The Lola Papers [Book Review]

The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner
I recently finished the book The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner by Amy Marxkors. The concept of “The Lola Papers” stemmed from a regular feature that was in the St Louis Fleet Feet Sports newsletter about the author’s journey through running. And eventually it came together as a book.

First, what this book isn’t… this is not a book that will tell you a running “how-to” or give you training plans, nutrition advice or gear recommendations. It’s a heartfelt retelling of the author’s running experiences, from approaching a local running god aka “Mr. Speedypants” to help her prepare for a marathon to becoming a real competitor in events.

The book feels approachable, it doesn’t mention paces and the girl learning to run could be anyone. I appreciated that, it seriously felt like this could be me in these situations. From the verbal slips that you make with friends during long runs, to trying to seem like you are more knowledgeable than you are around a certain group… the book kind of touches on these situations. And the camaraderie that comes from running mile upon mile with others.

There’s humor in the book. The main group of runners has inside jokes (the reader is let in on the joke, just so you don’t feel left out!) and I love when the author starts seriously training to PR in a 5K. She talks about the hurt that comes from really pushing on that distance and there is a line that made me laugh out loud: “I am convinced the 5K is simply humanity’s most inconvenient method of obtaining a T-shirt.”

It’s not until later on when you realize that the author is FAST! As she’s racing a half marathon and people yell out to her that she’s the “First female!” you start to recognize that there is a truly skilled runner in this person that seemed so hesitant at the beginning.

But that raises a great “What if?”… who knows what each of us are capable of if we put forth the effort and learn to push past the hurt? I know that I shy away from the “hurt” that can come with really pushing your limits, but that means that I could be depriving myself of finding my greatness.

At the end of the book there is a great statement that just warrants repeating:

Marathon training is a microcosm of life. In a very tangible way, it presents us with the challenges and the joys, the monotony and the adventure, the loneliness and the camaraderie, the failure and the triumph, of life. We love the sport. And we hate it. It breaks us down and lifts us up. It prompts us to respond to a never-ending succession of circumstances and trials. It is humanity concentrated into mere hours, simultaneously revealing our character and growing it. In exposing our weaknesses, it increases our strength. We are not the same for having run. We cannot be.

Beautiful… This book a great read, something beginners could use as inspiration to keep going, something experienced runners could use motivation to reignite the fire or nod along in agreement as they see their own journey. Look into this one!

The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner
The Lola Papers on Facebook
Author Amy Marxkors on Twitter


  1. I read this on vacation a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it as well. Being a busy body, I wanted to know her times, of course, so I looked her up on Athlinks. 🙂 That also illustrated that the “races” she writes about are pseudonyms for the real races, and some of the surrounding circumstances are fictionalized (both of which she does say in the foreward). That didn’t bother me, as the book was about her overall experience with running, not an autobiography (just think how much better off James Frey would have been with a similar disclaimer). (On vacation–I was in Kona–I also read Iron War by Matt Fitzgerald and I highly recommend it!)

  2. This sounds like an interesting book. Unfortunately the library doesn’t have it yet, but I’ll have to keep checking. I’m glad you posted this review because 1) I’m not sure if I would have heard of it otherwise, and 2) Desite the saying, I have a bad habit of judging books by their covers, and this cover doesn’t really draw me in.

  3. I had never heard of this book before reading your review, but I have to admit I’m sucked in now, I want to read more! That quote pretty much did me in 🙂 I will look for this – thanks for the great review!

    • Yeah… me too!
      But I’m using it as motivation to delude myself into believing that I’ll come back to running in the fall super fast! LOL!

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