Taking Time to Read “The Happy Runner”

After yesterday’s tough run(s), I decided that it was time for a green highlight in the running log.

In other words a rest day, well at least from running, but around our the house there is always something beyond resting to get or be done. However, I got a rest day from running, which in turn freed up 1-2 hours of time that let me really get into one of my Birthday presents.

“The Happy Runner” by David & Megan Roche.

I was initially hesitant to ask for this book, it seemed a little too outside of my normal running books, which I have probably too many of anyway. There are a LOT of different theories and books on how to become a better runner, person or whatever it is you want to improve and this book according to some reviews seemed to think it was a little too much woo and not enough substance.

However, over the last 4-6 months I have been searching for answers to where do I want to go with my running now that I am 62. I know that I have to do things differently than I used to, so I figured “why not” and at the last minute I added this book, to a list of things that I wanted for my birthday.

I have gotten about halfway through The Happy Runner and while it does have some hippy sounding “woo” stuff going on. It also has some pretty spot-on, practical stuff. The best thing that I have found so far is about racing.

Racing over the years came close to destroying my love for running, being honest I am too much of a never was runner – decent but nothing special, then when I add in some woulda, shoulda, coulda thoughts, along with too many delusions of grandeur – I tend to get off on some pretty fantastical tangents. As a result all those wonderful thoughts I developed a bad case of race anxiety, which still rears its head every so often.

Some of the ideas that I have read in The Happy Runner so far seem to make sense and the idea of using races as checkpoint to see where you are in the long-term process versus the be all, end all of a training cycle.

This one idea really reasonated with me and is helping me look at racing from a different perspective, which in turn is helping to reflect on a the question.

The Why

The Roche’s harped so much on continually asking why and kept digging down to a different level every few pages. Once I got beyond the surface levels of why I run and I started asking myself why that was important. Things got a bit wonky and I had a hard time answering the real why of why I run.

At least until I took the time to sit down and write this post. As usual putting things outside of my head helped to clarify what I needed to think about and focus on.


Why do I run?

The puppy magic reason why I choose to get off the easy chair, out the door and go for my run.

The stock answers were all there fairly quickly: improving my health (physical and mental), time for myself, being able to eat what I want within reason, fitting into the sized clothes that I want, challenging myself – to do more than I think I can, competing against myself or other people and all those other things that we tell ourselves and others when asked “Why do you run?”

But what is the real reason that I keep running?

When I step back and really think about it…running is a part of who I am and has been a part of my life through good times, bad times, injuries and even the daily grind. I enjoy the way each run challenges me (body, mind and yes, the soul) differently even if it is the same course – the enjoyment is sometimes more after running than during 🙂 .

It was the way that the question was framed in The Happy Runner, that it stopped me from giving my stock answers and forced me to really think of the answer from a different perspective.

Getting back to the question…

Why do I run?

I run because…I still can.

The reality is that

Even though I am only half-way through the book, there is something different about the approach of The Happy Runner that is forcing me to look at my running from a different perspective than other running books I have read. I don’t know if it is the writing about unconditional acceptance of self (“you are enough”), all the talk about LOVE, Addie dog shout-outs or the woo parts, but I am both enjoying and thinking about things differently than I usually do from a running book.

It is one of the few books that I am actually reading (not just skim-thruing) and rushing through to say that I read it. I am taking some notes, attempting to answer questions, writing down my thoughts before I finish reading it (this post), actually thinking about the questions it poses and will probably re-read again before I do a book review.

Then again, I might never do a book review on The Happy Runner, because it will become a dresser book. One of those books that doesn’t get put out in the back of the garage and forgotten about, until my next running crisis, errr injury.

It will be interesting what I actually take from the book, when I am done?

It is about the process.

This is where I want to be.

Still running 20 years from now and BQ

Gotta do the work, no one can do it for me.


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