Endurance – a life of Emil Zatopek, by Rick Broadbent

This was a good read, particularly encouraging to me as an erstwhile and very amateur 10km runner.  I first heard of the Czech long distance runner Emil Zatopek when I was just a boy.  I used to get “Look and Learn” and “World of Wonder (incorporating ‘Speed and Power’)” which were improving and educating magazines for the boys of the time.  And I recall reading in those magazines about Zatopek’s amazing triple triumph at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. That year, he took the gold medal in the 5000m, 10000m, and in the Marathon. And as he entered the stadium at the end of the Marathon, the magazine told me, he heard the crowd chanting, Zatopek, Zatopek, Zatopek…

I found the book much more interesting in the first half, which dealt with Zatopek’s upbringing and his early success as an athlete.  The second half, dealing with his fame and his struggles with the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, whilst important enough a subject, I confess I found less stimulating.

But it was certainly inspiring.  Zatopek’s training methods (he more or less invented “interval training”), his humble background and his sheer success captured my attention.  I myself have run a little faster and a little harder since reading this book.

 

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