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Running is not just a sport. It reconnects us to our bodies and the places in which we live, breaking down our increasingly structured and demanding lives. It allows us to feel the world beneath our feet, lifts the spirit, allows our minds out to play and helps us to slip away from the demands of the modern world.
When Vybarr Cregan-Reid set out to discover why running meant so much to so many, he began a journey which would take him out to tread London’s cobbled streets, climbing to sites that have seen a millennium of hangings, and down the crumbling alleyways of Ruskin's Venice. Footnotes transports you to the cliff tops of Hardy's Dorset, the deserted shorelines of Seattle, the giant redwood forests of California, and to the world’s most advanced running laboratories and research centres, using debates in literature, philosophy and biology to explore that simple human desire to run.
Liberating and inspiring, this book reminds us why feeling the earth beneath our feet is a necessary and healing part of our lives.
In this offbeat but entertaining take on the fitness memoir, Cregan-Reid (Discovering Gilgamesh) shares his discovery of and love of running, occasionally adding intimate details from his personal life and frequently from his runs. It's a mashup that's equal parts philosophy, neuroscience, history, and love note to the author's exercise of choice. Cregan-Reid takes readers on a running tour, stopping off at Boston's Spaulding National Running Center to see an Ironman Triathlete's running injuries being diagnosed, sharing a memorable run through the South Harrow countryside, and finishing the London Marathon "almost by accident." A self-described "challenged school student," Cregan-Reid eventually went through a metamorphosis (largely unexplained here) that took him to graduate school; he discovered running while working on his doctoral thesis. Today the author is a professor and literary scholar. That explains why, in addition to finding information here about running retraining or selecting the right shoe, readers will also find liberal literary references to such writers as Austen, Chekhov, Coleridge, and Tolstoy. The book's greatest strength, however, is in its explanation of running's benefits (running makes "you smarter," more attentive, and even makes you feel "more attractive," according to the author) and in the author's mystical, Anglicism-sprinkled descriptions of running.