Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner

I just finished reading a good book on running, The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner by Russell Taylor. It's an hilarious account of the author's decision to run the New York City Marathon. He had never run before, so the book takes you from his first training in the gym through several half marathons and trail races and finally to the big day. Some of the early sections are a little slow and a little too funny, but most of the book is laugh out loud hilarioius.

He also captures many of the emotions and fears and the excitement of new runners. If you are relatively new to running or are pushing yourself to greater distances you will recognize yourself in this book.

I especially liked his race reports. One report was about a particularly challenging trail race called "Race the Train" where runners try to beat a vintage steam train on an out and back course. After failling "despairing and dead" over the finish line, he realizes it was fun and he'd like to do it again:

"Just two minutes, a couple of stretches and a cup of water later I am strolling round the finishing enclosure thinking, 'That was all rather fun.' What is wrong with the human brain? Why is it seemly incapable of retaining the experience of excruciating pain? I know that just five minutes previously I wanted to die and now I could cheerfully sign up to do the whole thing over again."

If you enjoy reading about running and don't take mind laughing at yourself then you will enjoy this book.