When I got this book a few months ago I still wasn’t sure if I considered myself “a runner” yet, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I would get out of a book called, “The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life”.
The book is written by Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and editor of Runner’s World magazine. My initial thought was that whatever life lessons Burfoot, an elite runner and Boston Marathon winner, got from running probably weren’t going to apply to the beginner runner (much less someone who wasn’t even sure if they were a runner!). The book takes you through 15 “life lessons”…and I immediately identified with each one of them! Hmmm, maybe I was a runner! And as I read I stopped thinking of Burfoot as “an elite runner and Boston Marathon winner” and began to thinking of him as just “a runner”.
One of my favorite chapters, or “lessons” is called Starting Lines (which I wrote about in a previous post). When I first read this book I had just completed my first half marathon and had an amazing experience. I never would have imagined I could have that much fun running and suddenly couldn’t imagine if I hadn’t started! Burfoot perfectly summed up my feelings in Starting Lines, “Until you begin a new venture, you never know what awaits you…Remember that if you don’t go to the starting line, you will never view the whole course with all it’s possibilities.”
There is something for every runner in this book and I’ve found myself continually going back to it to reference the many quotes I highlighted as I read through it. It’s a simple but enjoyable book that shows us that the essential traits of a runner, or really anyone working towards accomplishing a goal, are the same.
Some of my favorite quotes from The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life:
- Lesson 1, Why Run? – “running clarifies the thinking process as well as purifies the body.”
- Lesson 7, Listening – “Yes, it’s important to listen to everyone around you. But it’s even more important to learn how to listen to yourself.”
- Lesson 8, Losing – “I have learned that there is no failure in running, or in life, as long as you keep moving. It’s not about speed and gold medals. It’s about refusing to be stopped.
- “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” – Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic Marathon gold medalist (This quote scared the heck out of me before my marathon, but I’m happy to report I didn’t find it to be true, I immediately knew I’d run another marathon! Maybe he’d have felt differently if he’d run the Walt Disney World Marathon!)