I’m standing “on the side of the egg”!

2020 seems to have begun where 2019 left off; already charged with sorrow, anger and uncertainty. Leaders, systems and structures are failing us, we must therefore rely on each other…

“If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human beings, individuals, fragile eggs. We have no hope against the wall: it’s too high, too dark, too cold. To fight the wall, we must join our souls together for warmth, strength. We must not let the system control us — create who we are. It is we who created the system.”

~ Murakami, Haruki, Jerusalem Prize acceptance speech, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 15, 2009

Reading to Run; Running to Read

I just finished reading Footnotes by Vybarr Cregan-Reid. It was an excellent book… as much a travel diary and literary history as a book about running.

I normally do a bit more research before starting a book but this one came highly recommended so I jumped right in. I was unaware that the author was a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Kent. Cregan-Reid underpins and punctuates his running journey with numerous literary references and quotations. They are all apposite, detailed and creatively employed.

I can certainly recommend the book to fellow runners as I came away feeling that Cregan-Reid unearths the very essence of running and its role in our relationship to the world around us. But, I can also recommend the book to those who have an avid interest in literature and travel; particularly those with an enthusiasm for writers who extolled the virtues of nature like Blake, Coleridge, Hardy, Tolstoy and Woolf.

This was my sixth running-related book during what has been a very good reading running year:

  1. Askwith, Richard – Today We Die a Little: Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend to Cold War Hero
  2. Cregan-Reid, Vybarr – Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human
  3. Finn, Adharanand – Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
  4. Finn, Adharanand – The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World of Japanese Running
  5. McDougall, Christopher – Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, The Ultra-Runners and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
  6. Murakami, Haruki – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

They are all well written and each is uniquely different.

Today We Die a Little by Richard Askwith was the most interesting read. I knew nothing about Emil Zátopek prior to reading the book. I had never even heard of him! Askwith’s biography is rich in detail; profoundly inspirational; and deeply heartbreaking.

However, I feel that Born to Run by Christopher McDougall has had the most significant impact on my running. Not only is there a fantastic over-arching story about the Tarahumara and Micah True’s tireless efforts to organise a race in the Copper Canyons (Mexico), but weaved into the narrative is a well-researched argument for barefoot running.

McDougall uses historical facts, scientific data and a wealth of anecdotal evidence to present a compelling case for freeing one’s feet from the tyranny of running shoes. I am not fully converted. My feet remain shod when I run but I spent three months focussing intently on my running form. I now land mid to forefoot; run with a slight forward lean; and have increased my cadence significantly. The impact has been huge. I am quicker; I can run further; and I have been close to injury free ever since. No plantar fasciitis here!

Next up is… The Runner: Four Years Living and Running in the Wilderness by Markus Torgeby.