Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Strides.

Yesterday, I finished reading "Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete" by Benjamin Cheever. The part memoir, part running history has been out for over a year, so I'm late to the party but I wanted to share some thoughts because I enjoyed this book. It was an easy-breezy read, full of some interesting facts along with Cheever's personal running story.

This guy loves to run and "Strides" is certainly a paean to running. That's probably why I enjoyed it. That and Cheever's peppy writing style. And it is peppy. I didn't expect peppy from a 60 (or so) year old guy. But, that's what he is. And it worked for me: I plan to pick up some of his other (fiction) books and check him out.

Anyway, there was one passage in the book that stood out. Cheever writes about the transformational power of running -- how it can help you lose weight, kick bad habits, etc., etc. And he says that what runners know is that running can change you in deeper ways, in essence, making your life better.

What I want is to be a better person, and running seems to be one clear way to move toward this goal. Moral advances are hard to measure. Without measurement, they're hard to believe in. But you can get faster. Or maybe just try. I hate it when people say, "All we want is for you to do your best." I never do my best. Maybe the last 100 yards of a 10-K, but I have no kick, and so my best is nothing to write home about. But sometimes I do try. I try hard enough so that I'm gasping for air. And having tried that hard, then other qualities may fall into place.
I get that. I understand that from my own running and it is something that is often a little hard to communicate to others: That by getting out there and trying, really pushing yourself in your running, you're improving the rest of your life. I don't know if it makes sense to people who don't run -- maybe it does, I can't say -- but it makes sense to me.

If you haven't read the book, I recommend heading to your local library and checking it out.

17 comments:

BeachRunner said...

That sounds like a great read and I like that it's easy breezy too. Thanks for the recommendation. Happy Thanksgiving Flee.

BeachRunner said...

Sorry I didnt mean to stir up "old school" shizzy feelings. I just think it is the cutest nickname ever. But look at mean only thinking about myself. How about I drop it, and I call you Leece? or Leee? or my #1 Upstate Homie (btw, dont get too full of yourself, you are tied with Marcy for #1 Upstate Homie)?

Julianne said...

Sounds like a great book! I love deep thoughts and insights about running! So inspirational. :-)

BeachRunner said...

I meant "ME" not "mean"

Candice said...

I totally get that! I love it. The other day some members of my family were asking me why in the world I like to run. It was hard to explain to them...they just don't understand. Sure wish I would have had this quote handy:) Thanks for the post.

The Happy Runner said...

BR: I can take it! I actually think it is better than Leece. HA!

X-Country2 said...

Great quote. Sounds like a pretty good book too. Thanks for the rec.

RunToFinish said...

wow, I'm sold on the book! That is so true, I'm always trying to be a better person and running drives that or supports that or maybe both!

Diana said...

I really don't *get* it, but I can understand how that may work. I think it's something you need to experience before you can truely understand though.

RunnerMom said...

I absolutely get that. Just recently I had 2 runs and a race where I actually gave it my all and was gasping for air the whole time. And I know it made me both mentally and physically stronger. Running is funny that way.

I saw this quote in Her Sports this summer. "Fast may not be possible, but FASTER always is." That's my new mantra. :-)

tfh said...

Thanks for the quotation and the recommendation. I will definitely add it to my list. Happy Thanksgiving!

Marlene said...

Love the quotation. Sounds like a good book - thanks for sharing!

J said...

I will DEFINITELY add this to my reading list! Thanks for posting about! That is awesome that it has inspired you!

Vava said...

Great tip on the book! thanks.

The Laminator said...

Catching up...

I like that quote. Thanks for the book recommendation. Will definitely check that out.

Amanda said...

Too many people get caught up in thinking they aren't doing enough, be it running or reading, what they lose sight of is that by just doing you are triumphing.

We run with the kids in the warmer weather and it makes me soar with pride when they bleat: Faster, go faster!

I Run for Fun said...

Sounds like a great book...thanks for the recommendation. Running has definitely made me a better person.

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