it is a short simple book with some very clear messages about the parallels between running and life itself.
Two lessons I have taken from the book are :
The chapter on the essential traits of a Runner which are
A number of home truths hit me when I read the chapter . Amby started the simple section of Balance with the line " I admit to a fondness for obsessive people"
It is hard to find balance and simply put he says if you are having fun you've probably achieved balance.
I am still striving for that balance.
Stotanism is a phrase he has borrowed from Percy Cerutty , Herb Elliots coach when he won the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics. It is about toughness but not an insensitive , superman approach . he accepts the challenges , the injuries , the disappointments without complaining.
I am still striving for that Stotanic ( if there is such a word) level of understanding.
The second and most compelling philosophy is Simplicity and Materialism
In running , runners as in life search for the quick fix solution.
" We search too much for false prophets.Some runners believe that they must move to a running mecca....Other runners believe that they need expensive heart rate monitors or perhaps , regular visits to an exercise laboratory.....these runners believe that they are most likely to find success by discovering new baubles in the physical world outside themselves. I disagree.... The answers lie within not outside.the best solutions are achieved from personal resolve , not from multiple credit cards."
On simplicity , Amby said that in a race in which he came in third he did nonspecific training and yet he ran faster in a 2 mile race by 20secs.
The race taught him a profound lesson : THE SIMPLE APPROACH IS OFTEN THE BEST.
In this busy world we live in it isn't so easy to put this into practise but like sports and running , there are many life lessons I have tried to live my life by possibly not to the level advocated here but it is worth striving to attain these simple truths.
I enjoy the sport of triathlons for the virtues I see in it .It is a relatively young and not so glamorous sport where there is a frontier mentality of athletes who share a common suffering , a great respect and humility for each other in the triathlon community .(I admit a certain bias and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people I call friends in this sport who I see in them all these qualities .)
I have enjoyed the book and since falling into triathlons , I am reminded by Amby that is is the simple pleasures in life that are the greatest. Whilst it is hard getting up in the morning and I still strive for that balance. Some of the best moments for me is as he himself states is watching the sunrise on a new day . I did not know such an emotion until I had to drag myself out of bed either to run or swim or cycle.
"Our greatest glory is not never falling , but in rising every time we fall" Confucius