Once A Runner by John L Parker, Jr

Are you a runner?  I thought I was at least in a quest to become one.  My husband and I decided to start training months ago, set some running goals and complete several running events including at least (4) ½ marathons this year.


I went on a mission to find some books to read this year about running. Once a Runner by John L Parker, Jr was repeatedly recommended.  I thought it would be a great way to start my year.


It took a few chapters to get into the book but Cassidy will steal your heart.  My favorite things about this book are some of the “Ah-ha” moments I had and the insightful or shocking things the author says.


The one that stands out the most is

“When they occasionally blew by a huffing fatty or an aging road runner, they automatically toned down the banter to avoid over whelming, to preclude the appearance of showboating (not that they slowed in the slightest). “

This one kind of hit me in the gut.  There was so much in this one sentence that struck me.  I’m a huffing fatty.  I didn’t know that I had a name to “real runners”.  So that probably means I’m on the outs and not a real runner. I always feel subconscious when I run by another runner.  But now I have a feeling that I’m gonna have a complex.  It didn’t help that he went on to note we are, “distant cousins of the spirit.”


Now there were some encouraging moments,

“You don’t become a champion by winning a morning workout.  The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months and (if you could finally come to accept it) years.”

Yes, I could say this is encouraging with a sarcastic tone but what is said here is the truth.  It’s the dedication of the continue work; not a moment 5k but the entire daily log.  This is something I’ll need to remind myself.


“We must have a plan even if it is wrong.”  I do plan and plan and plan.  I’m a list person.  I don’t think I have a problem with having the plan.  Although I’m sure that is some people error.  I need to stop over thinking.  Stop over analyzing.  Make the plan, stick with the plan, and complete the plan.  Don’t keep altering the plan or its no longer the plan and will get too complicated.


Another great advice and one that I wish that I could actually implement, “Better to get it all over with and then be able to enjoy the day like any other citizen.”  Again, I wish I was a morning person.  Maybe in my process this will come.  Maybe.


Chapter 17 on Breaking Down was very thought provoking to me.  I don’t want to give away too much of the book here but I enjoyed reading the different takes on it.  I hadn’t realized that I just come out of breaking down or that there was such a thing so after reading this chapter it was eye opening.  It also made me wish even more that I had been a runner a high school where I could have had a coach to teach me things.  Chapter 17 really makes a person think about, “What is my why?”  “Why do I run?”


The perspective that the author gives Denton on conditioning was extremely interesting.

“People conceptualize condition in different ways,” he said.  “Some think it’s a ladder straight up.  Others see plateaus, blockages, ceilings.  I see it as a geometric spiraling upward, with each spin of the circle taking you a different distance upward.  Some spins may even take you downward, just gathering momentum for the next upswing.  Sometimes you will work your fanny off and see very little gain; other times you will amaze yourself and not really know why.”

I always think of it as a ladder with plateaus.  Plateaus can be short or long.  The ladder is never ending.  But the thought of spins had never occurred to me.  I like the thought of gaining momentum not being blocked from the next rung.  I normally would say, its just a mind thing. However after the Midnight Madness run; I know that this game is a mind thing.  The mind is a powerful tool that can be used in both directions.


This book had me full of different emotions.  I laughed and cried.  It made me think of why I run…  but AM I a runner?  The book says you know you’re a runner when you don’t want to run but you do it any way.  I think I’m on a quest that I’m getting better at every day.  Are you a runner?

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