Racing the Clock: Running Across a Lifetime

Bernd Heinrich

HarperCollins, 2021

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

An award-winning, much-loved biologist turns his gaze on himself, using his long-distance running to illuminate the changes to a human body over a lifetime

Part memoir, part scientific investigation, Racing the Clock is the book biologist and natural historian Bernd Heinrich has been waiting his entire life to write. A dedicated and accomplished marathon (and ultra-marathon) runner who won his first marathon at age thirty-nine, Heinrich looks deeply at running, aging, and the body, exploring the unresolved relationship between metabolism, diet, exercise, and age. 

Why do some bodies age differently than others? How much control do we have over that process and what effect, if any, does being active have? Bringing to bear research from his entire career and in the spirit of his classic Why We Run, Heinrich probes the questions of how we use energy and continue to adapt to our mutable surroundings and circumstances. Beyond that, he examines how our bodies change while we age but also how we can work with, if not overcome, many of these changes—and what all this tells us about evolution and the mechanisms of life, health, and happiness.

Racing the Clock offers fascinating and surprising conclusions, all while bringing the reader along on Heinrich’s compelling journey to what he says will be his final race—a fifty-kilometer race at age eighty. 


An Amazon Editor's Choice Best Nonfiction


"Passionate meditations on the pleasures and pains of a lifetime of running, with greatest appeal to fellow runners."

-- Kirkus Reviews

"Heinrich delivers a powerful reflection on his decades of competitive running that’s nicely colored by an exploration of the effects of aging on the human body. . . . Heinrich’s keen observations and unique story will keep readers hooked." 

-- Publishers Weekly

"[A] tender memoir...An appealing account of a life spent observing and enjoying nature and frequently running within it."

-- Booklist

"Heinrich effortlessly melds his love of running with his love of observing the natural world...Through Heinrich's expansive observations, readers will also find a candid account of aging gracefully and of finding community through solitary activities...Biologist and ultrarunner Bernd Heinrich inspires readers and runners of all ages as he explores the effects of time on the human body and attempts to set new running records while aging"

-- Shelf Awareness