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Written by Rod O’Donnell on 26 September 2018.

Let Your Mind Run, A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory, a book written by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton, will entertain, inspire, and educate its readers. The story of Deena’s career, from an age group and high school phenom, through her collegiate experience and her post-graduate years, will provide readers with a story of the successes and failures that led her to the top of her sport; however, I found the best part of the book to be the description of physical tenacity and mental toughness that she possessed and how these attributes continued to develop and reach new heights under the guidance of Joe Vigil, one of America’s greatest distance coaches.

Despite the fact that she was an All-American and an SEC 10,000 meter champion at the University of Arkansas, Kastor never felt that she had reached her potential. That changed when her collegiate career was ending and an assistant coach at Arkansas recommended that she contact Vigil, who was training Olympic hopefuls in Alamosa, Colorado. The results of following that advice and moving to train at altitude with a world-renowned coach were responsible for her becoming one of the greatest distance runners in U. S. history.

The following excerpt from the book is an example of how Vigil prepared her mind, as well as her body: “At the core of his many stories was a distinction between success and excellence. Success was ‘having’:  money, awards, and status. Excellence was ‘being’: living your values, having them guide your daily life. Pursue excellence, and success will follow.” Is it any wonder why Vigil, who is one of the greatest “running scientists” in history, is also a genius when it comes to preparing the minds of his athletes?

Another invaluable part of the book are the quotes that appear on the first page of each chapter. Anyone associated with our great sport, be it an athlete, coach, or fan, will find these quotes applicable in their professions and daily lives.

“Your thoughts control your actions,” is a quote we have heard many times. The story of Deena Kastor’s career is absolute proof that this often-used thought is absolutely true. Let Your Mind Run should become a part of every runner’s and coach’s personal library.


Yours in Track,

Rod O’Donnell


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