Running Lit


By Fred Deckert 


Recently my good friend, and fine runner, Gail Reinertsen reminded me that the column has never reviewed running literature. Guilty as charged! And to paraphrase Yogi Berra, “running is 99% mental and the other half physical.” It’s now time to rectify the situation with these suggestions.

It’s probably easier and perhaps more helpful to concentrate on authors instead of titles. Dr. George Sheehan could probably be viewed as the “Zen of Running” author. He wrote a number of books addressing the spiritual or emotional side of running, with such titles as “Running and Being.” Most of his books will give you a good flavor for what running meant to him and others he knew. Coaches Bob Glover and Roy Benson are worthwhile authors for books on training programs and running regimen. Insights particular to women’s running are covered by such authors as Joan Benoit Samuelson, Patricia Welch, Anne Audain, Marla Runyon (blind Olympic runner), and Katherine Switzer who brought women into big time long distance competition. Jeff Galloway, ex-Olympian and one of the founders of the local running movement, has written on training and running techniques and is the “father” of the run/walk method in longer races. Joe Henderson and Hal Higdon have written extensively and also in Runner’s World columns. Local writer and publisher John Parker wrote the cult classic “Once a Runner,” a must for collegiate competitors. FSU’s Bruce Tuckman wrote “Long Road to Boston” on his personal experience.

Ultrarunning is well represented by a recent book, “Why we Run” by Bernd Heinrich, a biologist by profession and record-holding ultradistance runner. This book is particularly interesting from the physiology viewpoint and it’s comparison to animal running. Medically oriented authors are Dr. David Costill and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who have done much work on the physical aspects of running. Books on running injuries, like those of Stephen Subotnick and Dr. Murray Weisenfeld found room on my bookshelf.

There are even books on “Pedestrian Races,” a fad of the late 19th century. Large sums of money were wagered, and believe it or not, large crowds of people watched multi-day track races, which were more an endurance contest than a race. A murder mystery, “Wobble to Death” took place on one of those events. Flanagan’s Run by Tom McNab was written on a coast to coast race in the 1930’s which drew many competitors trying to escape the poverty of the depression era via prize money.

So, you can see there is more running literature than you may have suspected and it’s of a wider scope than generally known. Obtaining these books may be as easy as going to the local library. Some may be out of print but available from local enthusiasts like Shannon Sullivan of SportsBeat, who harbors a running library available to the public on a loan basis. Cedarwinds Publishing, John Parker’s Tallahassee firm may also have some of these books available. If all else fails there is always your local running organization, Gulf Winds Track Club, many of whose members are likely to either have of know where to find good running literature.