Reading My Way to an Ultramarathon
Warmer weather is finally here to stay (Ed's note: Some of us are still skeptical. Don't jinx it, Mari!).
This weekend while running at Lake Zorinsky, I ran by several friendly faces—let me tell you, the runners are back! The runners at the lake are strangers to me, but we have one thing in common and that’s our love for running. We nod at each other as if to say, "it’s nice to see you again," or maybe, "I’m so happy to be running outside today."
With the invention of the iPod and mp3 players, you will see most runners wearing headphones. A betting man would say most of us are listening to music, the tempo keeps us running at a desired pace. I am training for a 50 mile run later this year, so you might not be surprised to learn that I have given up running to music.
Running Time Has Become Reading Time
Have you tried listening to audio books? The library has a large selection to choose from. Add Audible and iTunes into the mix, and there is a lifetime of listening available for each and every one of us.
I had listened to no more than five novels ‘on tape’ until discovering audio books last summer. Once I made the decision to run an ultra-marathon, my free time simply disappeared. Just this weekend, I was running around the lake, bundled up in winter gear, with my iPod playing The Gift of an Ordinary Day. A book will keep me company for several days of running (depending on the length).
I usually have about 5 books waiting for me to listen to at any given time. This allows me the freedom to pick a book based on what I feel like listening to that day (don’t fret…I do not jump from novel to novel). I get a sense of enjoyment in knowing I can ‘read’ a book in a few days time, and it’s important to me that I find time to read while accomplishing a life goal (the ultra-marathon).
Some of my favorite books read last year were audio books: I loved Her Fearful Symmetry and Brooklyn: a novel. There is a point on the trail, at Lake Zurinsky, where the direction changes from heading westbound to southbound that always reminds me of a moment in Somebody Else’s Daughter. I was listening to this book for book club last fall and in the first part of the story the mother dies just as she is about to give her baby up for adoption. When I run by this corner, I always think about this part of the book. Wonderful writing makes listening to a story so much more enjoyable, but the voice of the person reading the book is also important.
Another great book to listen to is Julie and Julia. Have you read it? If you have, try to imagine a vegetarian runner listening to the chapter on bone marrow! This moment will stay with me forever. I was running under the bridge crossing from the big lake to the small lake as Julie was trying to get the gooey substance to rise in the pot (yuck). This is one of the first books I listened to last summer; it was told with so much energy that I have been hooked on audio books ever since that warm summer morning last year.
The last audio experience I will share is also from last summer. While hiking the Flat Irons in Boulder, I listened to The Last Lecture (by Randy Pausch). This book is so inspiring that I could have climbed Mount Everest that day!
I have also listened to The Help and Olive Kitteridge. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book I listened to at this point. If you haven’t tried Audible, they have some pretty generous deals for first time visitors. Signing up for a trial membership will get you two book downloads and two weeks worth of access to magazines and radio shows (just remember to cancel within 14 days or the "free" downloads will become anything but).
I know I have been going on and on about our public library recently, but I am challenging myself to use the library as much as possible this year. They have over 50 new audio book selections to choose from, and that's only what's new for this year. I am taking advantage of this, listening to memoirs, biographies, novels, and more. Next on my list is The Swan Thieves, which I picked up from the Omaha Public Library just yesterday.
Do you listen to audio books? Do you have suggestions for me to listen to as I train this summer? At the peak of my training I will easy listen to two books a week.