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Once a Runner (1978)

by John L. Parker

Series: Once A Runner (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5691832,416 (4.11)17
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.
  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.
  2. 00
    What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir by Haruki Murakami (ostgut)

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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
An okay novel, but pretty much perfect encapsulation of endurance sport and running in particular. The author grasps the essentially indescribable nature of dedicating your existence to repeating over and over and over again the same basic mechanical actions and somehow believing that it is the greatest thing you could possibly be doing.
Beautifully captures the despair, longing, childish delight, monotony, aching thrill and wild surges of adrenaline that come with trying to get yourself to go ever so slightly faster. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
My co-worker gave me this book to read. All his said was, "This is a must read if you are a runner." I could not put it down once I started. I know first hand that runners are "rare-breads." This book is able to put what every runner thinks into words in a hilarious fictional text. At times I thought that the Quentin Cassidy was one of my former college teammates. I am happy to recommend this book to other runners! ( )
  jlindqu5 | Feb 23, 2020 |
If you've run competitively you've probably already read this, everyone else can skip it. ( )
  easytarget | Feb 6, 2020 |
It does what they say it does. A deft description of the mind of a runner. I felt the plot was a bit thin to truly hold up as a classic novel. It felt more like an extra-long short story where the characters can be a bit thin. Still, the elucidation of the mania and fear that running engenders is spot-on. While I've never run a track race, I identified most with the main character's point that often when running, we reach a point of near unconsciousness. That's a big reason why I run and it was great to see it pointed out so well. ( )
  alexezell | Nov 14, 2018 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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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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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.

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Average: (4.11)
1 1
2 3
2.5 1
3 25
3.5 5
4 47
4.5 10
5 48

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