added more merit to the thoughts and perspectives McNeal explained or thought to himself. Reilly was certainly going for an inspirational story here which would be uplifting to runners and non-runners alike. However, I do feel that it bordered a bit on the side of too unrealistic at times or too much of a stretch. Perhaps if it had spanned a few years rather than merely 10 months of getting McNeal to the Trials and performing as well as he did it would have been easier to believe. Given that I’ve lived alongside Olympic and World Class runners and watched how they train and live it may make me a little biased, but I’ve seen how much work goes into going for a goal like this and it’s not something to take lightly. McNealΒ did make sacrifices but I’m not sure if it’s as much as would be needed to perform at the level he ended up doing especially in only 10 short months.

I really enjoy do reading anything that has to do with running so I did enjoy ‘Chasing Ghosts’; it would be a motivational read to anyone in the sport of distance or track running. I just would have liked to have seen it played out over years rather than months as that would have made it more realistic and easier, in my mind, to believe.

1) Do you believe in living, or running, with no regrets? How do you put yourself out there or are there any dreams that you have or are currently chasing to answer the ‘what if’ in your life?

2) How do you set goals? Do you tell people about them, only some of them, or keep them to yourself?
Depends on the goal I think.

3) What are some of your favorite running related books?

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8 thoughts on “Living to Answer the ‘What if’ Questions and ‘Chasing Ghosts’ Book Review

  1. I definitly believe in it. You only live once, so you gotta live it to the fullest. I actually have a little notebook where I write down all my goals. Some I know will never happen but some I’m determined to do. No one really knows all the things I want to do in my book, they might know a few but other than that, I keep them to myself.
    Unless I want to be motivated, then I tell people because if they are negative about it, it just motivates me to reach it. πŸ™‚

  2. I’d love to check out this book!! I think big goals are incredibly important to set. I was actually thinking about doing a post on this! One of my big goals is to run in the olympics. Now, I know that odds are that will never happen. But if I don’t set sky high goals, I won’t finish as far as I know I can. Having a crazy goal in mind keeps me going “just in case”. Of course I have realistic goals too, but the higher I shoot, the higher I land!

  3. Hey Cait,
    Thanks for the review and I’m glad you mostly enjoyed it. As for the timing of the comeback, I felt that keeping the storyline in a one-year time frame created a more interesting story. I do understand the lifestyle sacrifices needed to run at an elite level and tried to convey them while keeping an “everyman” kind of feel. Thanks again for helping get out the word!

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