So, you’re working from home. And your gym is closed. And your restaurants are take-out only. And day-care is closed. Are you losing your mind yet???
The good news is that our favorite activity, running, remains pretty much the same. Running is one of the best activities on the best of days. As it turns out, running is one of the best activities on the worst of days too.
Fresh air, blood pumping, time out of the house, time to yourself — running can save our sanity in these high-anxiety times. But, we can only run for so many hours each day. That brings us back to the main problem with this shelter-in-place order — there are a lot of hours in the day to fill.
As you wait out the next few weeks, here are seven of our favorite books to help you find some escape even when you can’t escape for a run. Enjoy and stay healthy!
You can find these online as eBooks, but don’t forget that if you have a library card, many county libraries have eBooks that you can check out for free!
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
Is anyone surprised that one of the most exciting and prolific novelists of the last 40 years is also an avid runner? Checks out, right? I can recommend any of Murakami’s works highly. But, to hear a master writer write about running is truly something special. This memoir takes us through Murakami discovering writing and running interchangeably. He would not have one in his life without the other. This is for those of us who run to find something, rather than win something. It’s for those of us who run for the same feeling you get when you look up at the stars on a dark night — the overwhelming sense of awe, gratitude and peace. This is for the mystics and the spiritualists. This is for the runners.
Once a Runner, John L Parker
It blows my mind how few runners have heard of this book, let alone read it. Originally self-published, this cult classic has become a bible for cross country, track athletes, avid runners, journeymen, seekers, and the like. The story centers around Quenton Cassidy, a collegiate runner on the brink of running a world-best time in the mile. Quenton must decide if he is willing to sacrifice what is required amidst the cultural uncertainty of the early ’70s. I’ll admit the plot can be goofy at times, but the book contains some of the best prose about running I’ve ever read. This isn’t just one of my favorite books about running – it’s one of my favorite books.
“What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”
Duel in the Sun, John Brant
A book that reinforces the metaphor of life as a marathon. This is the story of the famed 1982 Boston Marathon, widely considered the “last great American marathon.” Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar dueled step for step for all 26.2 miles on an unusually hot day in Boston. They ran alone for the last 8 miles and sprinted the last 1,000 meters neck and neck. The two men ran for very different reasons, came from very different backgrounds, and life would take them in very different directions after the race. Neither man would ever run a race like this again. At the time, it seemed like another notch for American distance running on a beautiful spring day in Boston. However, neither the racers nor the racing world had any idea that American dominance of the sport and the first running boom would end at the finish line of the 1982 Boston Marathon.
The Perfect Mile, Neal Bascomb
Think running fast is a recent occurrence? Think again. This is the story of three men racing each other across three continents to be the first to break the four-minute-mile barrier — Englishman Roger Bannister, Australian John Landy and American Wes Santee. At the time, the four-minute barrier was thought to be beyond the reach of the human body. It was an achievement on par with summiting Mt Everest. This is truly one of the most inspiring stories of the 20th century and a testament to the power of the human spirit. You may think you know the story, but the feat itself is only surpassed by the lives of the men who chased it — Bannister went on to become a doctor, Landy was a naturalist, an author, and the Governor of Victoria, and Wes Santee raced and served as a US Marine.
Kings of the Road, Cameron Stracher
From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, three Americans dominated distance running. Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, and Alberto Salazar remain synonymous with the sport today, and they each did their part to make the marathon the preeminent event in racing and to create the first running boom. 40 years ago, they posted times that would rank each of them at the top of American distance running today. And they didn’t even get paid to do it! Today’s professional marathoner races twice a year. These guys raced twice a month. The mileage, the speed work, and the charisma of all three men boggle the mind. Over the course of a decade they would duel on courses around the world and nearly every summer they collided with each other at the Falmouth Road Race. This is a fast, fun read with great anecdotes. It is littered with stories of the who’s who from American running’s prime, and it will certainly give you a new connection to local races wherever you live.
Running to the Edge, Matthew Futterman
Coach Bob Larsen has shaped American running for 50 years. Coach Bob started at a small San Diego high school and finished coaching Meb Keflezighi to a New York Marathon win and a Boston Marathon win in 2014 — the first American man to win at Boston since 1983. Along the way, Coach Bob won NCAA National Titles as the UCLA track and cross country coach, many Olympic medals, an AAU National cross country championship, all while raising a family. Bob Larsen did all of this by betting on the long shot, the misfits, and the idea that anyone willing to run to the edge and stay on the edge could win.
Running with the Buffaloes, Chris Lear
Part memoir, part biography, part tragedy, and part training log, this book takes you into the throes of the 1998 NCAA cross country season with the University of Colorado Buffaloes men’s team, a team that included Adam Goucher and Coach Mark Wetmore. This is a frank, honest look behind the curtain at the focus and sacrifice required to run at an elite level. Dig deep to find out what it means to be a teammate, a brother, a son, and a partner. And, the most important lesson: that what we often find at the end of a run is ourselves.
Got any other suggestions? Share them on Instagram and tag us @a.runners.mind – we’ll get to reading along with you!