Published on August 13, 2012, by meg in Book review.

As I’ve increased my mileage, I’ve gotten crafty about my longer runs during the week. I ran to work on Thursday and was super-proud of myself, but of course I had to tell my coworkers what I was doing. And when they marveled at how far I ran to work, I had to point out that I would be running twice that long over the weekend and that this run was actually really important.

In response, I got a lot of wide eyes and a lot of variations on “are you crazy?” So I was happy to be able to tell them about the book I had just finished and about Dean Karnazes, which made me sound perfectly normal. Well, closer to perfectly normal, anyway.

I had never heard of him before fellow blogger Carly met him at the NorthFace Endurance Challenge last June. When she met him again at the same race (as part of a blogger team!), it reminded me that I had been meaning to read his book.

I know what ultrarunning is; this wasn’t a new discovery for me. But I didn’t know much about what drives people to run that far. I’m not sure I do now, though I do know that I don’t have that

The book is a brief recounting how Karnazes (or “Karno) started running long distances. It’s pretty cool to watch him go from a high school cross-country runner to a man driven to run the Western States 100 miler. And from there, he keeps pushing himself to run longer and longer distances. The whole thing is a fun read and definitely made my long runs seem completely doable!

My favorite part comes before he runs Western States when he talks about why he runs (which he does a lot in the book, and never comes up with one answer).

I’d also come to recognize that the simplicity of running was quite liberating. Modern man has virtually everything one could desire, but too often we’re still not fulfilled. “Things” don’t bring happiness. Some of my finest moments came while running down the open road, little more than a pair of shoes and shorts to my name. A runner doesn’t need much.

It’s so true. I love the simplicity of running, of going out the door and making a loop and being done for the day. No matter how big that loop is, the whole enterprise remains breathtakingly simple. It’s a major reason why I love running. I don’t need tools or fancy equipment. I don’t have to drive anywhere and I get fresh air and sunshine and my day is inordinately better because of all of that.