Quotes from Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Below are a few nuggets of gold I mined out of these pages. Among others, these quotes stood out to me. I highly recommend this piece of literature to any fellow runner…geek…scientist…historian…human…


“I never really discussed this with anyone because it sounds pretentious but I started ultra-running to become a better person. I thought if you could run 100 miles you’d be in this zen state…you’d be the fucking Buddha…bringing peace and a smile to the world. It didn’t work in my case. I’m the same old punk-ass as before. But there’s always that hope that it will turn you into the person you want to be: a better, more peaceful person. When I’m out on a long run the only thing that matters is finishing the run. For once my brain isn’t going ‘blah blah blah’ all the time. Everything quiets down and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s just me and the movement and the motion. That’s what I love. Just being a barbarian, running through the woods.” -Jenn Shelton

“Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude…THEY were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.” -Herb Elliot (Olympic Champion and World Record-Holder in the Mile, who trained barefoot, wrote poetry, and retired undefeated)

Fifty-five miles in one day. Her friends had to wonder, and worry. Did Ann have an eating disorder? An exercise obsession? Was she fleeing some subconscious Freudian demon by literally running away? “My friends would tell me I’m not addicted to crack, I’m addicted to endorphins,” Trason would say, and her comeback didn’t much put their minds at ease: she liked to tell them that running huge miles in the mountains was “very romantic.” Gotcha. Grueling, grimy, muddy, bloody, lonely trail-running equals moonlight and champagne. But yeah, Ann insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it because they’d never broken through. For them, running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans: get on the scale, get depressed, get your headphones on, and get it over with. But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it. Relax enough, and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s when the moonlight and champagne show up: “You have to be in tune with your body, and know when you can push it and when to back off,” Ann would explain. You have to listen closely to the sound of your own breathing; be aware of how much sweat is beading on your back; make sure to treat yourself to cool water and a salty snack and ask yourself, honestly and often, exactly how you feel. What could be more sensual than paying exquisite attention to your own body? Sensual counted as romantic, right?

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