Excerpts from “The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life”


I finished this easy read on the plane last weekend. A light read that captures exactly the reasons why I love running- the freedom, release, exploration, and peace.  Here are my favorite parts of the book to share with you, which I’ve shared in some yoga classes the last few weeks :

  • “Why run? And that is: I run because I am an animal. I run because it is part of my genetic wiring. I run because millions of years of evolution have left me programmed to run. And, finally, I run because there’s no better way to see the sun rise and set. What the years have shown me is that running clarifies the thinking process as well as purifies the body. I think best- most broadly and most fully- when I am running.”
  • Doesn’t take skill. Blood rushes to the brain increasing creativity and “the brain spins out the most fantastical thoughts.”
  • “Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or other new beginnings. Starting lines are one of the most important stations in life. We need to do more than just avoid them. We need to actively seek them out. Otherwise, we grow stagnant. We will disappear into black holes. Remember that if you don’t go to the starting line, you will never view the whole course with all its possibilities.”
  • “Running removes us briefly from the fragmentation and depersonalizations of the digital world. It gets us away from everything else…alone at last, we resort to our oldest technologies- listening and talking. Running seems to break down barriers. When we run, we are already so exposed, often nearly naked in our shirts and t-shirts, huffing and puffing, purified by the effort. Briefly removed from the defenses and secrets we maintain in so much of our lives, we feel less need to hide our private thoughts, loves, fears, and stresses. We share. And our sharing begets more sharing in return. Let human connection provide you with the electricity you need to be happy.”
  • “Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.”
  • About ignoring time when running: “I let the 60 seconds fill me. It’s a much more energizing way to live.”
  • “Sometimes my main reason for running is to simply see where my brain will go while my body is meandering through the local trails or roadways. It can never be predicted, and it’s always a surprise.”
  • “I can’t imagine someone not listening to the world around them- the birds, the rainfall, their friends, the crunch of running shoes on new-fallen snow. Or simply their own thoughts. The ability to listen, in all its forms, seems to me one of our most-human gifts. We cannot learn without listening; we cannot empathize without listening; we cannot make big decisions without listening to both heart and mind. Whether a decision is purely personal or involves dozens or even hundreds of others, you alone are the person who has to make it, and you can only do it after listening to your own internal monologue.”
  • “Running, of course, teaches us to move on. There is always another day, another workout, another mile, another race. But more important, it teaches us to listen to ourselves and believe in ourselves.”
  • “Shoes can’t make you faster. Only dedication, consistency, passion, and hard training can make you faster…Success comes from within. It comes from consistent dedication to core principles and values…The answers lie within, not outside. The best solutions are achieved from personal resolve.”
  • “Any struggle is a thousand times easier when you have a partner.”
  • “And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.” -George Sheehan
  • “Our greatest glory is not never falling, but in rising every time we fall” -Confucius
  • “The true runner is a very fortunate person. He has found something in him that is just perfect.” -George Sheehan
  • “In running it is man against himself, the cruelest of opponents. The other runners are not the real enemies. His adversary lies within him, in his ability with brain and heart to master himself and his emotions.” -Glenn Cunningham
  • “Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us find out what we are made of.” -Pattisue Plumer
  • “If people were possessed by reason, running marathons would not work. But we are not creatures of reason. We are creatures of passion.” -Noel Carroll
  • Running opens “veins of creative and reflective thought.”
  • “While running at first appears to depend on great physical strength and endurance, it is in fact, based almost entirely on strength of mind. Those who have the will will succeed.”
  • “It’s distance, not speed, that holds the answers.” -John Bingham
  • “Regeneration is hard work, like everything else. It doesn’t just happen. You have to believe it first. Then you must enact it.”

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