An Inspirational Memoir of a Tormented Athlete


Who would think such a depressing life story was capable of providing extreme motivation and inspiration to anyone and everyone who hears it? Dick Beardsley did just that when he wrote about his amazing running prodigy and the tragic years that followed. Overcoming several near death accidents, and a deadly addiction gave Beardsley the heart-felt story to tell. The Autobiography of Dick Beardsley is a compelling life story told with an inspirational voice, detailed description, excellent organization, and provides advice to anyone with a seemingly impossible goal. 

Anyone looking for inspiration can turn to this memoir and be truly inspired. For example, when Beardsley introduces the novel he states, “A lot of the races I’ve run, I didn’t choose to. Like my battle with drug addiction, or my recovery from a farm accident. But in every case, I’ve given it my best effort and I have overcome obstacles that do a lot of people in, for good” (Beardsley XII). Beardsley’s story reaches out to even those with no interest in running, because everyone is faced with obstacles in life, and this book gives you the will power to overcome them. All readers find inspiration from Beardsley’s autobiography, even if they weren’t looking for it in the first place. In addition, as Beardsley reviews the significant times throughout his life, he adds, 

To me there’s no feeling like telling a story about my addiction or how I keep myself motivated and having people on the edge of their seats-like they can’t wait to hear what’s next. Having that connection with an audience is better than any drug. I honestly think I live to inspire people. I wouldn’t wish all this pain on Mary and Andy, but if they can forgive me, it has been for the best. I mean that. I am the luckiest man alive (201). 

The fact that Beardsley can take the worst parts of his life and turn them into the best only proves to say that his positive and inspirational voice carries along throughout the whole book. The strong voice portrayed gives the reader interest and a reason to relate to the novel.

The addictive like quality the book contains is powered by excellent description. For example, as Beardsley runs the Boston Marathon, the happiest moment of his life, he describes,

It seems like nobody works in Boston on Patriot’s Day. They all come to watch the marathon… People were ten and twenty deep on each side. There were parties, bands, everywhere. You ran by Wellesley College at about the halfway point and the girls-it was an all-girls school-were going nuts. They were screaming so loud you could hardly hear anything at all…People on each side of the street could have reached out and touched people on the other side. It was so thick with spectators you couldn’t even see how the hills went up. It was just this mass of humanity, people hanging out of trees or whatever. And the noise! (98). Even though Beardsley doesn’t state his emotion at that exact moment, the reader can feel it just by the description. As he describes the mass amount of supporters throughout his race, it creates a clear image in the reader’s mind of that exact moment. In addition, when Beardsley is headed towards the path of sobriety, he recounts, “Like I itched, all over, but I couldn’t scratch. Or if I scratched, rather than relieving the itch it got worse. I’d lie in bed shaking, wondering how I was going to make it another second-let alone a few minutes, hours, or days. Every nerve ending in my body, it seemed, had been whacked off and dipped in hot oil” (191). The great use of detail Beardsley put into describing the pain and misery he suffered, allows the reader to feel his agony, and understand how much energy it took out of him to quit his addiction. Each action and thought throughout the novel creates a clear and interesting understanding because of the sensational descriptions. 

Beardsley structures his story effectively and simply which allows a clear and focused message for the reader. Each section represents a different milestone in Beardsley’s life. Within each paragraph, he lists each event that created this milestone, and the path he took to get there. Each chapter ends with a suspenseful event, causing the reader to yearn for more. The seven different hospital visits mentioned in the book don’t distract from the moral of the story, but help move it along while creating an interesting picture for the reader. This outline makes it easy for the reader to follow along, and gives a clear moral of the story, without jumping from experience to experience.

Dick Beardsley’s life story provides helpful advice to those with similar struggles and desires. For example, in Beardsley’s last milestone, the road to recovery, he states, “I had to look at myself honestly, look at the world honestly, and take responsibility for what I found out. Being honest and taking responsibility: those were critical to my recovery” (192). From experience, Beardsley realizes that the only way he could overcome his addiction was admitting that he was addicted. This advice helps any reader attempting to break an addiction, or anything else for that matter. In addition, when Beardsley explains his success of sobriety, he states, “No matter how many years of sobriety I rack up, I’ll always identify with the person just starting out. Because we’re all in the same boat. It’s day to day, the struggle. You can never take it for granted, no matter how long you’ve been sober. Every day’s your first day” (203). The advice Beardsley gives takes his novel to another level. Not only is his story told for entertainment, but also for the benefit of people in need.

The story of Dick Beardsley’s life itself is worth the read, but the strong voice, excessive use of detail, clear organization, and helpful advice make this book a must read. Each supported characteristic proves that The Autobiography of Dick Beardsley is an influential story everyone should take the time to read.