Book Review: The Long Run by Matt Long

The Long Run by Matt Long has been on my reading list for far too long.  I finally ended up purchasing it on my kindle over Christmas break and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.  How do I describe it?  Inspiring.  Funny.  Heart-breaking.  Up lifting.  A must read for every runner, athlete and, really, anyone who wants to be inspired.

The Long Run is the story of Matt Long, a single middle-aged dude living the dream in New York City.**  (God, are we really middle age when we turn forty??).  He’s a seasoned member of the NYFD, owner of several successful bars in NYC, a ladies’ man, friend to many and a much-loved member of a big catholic family.  He also got the athletic bug that so many of us get and worked his ass off to become an ironman and a Boston Qualifier.  He got his BQ at the NYC marathon in November of 2005 and was ultra pumped for 2006:  the year he would run Boston and try to qualify for Kona.  But his life changed a few days before Christmas in 2005 when he was biking to meet his buddies for a pre-work workout and he was, literally, run over by a commercial bus on the streets of NYC.

The book describes, in detail, his injuries (his bike seat literally ripped him right up the middle) that he suffered from being run over by a bus.  It takes you through the days following his accident, when he had many many surgeries and was given a less than 5% chance to live.  It describes for you the outpouring of love and support that he received from his friends, his co-workers, his fellow athletes, his family, the city of New York and from complete strangers.  It gives you an in-depth look into Matt’s heart and soul, as he describes the feelings of frustration and hopelessness when he learned that he may never walk again, let alone run again.

Most of my blog readers are runners.  Or if you aren’t, you at least know me well enough to know how HUGELY important running is to me and what it does for me in so many different areas of my life.  Matt’s book does such a fabulous job of describing what he went through, thinking that running was lost to him.  Somewhere in the book he commented that non-runners don’t get it.  And I agree.  I don’t think they do.  But you runners get it.  We are devastated when we suffer an injury that puts us on the sidelines for days, weeks or months.  Heck, I’ve admitted it here before, I’m a crabby B*#ch when I skip one day of running.  So to be faced with the thought of never running again in your life, well, that IS devasting.

But Matt’s story tells us how determination, perseverance and the sheer will to accomplish something really do work.  After almost two years of not doing anything (except surgery and basic rehab that allowed him to sit up, etc), Matt decided that he wanted to, once again, run the New York City Marathon.  So, literally, in like 6 months he goes from not running one single step to running a marathon.  He takes us through the intense PT that he did.  He tells us about how excited – and terrified – he was the night before he would do his first “run” in over 2 years.  (I love how he carb-loaded on pasta and red wine by himself the night before his run, which was one mile in 17:xx minutes!).  And then we get the play-by-play as he DOES accomplish his goal and runs the NYC marathon in 7+ hours, with his two buddies at his side.   And, really, as a reader and a runner who has BQ’ed herself, I have no doubt that running the NYC marathon in 7+ hours, when he never thought he would never run another step again, was WAY more significant to him than the BQ marathon itself was.

At the end of his book Matt shares with us that he has found a greater purpose in life:  he uses his story to inspire and motivate people.  He talks about his foundation called I Will, which is a program to help people come back from life-altering illnesses and injuries and to enjoy their lives to the fullest.  As he says in his book, “The foundation’s name, I Will, comes from the night when I told my brother Eddie that I was tired of wallowing in misery of my injuries and moaning over how those injuries stole my dreams.  The night I told Eddie that somehow, someday, “I will run again.”  and I did run, farther than many people – including myself – ever dreamed possible”

He sums it up at the end of his book, with the following passage, which I love:

“I live with these and other frustrations.  They are part of my daily marathon.  But as any marathoner will tell you, part of the sport is realizing that not every race day is going to end with your best time.  Sometimes you have to accept that the unexpected might trip you up.  You train 16, 20, 30 weeks, getting your body into the best shape possible, and then you arrive at the starting line, and the rain begins to fall, then never stops, and your shoes get soggy, and your body feels raw, and your legs just don’t feel like going anymore.  You finish the race and you look at your time, and you think, Wow, rough day.  And then, if you love the sport and all that it offers, you think, When is the next race?”

Indeed, as a fellow runner, I understand and respect and get Matt.  And, I can only hope that if I were ever faced with even a fraction of the challenges that Matt was faced with, I would have the courage and drive to ask myself, “When is the next race?

**I’m not gonna lie to you.  Almost from the start of the book, I developed a crush on Matt.  The way they interspersed his accident and recovery, with his “old” life really gave the reader a big picture of Matt.  And he is quite the package.  We got to know him pre-accident: ultra-fun, a bit cocky, charming, sexy, eternally single player, yet value driven and a family man, athletic, determined, hard-working, NYFD, iron man, and BQ marathoner.  And we got to know him post-accident:  sensitive, even more family oriented, more determined than ever, courageous, so open and honest, and still athletic and focused.  Sorry to disappoint the single lady blog readers, but I stalked Matt via the internet did my research to write this blog book review and Matt is now taken.  Good for him!  He recently married an ultra gorgeous, ultra family oriented single mom.   I guess what he wrote in his book, which was told to him by another man who had been through a horrific accident and rebounded just as nicely, was true:  the best things in his life happened after his accident.  Love and happiness could not have happened to a more deserving, inspiring individual!

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3 Responses to Book Review: The Long Run by Matt Long

  1. Kristy says:

    I did some stalking too and saw that he got married. Then I had to stalk more for some pics. So very happy for him!!!

  2. werrunners says:

    This was one of the first books I read when I started running. I actually listened to the audible version and found that I couldn’t wait to get back in the car to listen more. Matt helped inspire me to run my first marathon and my second a month later (and a few more on tap later this year). Tamara and I visited New York early last year and I had to run in Central Park. We even made a visit to Third and Long. I wrote a blog post about this and have included the link below. Great review and post – Happy Running

    http://werrunners.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/running-memories-new-york-central-park/

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