Thursday, July 30, 2009

Once a Runner

by John L. Parker, Jr.

First Paragraph: "The night the joggers were out as usual. The young man could see dim figures on the track even in this pale light, slowly pounding round and round the most infinite of footpaths. There would be, he knew, plump, determined-looking women slogging along while fleshy knees quivered. They would occasionally brush damp hair fiercely from their eyes and dream of certain cruel and smiling emcees: bikini's, ribbon-cuttings, and the like. And then, of course, tennis with white-toothed males, wild tangos in the moonlight."

Review: This book has been one of my favorite books I've ever read. The problem is, some people could read this book and wonder what I was thinking but I think it's all about connecting with the story and anyone who has run competitively and loved it can probably relate to this story in one way or another and love it.

I took a little longer to read this book than I normally take to read books but I think it was because I just didn't want it to end. I would find myself reading and re-reading paragraphs over and over - not because I didn't get what they were saying but because the paragraphs were so beautifully written to describe an aspect of running that I couldn't help but read it again. I could probably rewrite most of the book trying to give you a few examples on here but while reading I did mark one paragraph so I'm recording it here for my own benefit:

From the crucible of such inner turmoil come the various metals, soft or brittle, flawed or pure, precious or common, that determine the good runners, the great runners, and perhaps the former runners. For those who cannot deal with (or evade) the consequences of their singular objective will simply fade away from it all and go on to less arduous pursuits. There has probably never been one yet who has done so, however, without leaving a part of himself there in the quiet toiled solace of the early afternoon locker room, knotting his loathsome-smelling laces for yet another ten-miler with the boys. Once a runner ...

This book was all about the career of a mile-runner. I luckily, had nothing to do with the mile but I feel like I ran a race that was "pretty" similar compared to most other races. I spent my career trying to perfect the art of running as fast as I possibly could for much longer than should be allowed - a whole 400m. Anyway, there was a lot I could relate with and I think I will have to buy this book at some point because I would love to have this. My favorite part was when the runner was asked "If it sucks so bad, why do it?" To explain that to someone who hasn't experienced it is impossible. If they have to ask, it really is unlikely they will ever understand.

Anyway, if you have ever enjoyed running you'll probably enjoy this book. If you haven't ever enjoyed running you might like this book anyway but I'm not completely sure.

Click Here for the article from Runners World on John L. Parker and his sequel to Once a Runner.

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