A must read for every runner
Running is often a journey to find one’s true self. Originally published in 1978 (and some of the references in the book are dated), Once A Runner is a book that anybody who loves running can relate to. In my life as a father and in my role as a high school cross country coach, there is only one real lesson I want my daughters or my athletes to learn from me: hard work, grit, and tenacity.Running is a metaphor for life, and Once A Runner takes us on one runner’s life journey, which happens to also be his running journey.
If a person wants to become a better runner, then that person should run more. That is why running is so beautiful. It doesn’t lie to you. This lesson, however, can be extended to anything. If you want to be better at math, work out more math problems. If you want to be a concert level pianist, you better start practicing. You don’t get better at something by hoping for it, you get better at something by doing it.
I do my best to model this lesson to those around me. I never ask my cross country kids to do a workout that I’m not willing to do myself (although age has made it so that I cannot move as quickly as them). I work out every homework problem I assign my students before I give it to them. I try to show my daughters that hard work gets the results they need. Sometimes this can be a tough lesson.
Once A Runner models this lesson in so many ways. “What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.” – John L. Parker, Once A Runner.That’s a life lesson for you right there, folks.
There isn’t a magic pill you can buy to fix your problems! There isn’t a different set of clothes you can wear that will make everything better. It’s about the trial of miles, and miles of trials. Hard work, grit, and tenacity will help get you there.Admittedly, I am not there yet. I keep trying, every day. I make so many mistakes it’s embarrassing. I’m often surprised I still have friends or people who put up with me. My life is full or trials. There are miles and miles of trials. Some days I think it would be easier if I just put myself in the corner and cried. Some nights I spend so much time thinking about it that I can’t fall asleep, or I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my trials. But if there is one thing running has taught me, it’s that I can’t hide from the miles of trials.
I have to face them, one step at a time.If you feel the same way I do, then I strongly recommend you pick up Once A Runner and give it a read. You might find some life lessons in there for you.”You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many day, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.” -John L. Parker, Once A Runner.For me, like for The Runner in Once A Runner, the journey is lasting years. Even a lifetime. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to where I want to be. I don’t know if there will be more friends gained or lost along the way, but I do know that the only way to go on this journey is forward. The Trial of Miles, and Miles of Trials.