Once a Runner
Once a Runner captures the essence of what it means to be a competitive runner; to devote your entire existence to a single-minded pursuit of excellence. It has become one of the most beloved sports novels ever written. Originally self-published in 1978 and sold at road races out of the trunk of the author’s car, reading the book became a rite of passage for many runners,...more
The beginning nearly killed me with the author’s seemingly needful sense to try to impress us with his constant use of obscure words. It nearly handicapped the book as each sentence read as though he used a book of synonyms to replace simpler everyday language to build up his writing? I very nearly gave up and just walked away.
However, if you can plow through his obscure writing structure (and thoug...more
But this is not just a runner's book. in fact it is now one of my all time favorite books period.
Set in an university during the 70's the book is about a nonconformist runner who loves to think for himself and loves to run. A sample early passage:
...the runners kept up...more
Running to h...more
It is not often that the emotions of the distance runner are described. These emotions remain hidden, out of sight for the average person. To dedicate themselves to something so hard, so burdening, would be a waste of their time. Few understand the unique breed that is the distance runner. I, a cross-country man myself, didn’t understand for nearly sixteen years. I once thought of running as a waste of time. I thought of it as cruel. I thought of it as unrewarding and unprod...more
I'm not a runner and never have been a runner, but I couldn't put the book down. I love to be immersed in a world about which I know nothing, and this book was a revelation. Reading it was probably the closest I'll ever get to knowing what it must be like to be an athlete in top condition. To have demons that "make you want to run through the jungle . . . cover countryside at a clip, slide by in the night like a scuttling cloud . . ....more
Apparently this book has been a cult classic for years...more
"The night joggers were out as usual.
"The young man could see dim figures on the track even in this pale light, slowly pounding round and round the most infinite of footpaths. There would be, he knew, plump, determined-looking women slogging along while fleshy knees quivered. They would oc...more
The author is clearly more a passionate runner th...more
Aptly named Quenton Cassidy is a promising collegiate runner who aspires to run the mile in under 4:00 minutes. The intensity of his training naturally has side effects on other areas of his life, causing rifts in his love life and a earning him a reputation as the ringleader of dangerously absurd escapades.
Having run cross country and track throughout my high school years, I can't deny the uncanny w...more
I am not a runner, but have been an athlete and can tell you the experience Parker relates transcends any particular sport, so you may resonate with this, whether a runner or not. I remember that feeling~! It was right after college, when Ron Wilkes proposed we work together on a pair. I felt very strong, agonized anticipating the work that would be required, fin...more
This isn't a book I'd recommend to a non-runner. In fact, it's not a book I'd recommend to every runner, either. If you know at some level what it's like to strive for an unapproachable, amazing physical goal, then I hope you can enjoy it for the description of that struggle. If you have to have great writing, or feel like the storyline has to be scintillating or the characters...more
The former Dallas Baptist University cross country runner who loaned it to me said it was a "cult running book". I was eager to see what type of book runners would form a hidden fan base around.
Unfortunately, and quite predictably, the running enthusiast's choice of fiction is a book that enthuses about running. A book that describes running accurately and compares most everything in life to running, and features characters who run o...more
Now as someone who isn't or wasn't ever competitive it was hard to understand. They don't always explain the details of something so you shake your head and just...more
Reading this book reminded me of stepping into my grandparents house and going to their limited bookshelf and finding the one book that was not written by some 1960s 1970s christian minister. The style of writing in this novel is very dated and it is amazing to see how literature and fiction can be identified with certai...more
I was a half-miler in the 1:58 range and my mile time didn't even reach the 4:30 time that, according to the runners in this book, "everyone" ran in high school. So I am not privy to the feelings of the really excellent runners such as the author, John Parker. Thus, to be fair, I have to give great weight to his description of how a well-trained competitive runner feels during workouts and...more
I have been active most of my life...all kinds of sports, but mostly basketball and soccer, but about two years I started to run for exercise. I ran first on a treadmill and then on the...more
Favorite parts: The descripti...more
a passage from the book that I enjoyed:
"The herd reached the fence, turned sharply to the right, and proceeded parallel to the runners at the same pace, looking straight ahead and running at a slow gallop with what appeared to be considerable pleasure. When they reached the corner of their pasture, they tu...more
Many truths reside within the pages which describe what it means to be a runner.
"Cassidy knew what the mystic-runners, the joggers, the runner-poets, the Zen runners, and others of their ilk were talking about. But he also knew that their euphoric selves were generally nowhere to...more
I suppose running is a key part of the story, but everything else is horrible.
The arrogant lead (Cassidy) is frustrating. The basic premise is interesting-- the personal goal to be your best. But, the writing is very hamfisted, the key plot is basically a joke (view spoiler)[and not even developed! The character is banned from racing over some petition. But the football team's side of things is barely explored, and is mostly filled with...more
But, WOW, the last third to last quarter of the book was amazing! I felt like I was actually inside the character's head, and felt every spike of adrenaline, every drop in the pit of my stomach. I will never ever be an elite athlete, unfortu...more
This book really hammers home the point that running is simple, the more you run the better you get. Its easy to measure, there are no tricks, no...more