This is a look into some books that are running related.  The relationship may seem like a stretch at times, but it is there.  That may include tapping into the psyche of running and not just the obvious physical aspect.  But, as most serious runners know, our running is affected in one way or another by everything we perceive.  Reading helps us to broaden that perception.

BOOK:  An Honorable Run

AUTHOR: Matt McCue

COPYRIGHT: 2009

 

Me, Richard Westbrook, and Matt McCue, the author

Me, Richard Westbrook, and Matt McCue, the author

            I met the author, Matt McCue, at last summer’s (2011) Nike Smoky Mountain Runner’s Camp in Asheville, NC.  Matt gave the speech at the end of camp, and I must say that his speech (which was not perceived as a “speech”) was one of the best I have ever heard at camp.  Other long-time staffers also thought so.  Matt and I had a good talk about running, coaching, and high school versus college running.  We had our picture taken together after which I told him that I would destroy the picture if I didn’t like the book, which I got from him and would be my next read.

            An Honorable Run is a very good and easily read book.  It captured my interest right off the bat and carried me through its 157 pages quickly.  It is about a journey of a walk-on collegiate runner at the University of Colorado.  The runner, McCue, ran high school cross-country at Regina High in Iowa City, Iowa.  He worked hard, probably harder than any other team member.  He loved running.  He had a good coach.  He was not recruited by any college.

            The book tells of his relationship with his high school coach, Bob Brown.  Brown started the program at the school and built it to a championship level.  Because of his love of running and his thirst for success, McCue looked for a top program in which to run after high school.  The fact that he was not recruited did not deter him from reaching for the Colorado Buffaloes.  He had read Chris Lear’s Running with the Buffaloes, which gave a day-by-day account the University of Colorado’s 1998 cross-country season.

            Matt’s writing is laced with humor in giving the situations he encountered in trying to just make contact with Colorado’s coach, Mark Wetmore.  This dry humor is intertwined throughout the book but does not affect the seriousness of the story.  Matt makes the book realistic in being able to communicate to the reader his apprehensions, confidences, and cases of reality shock that he encounters in his running journey.  His style of writing makes it such that we can all relate to his situations.

            Starting with his junior high track experiences in which he aimed for the shortest events possible resulting in being smoked in the beginning 400-meter time trial through his getting “assigned” to do the mile time trial, Matt leads us through his running career.  The guts of the story are the two coaches, Brown on the high school level and Wetmore on the college level.

            It is clear that Coach Brown probably had a deeper and longer lasting influence on Matt than the seemingly more impersonal Wetmore.  And, one of the great characters in the picture is Matt’s mom.  She is perceived as being in the background but a careful reader will note that his mom aimed Matt on his journey and gave him the tools to complete the task.  She seems to be a very interesting character and one I would like to meet because of reading this book.

            Lessons were learned during Matt’s journey.  These lessons dealt with workouts, running distances, relationships with teammates, goals, first experiences, expectations, dealing with coaches, and most significantly…determining what was of value.  The reader of this story will thoroughly enjoy vicariously experiencing these with the author.

            This is a short, soft back book that is a quick read.  It did not get a lot of “hoopla” that I have read or heard.  But, it is one of the most enjoyable books on running that I have read, and I read everything on the subject that I can get.  I strongly suggest that you read this book.  You will not be disappointed.

Richard Westbrook

                             ______________________________________________________________

To be serious is the greatest joy.”

                                                                                                Gustav Mahler

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s