It’s a new year and your resolution (once again) is to get fit by running. But being a literary type, you are not going to rush out and immediately pound the pavement for mile after mile. Oh no! First, you will read a book or two about running for inspiration and perhaps guidance.
Running is so simple – you just put one foot in front of another – and yet it has inspired a raft of fiction and non-fiction. Pheidippides’ epic run kicked off this sub-genre and remains a key piece of ancient Greek folklore.
Our fiction selection will have your heart pounding. The novel Once a Runner by John L. Parker used to be one of North America’s most sought-after out-of-print books until a publisher realized there was massive demand. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was one of the best short stories to emerge from the late 1950s. There’s also a little science fiction where running means running for your life.
And as the non-fiction, there is the tale of Eric Liddell who wouldn’t run on a Sunday at the Olympics and Dorando Pietri who took 10 minutes to cover the last 300 meters of the 1908 marathon, as well as the landmark run of Roger Bannister, the tragedy of American middle distance runner Steve Prefontaine and the massive cultural impact caused by Jesse Owens’ four gold medals at Berlin Olympics.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami has become a modern classic as the Japanese author describes how running has influenced his writing. Murakami has run a marathon every year for the past twenty years and he has completed an ultramarathon - a 62 mile course. His book about running is equal parts travelogue, training log and a look back on how funny has shaped his life.
Everywhere you look someone is running, or least reading about it.