Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An author who's NOT a runner

I was reading Jason Jaggard's new book Spark and about half-way through I lost a little bit of respect for him.  I'm sure he's a great guy, but he shows a bit of his ignorance with some comments about running.

In a chapter called "Embracing Inspired Living," Jaggard writes:
I used to hate running more than just about anything else. My dad taught me a lot of valuable life lessons, and the one that stuck with me more than most was this: you never see a happy runner.
Think about it.  On Sunday mornings you see joggers out there chugging along the side of the road, and they don't look happy.  They look like they're in pain.  At best it looks like they're trying to do complex math problems in their heads. 
Or think about the Olympics.  The guy who wins the mile knows he'll be getting a gold medal, but he looks like somebody just came along and ripped off one of his toenails.  I don't know whether to cheer or call an ambulance.
So I don't mind telling you that I hate running.  I could easily make a list--a long list--of things I'd rather do than run.
He then goes on to talk about Dean Karnazes.  "Dean is an ultramarathon runner. (An ultramarathon is anything over seventy miles.)"

So first of all, and I know I'm being nitpicky, but where did he get the idea that an ultramarathon is 70+ miles?  "Ultra" = beyond.  "Marathon" = 26 miles, 385 yards.  Thus, an ultramarthon is a race covering a distance over 26.2 miles, typically 50K, 50 mile, 100K, 100 mile (with lots of variations).

Plus, to continue nitpicking, the mile is not an Olympic event!  I'm no Olympic historian or expert, so I can't say there has never been a one mile race at the Olympics, but I'm pretty sure the mile has never been an Olympic event.  The closest Olympic event we'll see in London will be the 1500 meter race.

I do know exactly what he's talking about.  Runners sometimes look like they're in pain.  They're sometimes doing complex math problems (calculating their splits to see if they can beat the cut off or their PR).  And he did get this right--sometimes they're losing toenails!  But none of that is exclusive of happiness.  In fact, it's all part of the happiness!  If Jaggard were a runner, he would know that.

He does come around a bit, when talking about how inspired he was by Karnazes: "After I heard about Dean, I started looking for the nearest pair of running shoes."  He doesn't really say whether he found them or went for a run, but at least the seed was planted. . . .

Run happy out there!


  1. Hi Paul! Just wanted to say thanks for reading my book and to apologize for any offense I may have caused you in re: to running. Sometimes my humor isn't...well...funny. I love runners and agree with you - most of them are happy. :) Best wishes to you and yours. Keep leaning forward!

    1. Haha! Thanks for the note, Jason! Sounds like you took my comments as I meant them, with tongue firmly in cheek. I took no offense to your comments, of course. I did think of you last night when I was watching the 1500 meter (not mile) semifinals at the Olympics! I enjoyed your book and will be posting a full review at http://readingglutton.blogspot.com/ on 8/21. You should call Dean up and go on a training run sometime. He might make an ultrarunner out of you yet!