Book Review: Relentless

I read this book during the run-up to the Midland Masters Track & Field Championships as part of my last-minute fine-tuning strategy. (Okay. Hands up. I didn’t actually have one of those strategies, but this book did help with getting my mind into the right space – even though I balked at some of the author’s attitudes.)

Grover works with elite US basketball players and this book draws lessons from his coaching experience over the years. There are upsides and downsides to this book, and while I don’t think I’d like to spend time with the author socially (or have him coach me), I think there are some solid pieces of advice (hidden amongst the swathes of sociopathic must-dos) that have genuine value for all of us, no matter how good we are at the thing we’re trying to get better at.

I won’t sully the reading experience for you by including spoilers in this review. If you’re a win-at-all-cost, use-every-means-including-those-you-love kind of person, you might enjoy everything this guy has to say. If you’re not, you’ll still find something in it of worth – even if that’s a better sense of who you are as a person and what’s important to you in life.

What I Didn’t Like
1. The assumption that I knew everything about basketball and I knew who the author was referring to even when he only used their first name. (Just so you know, I did a great deal of googling while reading the book and now know everything there is to know about basketball 🤣)
2. The unadulterated machismo.
3. The lack of inclusion of female athletes  (who may succeed in spite of not having the opportunity or the desire to be as single-minded because of parenting responsibilities, for example).
4. The underlying premise that leading a ‘good life’ is not as important as winning.
5. The lack of the bigger picture: what are the consequences of following this formula for success when an athletic career comes to an end? (I’d like to know the full price that’s been paid and whether the athletes, in the longer term, were glad they’d decided to take this particular route to ‘success’).

What I Did Like
1.The author is direct, blunt and brutally honest. I don’t agree or like everything he says, but I’m all ears when he’s saying it.
2. I genuinely believe that Grover is very good at what he does. I like the lack of sugar-coating. It’s ‘This is what I do. It works. Take it or leave it.’ It’s authentic. He’s not trying to be anything other than himself. And that authenticity makes for compelling reading.
3. Some of the take-aways were of practical value to me: keeping a cool head under pressure; getting and staying in ‘the zone’ (flow state); ‘contracting’ or signing up to ‘do the work’ (being prepared to ‘boldly go’ where you may not have been before).

Some things happened at last week’s championships that could have thrown me ‘off track’ (quite literally 🤣). Some of Grover’s advice actually helped me to remain cool-headed and get the job done. For that alone, the book was worth every penny – and I read it at exactly the right time for me! I’ll give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️. I think that’s fair. And I also think I’ll give that whole ‘relentless’ thing a little more focus over the coming weeks and I’ll see what happens. I’m curious to discover how ‘relentless’ I can actually be whilst respecting who I really am.

I’m just going outside and may be some time.  (By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)

JT 🙂

Book Review: My Midsummer Morning

I’m almost 6 months into my #OldDogNewTricks adventures now and, as the year moves on, I’ve welcomed the inspiration offered by several books and films. 

With my second adventure looming large (400m/800m track races – first at the West Midlands Masters Track & Field Championships in Nuneaton on Sunday 9 June and then at the Northern Irish Masters Track & Field Championships in Belfast on Saturday 29 June), I was hoping that Alastair Humphreys’ new book, My Midsummer Morningwould see me to the start line this weekend. I’d planned to read a little of it every night, finishing it on Saturday, just before the first athletics meet. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a possibility because I consumed the whole thing in two short sittings!

I review Alastair’s book in today’s video blog (scroll down). In the video I also talk about how the book got me thinking about my own adventures and the motivation behind them. If you want to avoid any kind of spoilers at all, please DON’T WATCH THE VIDEO! Here’s a very brief spoiler-free written review for those of you who want to enjoy Alastair’s book with completely fresh eyes:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Alastair Humphreys sets out to recreate Laurie Lee’s journey through Spain, a journey made famous by the book As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969). Earning his daily crust by busking with a violin (which he is not very good at playing), Alastair’s adventure offers him the joy of human connection, the challenge and reward of vulnerability, and perfect conditions to re-assess his relationship with adventure and with life. It’s a brutally honest, refreshing and heart-warming read. It’s also a rare book in the adventure/travel-writing genre: you feel like you really get to see the human behind the adventurer’s mask. Reading this book, you don’t just feel like you’re a spectator, watching a man or woman complete a challenge. Reading this book, you feel like you’re in Alastair’s head, looking out of his eyes, hearing his (sometimes uncomfortable) thoughts – the kind of thoughts that don’t usually get written down in a book like this. This proximity to the ‘real’ action (Alastair’s honesty with himself) is what sets this book apart. I loved it!

I’m just going outside and may be some time 😉 . (By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)

JT 🙂