Unruly Runner

No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running by John Bingham

Reader becomes runner.

How’s such a thing even happen?

Well, I’ll tell ya.

Back in college and grad school, I ran 2 to 3 miles and didn’t think much of it. Then I basically became a slacker and did the walking thing for years. (Fast. I walk fast. But still: walking.)

Then one day (not the good kind of day), out of nowhere: running. I was out on a walk, and I just burst out into a run. And I started running little short distances, but I was running, guys.

And then a friend recommended this book. And since I’m readerly (way more readerly than runnerly—at least in normal times), I checked out the book from the library and started in.

I expected a training plan, but this book is more than that. In fact, this book isn’t really a training plan at all; it’s an inspiration instead, and that’s actually more important.

I mean, listen to this:

“Understanding that I could find joy in the activity itself, rather than in my level of proficiency, liberated me. Imagine the number of physical activities you might engage in if you didn’t care how good you were. Imagine the other goals you might pursue if you didn’t have to wait until you were ‘good at it’ to begin to enjoy the pursuit.” (p. 155)

I say Yes to that.

The main thing that surprised me (in a positive way) about the book is that much of it is the story of the author’s own rather unexpected road to running, which started in his early 40s when he was an overweight smoker.

So already, if you aren’t overweight and/or a smoker, you’re thinking: If he can do this, I can do this…  (And if you are overweight and/or a smoker, you’re also thinking: If he can do this, I can do this…)

This book: It is a friendly book. It is encouraging and kind, and if you’re in the mood for it, it will help your life become a better thing.

So it wasn’t long before I was back to my 3-mile mark, and then—out of nowhere—I was at 5 miles—then 7 and gaining speed—and dang, I was feeling good.

I’m still feeling good.