“I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” – Jesse Owens
There is a wealth of reasons why people enjoy running. Some run as a form of exercise; others to challenge and push their limits. Running can offer camaraderie or spur competitiveness, and at its best, impart a sense of great freedom. The following books feature runners, both from different backgrounds and circumstances. Although their paths to running started for diverse reasons, each found great purpose in this simple act.
Noé grew up in Yakima, Washington. By the time he was 17, he worked alongside his mother, an immigrant from Mexico, in a fruit packing plant where she had toiled for decades. Working conditions for the tired agricultural workers were tough with long hours and he grew quite resentful of the heavy toll it took on his mother and father, an orchard laborer. His parents both encouraged him to take a less arduous path for his future. To get a break from his troubles, Noé would run around his desert home, over the rivers and hills, and neighborhoods, thinking of what it meant to be the son of immigrants.
When he earned a full scholarship to Whitman College, he thought perhaps a better future was in sight. However, he had a hard time fitting in, internalizing the Latino stereotypes he heard around him. It is in college where he learns of the Peace and Dignity Journeys, a marathon created to unite and heal indigenous nations. “Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon through North America’s Stolen Land” by Noé Álvarez is a memoir of his four-month run from Canada to Guatemala, alongside Native Americans from different tribes. He describes the intense challenges of the run and the stories of his running mates, who were all confronting their own personal struggles. Noé shares how this experience helped him forge new relationships, with both the land and his heritage.
Meb Keflezighi is a name quite well known in the running world. He’s won numerous titles, won both the Boston and New York marathons and earned a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. Born in Asmara, Eritrea, he fled war-torn Ethiopia as a ten year old, eventually ending up in San Diego. In his book “26 Marathons: What I Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life” he covers these runs, ranging from 2002 to 2017, devoting a chapter to each. A recap of the races are provided in addition to valuable life lessons he took away from each one. Runners will definitely appreciate this book.
If you’re a long distance runner yourself and want some great tips, who better than Meb Keflezighi to be your personal trainer? In “Meb for Mortals: How to Run, Think, and Eat Like a Champion Marathoner,” you’ll get all the physical, mental and nutritional training you need, and just about anything else you can think of, from a world-class runner. There are great ideas here to incorporate into your own routine.