It’s confession time, faithful readers. As some of you know, I recently spent a week in Mexico, to attend the wedding of Yoga girl and her prince Charming. I was full of good intentions. I brought my running shoes and three changes of running clothes. The first day we were at the resort, I scouted out the location of the gym. It was very impressive…and totally empty except for the one lonely guy whose job it was to keep the floor clean. So right now you must be thinking something like, “She actually went running on vacation in Mexico? That’s so hardcore! This woman is totally deserving of our respect.” Unfortunately, I don’t deserve your (imaginary) accolades. While we were away, I went running…zero times. I can’t even claim that I did much walking between the beach and the bar because Mr. Shuffler was acting as my drink butler for the week. So you can maybe imagine the damage that all-you-can-eat buffets and all-you-can-drink bars wrought. The first time I went running after I got back, things jiggled that weren’t jiggling before I left. It was embarrassing. I can only be thankful that winter running means bulkier outfits.
So what did I actually do that was running-related while I was away? I’m glad you asked. I brought with me a copy of Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks and Adventures and read it on the beach while sipping a tequila sunrise (or maybe it was a pina colada – hard to remember).
Essentially, the book is a compilation of the best long-form stories published in Runner’s World. (Note: Runner’s World is not paying me to write this post. But if they wanted to, they’d be more than welcome.) The stories are generally 8,000 to 9,000 words and are organized into five categories: Inspirations, legends, true originals, the runner’s high and adventures & investigations. There are stories about famous speedsters like Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor and Steve Prefontaine. But there are also stories about important running events and runners who triumphed over amazing odds (including one about a marathon winner who spent three days trapped in a canyon with a broken pelvis – yikes!). A couple of the pieces focus on the experiences of ordinary runners, albeit ones that are still faster than me. There’s even a write-up about Terry Fox’s legacy, which I appreciated enormously.
I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend this for the runner on your Xmas list who 1) likes non-fiction, 2) likes short stories and 3) already has some familiarity with the “personalities” of running. I’ve been reading Runner’s World for a while so I know who most of these runners are but I’m not sure how entertaining it would be if you didn’t know (kind of like me reading about famous golfers, I think). I would also have preferred more Can-con and write-ups about other famous Canadian runners but I can understand why that wasn’t the case.
Do you have a favourite running book? Any Xmas running-related reading recommendations?