Friday, June 6, 2008

Flashback Friday: Remember Me?

Remember when I used to post regularly? Ah, the good old days. I'm sure you've all been franticly worried about my absence. Sorry about that. I was busy.

I had to ... erm ... even things out.

It took me a few days to get a braille keyboard. But the good news is my forearms are feeling strong.

As a reward for waiting so unbearably long for my next enthralling post, I have a present for you, my dear, ever-supportive readers. Behold! This current enthralling post in which I finally review The Complete Book of Running (1977) by James F. Fixx.

I bought the book in March at a used book store and since have been slowly making my way through it. Instead of reading about running I was actually running, which should make this guy happy.

As is written in the first reader review at the above link (and I've heard this said elsewhere), The Complete Book of Running is considered the bible of running. In so much that it contains shoddy explanations for things that science has since proven otherwise, I can't agree more. However, it does provide the basics for new runners and a sort of moral compass by which to run. And like the Holy Bible, Fixx's book is full of quotables.
"What about alcohol? Many serious runners enjoy an occasional beer. Few of them are heavy drinkers, though one runner, a man of considerable distinction, is said to drink nine or 10 bottles of beer every day, and one of our nation's top marathoners drinks a case or more a week. ... As for me, after a long, hot run I find that there is nothing like the taste of a cold beer."
Amen! Sadly, he doesn't name names of these particularly thirsty runners, but the Viper approves of their methods. Fixx then goes on to cite some of that scientific evidence as for why beer is good. Something about dehydration from running causing kidney stones and the water we drink quenching our thirst but not being enough for our kidneys. "Beer doesn't do that," he writes, "since, as every beer drinker knows, it goes more directly to the kidneys." Hallelujah!

And one that really hit home as I prepare for the Summer Solstice Challenge, quoting a certain Richard Innamorato who had a challenge of his own -- to run from Fort Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
"Anyone who would attempt such a stunt, [Innamorato] declared with unassailable logic, 'has to enjoy it or is an eccentric moron.'"
See? I'm not that loony. Yet.

Many books try to explain why we like running, usually spouting some business about adrenaline and dopamine and pheromones and making us feel childish glee and yak, yak, yak. Here's Fixx:
"Most people who have considered the matter, I believe, posed the wrong question. They have asked us why running produces such extraordinary effects. Putting the question that way elicits a certain kind of answer, and I think it's the wrong one. My suspicion is that the effects of running are not extraordinary at all, but quite ordinary. It is the other states, all other feelings, that are peculiar, for they are an abnegation of the way you and I are supposed to feel."
And then it's yadda, yadda, yadda running brings out the primal instincts and emotions of mankind.

There are other amusing anecdotes that can only be the result of generational differences. Martini lunches, heavy smoking and running, surprise that women are also very good runners and things of that nature are peppered throughout. I'd share more quotes, but this post is already too long.

The Complete Book of Running is a quick and fairly entertaining read, but I'm not sure I'd call it the bible. Fixx did write a second book on running, cleverly titled Second Book of Running, which I suppose makes it equivalent to the New Testament. Perhaps that book updates and revises some of the shaky science and running methodology of the first book. But I wonder, Who plays Jesus?


Nitmos said...

Well, if there is a split in thought between the first and second book...I'll hold out for the definitive 3rd book to break the tie. Thanks for saving me some reading.

B. Kramer said...

Would that third book be the one where Fixx comes back from the dead to save all us runners?

C said...

So, would that hypothetical third book be called the 'Dead Runners Scrolls'?

Congrats on becoming ambidextrous. Um...yeah, or something like that.

Unknown said...

I recalled reading the book when I was in high school during my cross country years. I need to find that book. It must be somewhere in the attic.

Other than that, I am tagging you so be sure to check my blog for the amusing post.