Author and marathoner Claudia Piepenburg compiled a book of first-person reflections of runners, both famous and ordinary.
She started running at age 31.
A year later, she ran the 1981 Detroit Free Press Marathon. Now she has 63 other marathons to her credit.
Piepenburg, 51 and married, now lives in San Diego with a career and a body that’s getting just a bit creaky. She knows how it feels to need a motivation boost.
Knows about bosses and spouses and grandchildren who conspire to keep us from our appointed miles. Knows about fatigue. Knows what it’s like to hear a tempting inner voice say, “Aw, skip your run tonight.”
For those moments in every runner’s life, Piepenburg has compiled a handy little book. Its breezy 92 pages didn’t keep me on the couch yawning. Instead, I got bursts of inspiration to run as I scanned two dozen short profiles and first-person reflections of runners — from the famous to ordinary joggers and weekend racers. Piepenburg got most of them from strangers by way of e-mail.
“Running for the Soul” (Road Runner Sports, $19.95) has the flavor of real people.
She hopes those who find themselves despairing about their running grab her book, read for three minutes and then hit the road with new vigor.
Scattered amid the inspiring stories are tips that motivate some of the world’s top athletes and some ordinary runners with extraordinary courage. Here are some that caught my eye:
1. Set a goal. But not one involving your weight, clothing size or quality of a relationship. All are too unpredictable to provide steady reinforcement.
2. Try the 10-minute rule. As Piepenburg puts it, “Tell yourself you’ll head out for 10 minutes, and if you don’t feel good, you’ll jog home. I guarantee, you’ll keep running. You always feel good after 10 minutes.”
3. Just imagine. If fatigue sabotages a run, imagine a moment when your stride felt terrific. Piepenburg, who is 5-foot-5 and 108 pounds, refills her mental fuel tank by imagining the last two blocks of the Boston Marathon — particularly, she says, “if I’ve just gotten out the door and I think I don’t really want to be doing this.”
“I see the road lined with bleachers of people, and the sound of the crowd is so powerful. My body is saying, “I really want this to be over.’
“But my mind is saying, “I want this to go on forever.’ If you could just bottle that feeling, you’d make a fortune.”
How right she is.
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