Once A Runner: A Novel

18 02 2011

“Once A Runner” by John L. Parker, Jr.

The author has written for Outside, Runner’s World, and numerous other publications. He was the Southeastern Conference Mile Champion three times, and the United States Track and Field Federation National Champion in the Steeplechase, and was teammate of Olympians Frank Shorter, Jack Bacheler, and Jeff Galloway on several championship cross-country teams. He is a journalist, practicing lawyer, and had been the Editorial Director of Running Times Magazine. (Note: The author should be as old as Jeff Galloway!)

This book was first published in 1978, at least one year after the “Complete Book On Running” by Jim Fixx was published, and it was written as a novel about a mile-runner, Quenton Cassidy while he was studying to earn a College Degree with a time setting in the mid-70s. It was mentioned that the author had sold copies of this book on the back compartment of his car every time he attended road races during weekends and copies of this novel had been circulating from one runner’s hand to another.

Looking at the profile and background of the author, this novel could be easily analyzed as the author’s personal account of his life as a college student and a passionate runner who would like to cross the barrier of sub-4-minute mile during those times.

Elite runners, ultra trail runners, and runner-authors/writers have considered this book as the best book ever written about running. I’ve read this book’s title being mentioned by most of the runner-authors who considered this novel as the best story being written about a runner. They say it’s a “classic”. Others would say that you are not a full-blooded runner if you don’t have a copy or have read this book. It is also being mentioned as part of the Runner’s Etiquette/Rules for a runner to have read this book if he is really a true runner. It is for this reason why I had to buy this book when I had a chance to see one at the Zombie Runner Store in Stanford, California.

I was not frustrated when I found out that the book speaks for itself. It is really the best book for a runner and every runner should be able to read it.

I’ve repeatedly read this novel for three times already. This is always my companion whenever I travel from Manila to other parts of the country when I board the local flights.

Cover Page of Older Publication of the Book (Photo From Wikipedia)


“Classic” Running Books

3 09 2010

 Aside from being “classic” and being sought after, the following books are considered as the best books in running that greatly influenced people from their sedentary life to being active through running. These books contributed in the resurgence of “running boom” in the United States and in other countries.

Few minutes before the start of the 2nd PAU “P2P” 70K Run last Sunday, Paolo Osmena, a PAU member and BDM 102 veteran, gave me these three (3) “classic” running books which I consider as “collectors’ items” for seasoned runners. I was surprised and humbled by the generous gesture of Paolo of giving me these “treasures” among runners. Thank you very much, Paolo!

1st Book That Started The Popularity of Running

 The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx was published in 1977 and it became as the best selling book for that year. I tried to look for this book in the 70s and 80s in the local bookstores but it was not available. While I was on schooling in Fort Benning, Georgia in the mid-80s and during my stay in Los Angeles after my schooling, I was not able to buy or look for this particular book, to include the other two books. There was no at that time yet. So, when Paolo gave  me this book, it was my first time to actually hold and browse the pages of such book.

The red color of the cover, the running legs of the author, the red running shorts, and the red ASICS racing shoes were properly conceived as a “marketing” ploy for the book and it was a success. Nowadays, you seldom see red running shorts, red ASICS racing shoes, and running without socks!

2nd Running Book By James Fixx

The Second Book of Running by the same author was published in 1980 but it did not create the same magnitude of popularity of the first book. It would be noted that the color of the cover page was in blue—blue running shorts, blue Adidas running shoes, running without socks, and the same running legs of the author. Four years after this book was published, the author died due to heart attack after completing his daily running workout. He was 52 years old. 

One of the Books Written By George Sheehan

 Dr George Sheehan is considered as the modern day “philosopher of running”. He was a cardiologist in profession but became popular due to his writings about running with an essay he wrote every week in local newspapers and later with the Runner’s World Magazine. He died at the age of 75 due to prostate cancer. This particular book was the second to the last book that was published before he died in 1993. This book is a compilation of the essays he wrote and published in his column/page with the Runner’s World Magazine.

On a personal note, Paolo is sending me a “message” by giving these most treasured books about running. He is telling me to write and publish also a book about my entries in this blog which had been my plan for the past years. It is a dream to write a book as a compilation of all the entries of this blog and it is a matter of organizing them from one general topic to another. I know that this dream will become a reality.

Thanks, Paolo!

 (Note: Photos of the books were taken from

Book: “Run Faster” By Brad Hudson

22 10 2008

The complete title of this book is “Run Faster: From 5K To The Marathon”. This is the latest book published for this year regarding running and portion/part of this book was featured in the Running Times Magazine for October 2008 issue. The author advocates “adaptive running” as his training philosophy and aside from developing runners to run faster, the author teaches and guides the reader to be his/her own coach.

“Adaptive Running” simply means that there is no single training formula that works perfectly for every runner. Every runner must be able to stimulate the precise set of physical adaptations (aerobic/anaerobic) that are needed to achieve maximum performance in a peak race. Training programs must be adapted to the individual strengths, weaknesses, needs, and goals of each runner. Individual training programs must be adapted daily, based on the runner’s response to recent training. The runner must adapt his/her training from year to year in response to the effects of the most recently completed cycle to stimulate further positive adaptations. Moreover, the author listed his recommended Adaptive Training Plans for 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon distances according to your level of fitness at the last chapter of the book to include training plans for the Youths and Masters runners.

As I reach my one-year running comeback this weekend, I find the author’s questions to assess one’s running experience for the past year very beneficial to me as I try to improve my performance in the 10K, Half-Marathon, and Marathon distances.

If you want to improve your running performance and want to be your own coach, I highly recommend this book for every runner.

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