When running on empty …

I went for another long run early this afternoon, in preparation for my marathon next month. It was a 30-degree celsius day but felt like at least 35, as the cloudless sky gave no respite from the fierce sun.

At around the 23km mark, I really began to suffer from the heat. It didn’t help that my mind

Run, Jogging Dad, run
Run, Jogging Dad, run

started to be unkind, niggling me with remarks such as: “You’re tired already? After only 20-odd km’s? Do you realise that you’re barely half-way through the distance that you will be running next month“?

So I decided to give this mind of mine something to think about, something to dwell on instead of needling me on the preposterousness of running in this heat. I challenged it to come up with the most inspiring books and films on running that it has come across.

After rebuking me with: “You want me to think about books and films on running, when you can barely see straight right now, let alone run? Are you positively out of your fucking mind?“, my mind finally went into thought and came up with the following list:

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – This is the kind of book that shames you for bitching and moaning about the pain of preparing for a little marathon, an endeveaour that pales in comparison to the amazing feats of endurance by the characters in its pages. It does this, not by intimdating you into thinking you are out these people’s league, but by enticing you into believing that perhaps even you can somehow replicate what the runners mentioned in the book have done. This is also the book that introduced me to Jenn Shelton, the crazy American ultrarunning girl who left such a deep impression in my mind.

Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks – Whether you are a runner or not, if the scenes of Tom Hank’s character running against some of the beautiful backdrops in the US does not insipre you to get off the couch, then either your ass is surgically attached to it or your emotions are sitting on it right next to your ass. What really resonated with me was the reason that he began to run in the first place – it was a simple act that he couldn’t quite explain why he was doing but found immense solace in doing.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami -This Japanese writer has over time become one of my very favourite and the book that planted the seeds of admiration was this one. And just like the two above (and indeed most notable literary work dealing with running as a subject matter), Murakami persuasively shows that running, at its core, is not about fitness or health, but is about something much more personal and emotional.

Chariots of Fire – This film deal with religion and race, complex subject matters that are just beyond the limits of my mind. However, that hasn’t stop the goosebumps every time I watch the running scenes in this classic, aided further by an equally classic soundtrack.

Once a Runner by John L Parker – This book about a young distance runner’s dream of competitive glory has something of a cult following. And if you are passionate about running in general, you will see why after reading it. The part where the main character single-mindedly pursues a gruelling and isolated training regime to realise his dream is so graphic that it makes preparing for a marathon look like a walk in the park.

After my mind and I finished reminiscing on these inspirational works, we realised that we had travelled another 5 km and were less than 1 km away from home. For some reason, my mind was suddenly calm and the discomfort of the heat was long forgotten. Indeed, I even had the energy the quasi-sprint the remaining distance.

While I may never have the endurance of Caballo Blanco or the determination of Quenton Cassidy, it was still good fun pretendng that I did. And with a 42.2km test coming up, I will take all the inspiration I can find.

Keep on pounding.


6 thoughts on “When running on empty …

  1. Papa Angst

    Great list. Good to see you’re a Murakami fan, too. I still haven’t read the Parker book, shame on me. You might also like Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run, in which I found plenty of great ideas for sharpening that mental edge. Best wishes.

      1. Papa Angst

        Jurek, and yes. I was lucky to share part of a training run with him once. Very humble, easy-going guy on the outside. As we know from Born to Run, hard as nails on the inside. Check it out, it’s a good read.

  2. smile breathe and go slowly

    i can’t even conceive of running a marathon yet :O good on ya! Another inspiring movie you may want to watch is Running the Sahara…the fella in it, Ray Zahab is a local ultra runner i’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times.

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Seriously Madame, when I see things like that, I just laugh at myself for the puny aches I get from running just few km’s. Thanks, I shall watch the whole documentary soon. By the way, you put a “mate” at the end of your “good on ya” expression, and you will be a true dinky-di Aussie Sheila in no time 🙂 !


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