March 02, 2010

Once A Runner

This is kinda how I've been feeling I was 'Once A Runner'! I recently came down with a pretty decent bronchial infection and ended up missing a few days of work for the first time in close to a decade. In the last two weeks I've run only three times...Once A Runner...I guess I'll just call it my month long taper leading in The Chuckanut 50k in Bellingham, Washington on March 20th. Anyways, back to my original posting...

I had heard of John L. Parker, Jr's book through the running circles for a few years now. When I first caught wind of it however, it had been out of print for a few decades and the only available used copies were attracting upwards of $75 online! According to a website called Bookfinder, 'Once A Runner' was the most-searched for out-of-print fiction or literature book for all of 2007 and 2008!

Thankfully this all changed in 2009 as they finally re-released an updated version of the cult classic. I managed to snag a new one off of Amazon for just $15!

I like to read, though I'll be the first to admit that I don't do it nearly enough. It takes a good book to keep me interested and this was most certainly I book I could not put down. Last night I finally finished off the last 1/3 of it...from 2am-5am (apparently this medication I'm currently on doesn't quite allow for a regular sleeping pattern!)

The general outline of the book centers around a fictional character by the name of Quenton Cassidy and his college pursuit of running a sub four minute mile. The majority of rest of the running names utilized in this book however are based around the real legends of the sport. Written in 1978 and based in the 1960's, it also served as a bit of an education to this running newbie.

I didn't run track in high school or college, as I only began running in 2004. This book however, made me truly wish I had done so as a teenager! The story is completely gripping and anyone who currently competes seriously in the sport of running/ultra running can certainly associate with the sacrifices that are necessary to succeed.

If you have a track background, chances are you've already read this novel or at least heard of it. If like myself however you are fairly new to the sport you may not have heard of this book just yet and as such I'd like to be the first to tell you to grab a copy and devour it. I'm pretty sure you'll love it as much as I did!



Derrick said...

Greatest running book of all time!...yes, far superior to 'Born to Run'. I have a tattered copy that does not leave our house. Parts of it are pure poetry. I usually read it, or at least parts of it, about once a year. Almost makes me want to go back and run track again...almost.

Good to see it re-released so that others can enjoy.

Get healthy Gary. Hope the bronchial infection comes around soon.

Thomas said...

If I had to have only one book for the rest of time, Once a Runner would be it.
Not sure if you already know, but the sequel to it came out last fall- "Again to Carthage." Can't compare to the original, but a very solid read itself.

garobbins said...

Haven't heard great reviews on 'Again To Carthage' but will certainly have to pick it up and see what I think of it personally!
It's funny, this book really does resonate deep with the people who've read it. I love that Derrick has a copy that doesn't leave the house!

Luke said...

Gary, I totally agree, a must read! Like you I didn't run competitively until later in life, it really makes me wish I had. Great post!

Jason Eads said...

Thanks for the recco, Gary. While I'm certainly not a "competitive" runner, I do love to run and am certain I'll enjoy this book.

I didn't run track or CC in school and already wish I had, but that's water under the bridge, as they say.

Good news is, it's NEVER too late to learn!


Thanks for the book idea too. I only read research articles-but liked 'born to run' ...So will def get this one.

Ps, the good things about being sick- is that it will force you to rest without guilt and you'll totally appreciate how GREAT it will feel to be just 'normal' when better. Wishing you strength in your recovery!

Keegan Rathkamp said...

I read "Once a Runner" when I was in college. It was spring and we were heading down to the Duke Invitational in North Carolina. Once I started reading it I truly could not put it down. I started the book on the trip down and finished it on the trip back. It was so inspiring I even won my heat of the steeplechase that weekend. Definitely a great read. I could feel my blood pumping while reading about the 60x400 workout in barefeet. Although I am more of a Born to Run fan. Once a Runner is a book that holds a special place in any true runners heart. Especially if you like to run hard and see what your body can handle. Track Background or not.

Sara Montgomery said...

So many good quotes in OAR. This one gets me every time:

"Running to him was real; the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary behond comprehension. But it also made him free."

The whole book is worth it for that alone, but there is so much more too.

NJ said...

I just heard about this book (obviously I don't have a track background) and was going to check if the library had a copy. Thanks for the reminder!

Aaron said...

Watch out Gary... racing flats, interval workouts and now you're reading the college track runner's bible. Pretty soon you'll be wearing short shorts, talking about 200m split times and hanging out at the rubberized oval on hot summer evenings. It's a slippery slope my friend.

Vince said...

Hey Gary,

When I started writing book reviews about a year ago, first for the Burlington Runners Times newsletter, then on, "Once a Runner" is a book that many have referred to me. In fact, in my last post I mention that this would be my next review .

I'm heading to the Dominican Republic for a week and this book was the first think a packed (along with John Irving's latest novel..)

Gotta run,

wiglebot said...

Thanks, I will read it. I loved "Born to Run" because of the real characters in the book that I could google and watch on youtube.

Also, I am reading "Its Not about the Bike" and love it because of the gruff honesty. Lance said in his young years he would always attack a break-away from a place of anger. That was so shocking to me.

garobbins said...

Right on guys/gals, nice to hear so much feedback on this Aaron says though, an apparent slippery slope...might we see me in short shorts for the first time EVER this summer, dah dah dah...