Preview: Run Right Now

(From the Introduction) What’s in a name? Everything, say the publishers of books. The cover spurs sales – with its image, its colors, its typography and especially its title. This is why the publisher does the naming. At most the author suggests a name and uses it as a working title. During the writing of this book I thought of it as Running Long. “Long” could be taken two ways, long in distance and in years.

Barnes & Noble, the original publisher, didn’t choose my title but christened the book Run Right Now. At first I was cool to this title, mainly because it wasn’t mine. But by the time I saw the first copy, the name had grown on me. Given the chance to change it now that I’ve reclaimed the publishing rights, I still go with B&N’s choice.

Run Right Now. These three little words imply three different meanings. “Right now” can mean correctly, immediately or temporarily. The title can represent running the right way. Not that I have a corner on absolute truths, but the book represents the best ways to run that I know, based on long experience. The title also can stand for running right away. Even as an author I say, don’t spend too much time reading and planning and analyzing. I’d love to hear that a runner read one page and was moved to drop the book and go run right now. And finally the title can mean running right for now. Current practices change along with interests and abilities.

This book comes in three parts. Each covers what runners most want to know at different stages of their evolution. These parts follow the typical path – from exerciser to racer to fun-runner (or as I prefer, life-runner). Part One, titled “Running Routines,” lays out the basics that oldtimers already know but beginners need to learn. Part Two, “Running Races,” deals with going faster, farther. Part Three, “Running Rewards,” covers the years when we run (to borrow words from Robert Louis Stevenson) not to go anywhere but just to go.

I spent almost no time in the first stage, and had to go back and learn those fundamentals later. My time in stage two lasted 15 years before blending into stage three. Here I’ve stayed the longest. The runs have been right for 30-plus years now.

This book is a memoir of lessons learned in a lifetime of running and writing about it. These chapters can’t protect you from making any mistakes of your own. My hope is that you’ll make fewer than I did, that you’ll learn these lessons faster and that they’ll take you farther than I’ve gone with them.

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