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Page 1

The Complete Book of Running?

by Jason Roth

On a plane back from Toronto, I saw a guy reading a book called The Complete Book of Running. I noticed it had an official endorsement by Runner's World magazine. Later, I looked the book up on Amazon, and saw that it had 36 pages on "the mental side of running".

I think I'd rather read a book called The Complete Book of What the Fuck Has Your Life Come to When You're Reading About Running? If you're reading 36 pages on the mental side of running, you should stick with running and lay off the books. Then again, you might be capable of reading a book on running, but you sure as hell won't need to worry about the preferred method of taking a shit on mile 18 of the New York Marathon. You're sufficiently second-handed that you're willing to delegate the act of thinking even in the world's most basic physical activity.

A little while ago, I told my mom that I was thinking about camping. She found and gave me an old copy (circa. 1985) copy of something like The Backpacker's Guide to Camping. They didn't have the Web back then, so I can sort of imagine the justification for this book. But when I opened it and saw a section with a name like "Remember to pack a sleeping bag," I figured that the book was just as I thought: something for procrastinators and other various losers to waste their time with as they pretend to themselves that planning to do something is the equivalent of doing something.

So back to this runner who likes to read about running. On the positive side, maybe this guy has become such an amazing runner that he is now compelled to harness the greatest minds in the history of running in order to get his two feet to advance a step at a time that much faster, or more accurately, or however the fuck else a "serious" runner measures the quality of an activity that a four-year-old has just about perfected.

And just as I thought I could remain positive, something occurred to me. He wasn't reading a book by Carl Lewis. He was reading a book by Runner's World magazine. I've never read the magazine, but I have, about eight or nine years ago, picked up the writer's equivalent: Writer's Digest. I discovered that this is a magazine written by con artists for every no-talent hack on the planet. Just skim the ads for automated writing software and you'll see what I mean. Articles include "Ten Great Plots" and "How to Whack Off and Convince Yourself You're Doing Creative Exercises". If the editors really wanted to get people to write, they'd entitle the magazine How About Getting Your Wishing-for-a-Miracle-Drug Lazy Ass Back to Your Computer and Start Typing, You Dumb Bastard.

Oh, yeah. And as for running, here's a chapter summary of the mental side of running: keep running, asshole.

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