I wrote this book during the winter of 2010/2011, but I’ve been working on it since 1979.
That’s the year when, as a ninth grader, I started running. Immediately I was enamored. I loved the sense of exploration, of challenging myself, of being outside in all kinds of weather. I loved the time alone, time to think about whatever came to my head. I loved seeing if I could go farther than I ever had, or run a loop faster than I did the week before. I loved how I felt physically while running and how I felt mentally when I was done. [@douglas2011redbook Introduction] - How do runners actually grow into this good after work feeling? Perhaps if it doesn't hurt it's that your not pushing hard enough. Perhaps muscles run fine but get a headache by malnutrition?
Relax, it’s just running. Of course it can be the most intoxicating, captivating, meaningful part of your life. But it’s still just running. Nobody’s making you do it, and you’re not going to save the world doing it. So find what you enjoy about running, and then follow your bliss. [@douglas2011redbook p. 350]
When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Little Engine That Could. As a high school runner and beyond, I often recalled the “I think I can, I think I can” message of the book, especially on seemingly long hills. It sounds so silly, but the message was motivating for me long before I knew other expressions of a similar theme. It was a simple little thing that helped me more than a hundred page treatise on sports psychology ever could.
In high school, I had the good fortune to be coached by John J. Kelley, a two-time Olympian and the winner of the 1957 Boston Marathon. In many hours at his kitchen table, I heard endless quotes from his fellow New England skeptic, Henry David Thoreau. One was “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” This one had a strong effect. I took it to mean that I didn’t have to do a lot of talking or thinking to be a good runner. I just had to do the work.
Running is simple. When we keep it that way, we generally have the best chance of enjoying it and reaching our goals. Often, it’s a little nugget of wisdom, or a way to think about something, that’s more helpful than a day-by-day six-month training program handed down from Mount Olympus.
Amby Burfoot Editor at Large, Runner’s World 1968 Boston Marathon Champion