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Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr.

Once a Runner (original 1978; edition 2009)

by John L. Parker Jr., Patrick Lawlor (Reader)

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4531523,009 (4.1)17
Title:Once a Runner
Authors:John L. Parker Jr.
Other authors:Patrick Lawlor (Reader)
Info:Brilliance Audio on MP3-CD (2009), Edition: MP3 Una, MP3 CD
Collections:Your library
Tags:library, running, mile, race, 3:52.5, university, training

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Once a Runner by John L. Parker (1978)

  1. 00
    The Rider by Tim Krabbé (nickl)
    nickl: If you like running, and also like cycling. "The Rider" and "Once a Runner" are the two best fictional sports books I've ever read.

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This took me awhile to get through. Maybe because I'm not really a runner myself, the apparently inherent tension between the pain of training and the joy of running (or winning?) wasn't really exciting enough in and of itself to draw me in. The first half of the book seemed to me mostly a combination of discussions of the physical and technical aspects of distance runners' training, interspersed with reflections on the emotional and psychological makeup of those who decide to do it.

About halfway through, though, the plot developed some external, event-driven tension, and I found myself really rooting for the main character, even through all the endless descriptions of different tracks, times, speeds, training schedules, intervals, etc. I gave this four stars because at the end, I felt really satisfied with the story, and even felt myself itching to start running a little bit. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
The absolute cult classic of distance running. I have read this so many times I can't remember. If you ran in college or high school competitively and seriously it it required reading-but really once you start it is a pure joy. Doubt anyone can read this slowly. It is a book you devour. ( )
  vanjr | Oct 4, 2015 |
I like running. Hell, I LOVE running. But this one definitely does not pass the test of time. It's a 5-star, cult classic, that is, if you are a male, high school track star in 1978. Even if there was an easing of the horrific similes and metaphors, this feel-good, uber-predictable runner's story, still falls as flat as a worn pair of Addidas...
1 vote Sandydog1 | Jan 6, 2015 |
A mark of a favorite book is that it shows new treasures on repeated readings. Parker's novel seemed simple and amaturish on a first reading, but I keep finding things, new things, that bring me joy with repeated readings.

September 2013

I like this book. It has charmed me so that I find its faults endearing rather than off-putting. Parker is an amateur writer but not amateurish. It has a first-novel feel, but Parker has an eye for a story. I didn't mind when it meandered and I felt engaged with both the author and the character on the pages.

Also, I loved the runner's insight. It should be noted that Quentin's views on training volume and over-training are purely fictional. Parker captures well the elite athlete's drive and conveys the gap between people who run and elite endurance athletes. However, his description of over-training and his character's scorn for recovery periods doesn't mesh with the advice given by the actual coaches he had or other top coaches (read more: http://www.runnerspace.com/news.php?do=view&news_id=6362) It does do a great job as a literary device for communicating the essence of being an elite runner (as far as this non-elite can tell) but it isn't practical training advice. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
"What was the secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with that most unprofound and sometimes heart-rending process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottoms of his training shoes. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials." ( )
  stringsn88keys | Aug 7, 2012 |
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How did I know you ran the mile in 4:30 in high school? That's easy. Everyone ran the mile in 4:30 in high school.

-- Frank Shorter, out running somewhere, circa 1969
This book is for Jack Bacheler and Frank Shorter, old friends, great runners. In fond remembrance, fellows, of many Trials and many Miles...
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The night joggers were out as usual.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0915297019, Paperback)

This is the inspirational cult classic that Runner's World (and many others) have called "the best novel ever written about running".

The Reno Gazette-Journal has also called it "a book so good, people will steal it."

How often do you hear about someone borrowing a friend's book, then later buying their own copy because they liked it so much? Or a book so treasured that it gets passed from friend to friend until it simply falls apart from so many readings? Once a Runner is such a book. It has become a cult classic and our all-time best seller. It's been acclaimed over the years by Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar and many other top runners.

Many regard the story of Quenton Cassidy's battle to the top as the most accurate portrayal yet written of the tiny universe of world class runners. And it's a great source of training inspiration and wisdom as well. Many readers say they learned more about running from this novel than from all the training books they have read.

It has won Running magazine's award as the best book of the year, and has been highly acclaimed by Runner's World, Running Times, Racing South, and Track & Field News, as well as by writers like Don Kardong, Kenny Moore Tom Jordan and Hal Higdon.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:56 -0400)

Distance runner Quenton Cassidy is suspended from the track team for his involvement in an athlete protest and risks his future prospects to train on a monastic retreat with an Olympic medalist.

(summary from another edition)

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