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‘Ruin your knees for charity’

My friend Jim Jung always has pearls of wisdom to share. His wisdom is beyond his years. So it’s fitting that he found and gave to me one of my favorite books, “1,001 Pearls of Runners’ Wisdom: Advice and Inspiration for the Open Road,” edited and introduced by Bill Katovsky and published in 2012.

Jung came across this gem at a library book sale and snatched it up, knowing that a running fool like myself would love it. I do. It sits near my desk at work. This book, by the way, has my hero Steve Prefontaine on the cover.

I must add, before going on about the book, that Jim was a fine runner and Ironman in his days. He and I have swapped running stories, which we find mesmerizing. This guy was in incredible shape and posted some outstanding race times. But my best marathon time was faster than his!

Back to pearls of wisdom about running. It’s packed full of good advice and divides it under different headings, including “Why I don’t run,” “There’s No Business like Shoe Business,” “Hey Coach” and “The Naked Ape.”

Running is one of those sports that, to get started, you need motivation. Once you’re started, you need inspiration. And to keep going, you need encouragement.

This book provides that.

Here are a few of the best bits of wisdom in it.

• “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” —Juma Ikanga of Tanzania.

• “Once upon a time, about twenty years ago to be precise, runners believed they didn’t have to do anything but run.” — Amy Burfoot, “The Principles of Running.”

• “My favorite diet was a glass of beer with some bread and cheese.” — Walter George, late 19th century British running star.

• “Sometimes you’ve got to go through hell to get to heaven.” – Dean Karnazes

• “They say you can’t run away from your troubles. I say that you can.” — John Bingham

• “I was unable to walk for a whole week after that, so much did the race take out of me. But it was the most pleasant exhaustion I have ever known.” — Emil Zatopek, on his Olympic Marathon win in Helsinki in 1952

And finally, all you non-runners will appreciate this one:

w “I am sick of joggers and I am sick of runners. I don’t care if all the people in the U.S. are running or planning to run or wishing they could run. All I ask is, don’t write articles about running and ask me to read them.” — Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated writer, in 1978.

After nearly four decades of running if you go back to my high school track days of running a mile as fast as I could (4:46 for those who care) and logging thousands of miles, one would think I could offer my own pearls of running wisdom.

I have two pieces of advice: “Run. You’ll meet people you never would have otherwise met. You’ll see things you never would have otherwise seen. You’ll visit places you would have otherwise never visited. You’ll discover things about yourself you would have otherwise never discovered. You’ll open doors that would otherwise remain closed.”

And there is also this one, though it’s not really advice, more of a statement: “When I finish a race, no matter what my place and time, my wife greets me like I just won the Olympics. That is a good reason to run.”

Jung, by the way, had this to say about running: “It’s an addiction and, like other addictions, there can be positives and negatives. You get a great high from running and you feel good. But it can be selfish. There are times you’re out running you should be home helping your spouse.”

Jung is right. There are days that, yes, we should run less. But fortunately, there are not many of them.

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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