By Gary Dudney, author of The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running 

Running can seem very much like a “just do it” kind of thing. You run. You sweat. When you’re done, you’re happy with yourself. End of story, move on. Why would you need to get all thoughtful about it? Why would you need the case for reading running books?

Well, because for many people running becomes a lot more than just getting a little exercise. Delve more deeply into what’s going on in your mind out there on a run and you’ll be surprised at the richness of the experience.

Why is running such a stress reliever? Why do you feel so empowered after a run? Why does running give you such a blast of self-esteem? Understanding the mental side of running can help you answer these questions and not incidentally help make you a much better runner. It can also make you better at handling stress in other areas of life.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve run 52 one hundred mile races. My record for the first 26 hundred milers I ran was 16 successes and 10 failures. Not a great record. But then I reeled off 26 straight finishes to get to my total of 52. The difference wasn’t in any physical changes I made, like more or different training. The difference was that I thoroughly studied the mental side of running and got my head right for dealing with the tough challenges you face when you run hard or long.

If you’re running, you should be reading about running. There are many very inspiring running books out there nowadays about people who have transformed their lives in amazing ways through running. And then there are books like mine, The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running that help you focus on the mental journey that running takes you on and offers strategies for overcoming the toughest challenges. These strategies help you run better but they can also be applied to other challenges in your life.

About Gary Dudney

Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races.


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