Chronicles of the Grind: Once A Runner Quotes, Part 1
Once A Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is one of the best books about running ever written and is definitely a must read for competitive runners. I’ve never read a book that captured what it means to be a competitive runner.
Once A Runner is a novel that follows Quenton Cassidy who runs cross country and track at Southeastern University. Due to some trouble with administration, Cassidy is suspended from running for the school. This causes him to drop out of school, move to a cabin owned by his friend (and Olympic Gold Medalist) Bruce Denton, and pursue running full time. This leads to a showdown between Cassidy and John Walton, the only man who has run under 3:50 for the mile. I’ve spoiled the basic plot of the book but I figured everyone reading this right now has read it already, probably more than once. And if you have not read it yet, READ IT RIGHT AWAY.
This book has a lot of meaning to me and has helped me better understand running. I want to share quotes from the book that I like. Some of these are important and have meaning, others are just funny. I hope you enjoy.
“Cassidy did not like cross country; the distance was too long for a miler, he disliked not being able to “feel” the finish line during the race.” Page 20
Should be noted that in arguably the greatest running book of all time the main character hates cross country. I will forever and always argue that track is far superior to cross country and if you disagree you are wrong. Just ask Quenton Cassidy.
“Over the course of several years at Southeastern, as [Bruce] Denton’s reputation grew, a number of undergraduate runners decided they would train with him, thinking to pick up on the Secret…On the third day (assuming the new man made it that far) his outlook would begin to take its toll…The new runner would find it more tedious than he could bear. The awful truth would begin to dawn on him: there was no Secret!” Page 35, 36
If you are a college runner, find a Bruce Denton for you to look up to and learn from. Someone who does things the right way. Someone who knows there is no secret, only consistent, hard training. That is the only way to prove yourself in running. Your Bruce Denton does not have to be a gold medalist, NCAA champion, All-American, Conference Champion, etc. It just has to be someone who you can tell has put themselves fully into running and is dedicated to being their best selves on the track.
“In order to arrange this day of perfect drifting, an entirely traditional local pastime, he (Cassidy) and Mizner — now floating up ahead with his date — had arisen at 7:30 and run seventeen miles. It was the only way they could spend their day in the sweet haze of Boone’s Farm apple wine and still appease the great white Calendar God whose slighted or empty squares would surely turn up someday to torment the guilt-ridden runner.” Page 43
Another piece of advice from this quote: If you are going to hang out with people and do something fun, do your run first. Chances are you won’t get it done if you say you are going to do it later. Wake up early and run. Also I will just say that few things are more satisfying then getting a big run in and enjoying booze with your friends for the rest of the day.
“‘And is there some kind of final point to all this?’ Andrea said.
‘Depends on what you call a point. It’s a simple choice: we can all be good boys and wear our letter sweaters around and get our little degrees and find some nice girl…’ (Cassidy)
‘Or what? What’s your alternative?’ (Andrea)
‘Or we can blaze! Become legends in our own time, strike fear in the heart of mediocre talent everywhere! We can scald dogs, put records out of reach! Make the stands gasp as we blow into an unearthly kick from three hundred yards out! We can become God’s own messengers delivering the dreaded scrolls! (Cassidy)” Page 63
This is the moment that Andrea fell in love with Cassidy. It is also my moment where I fall head over heels for Cassidy. This quote captures something that is so close to the competitive runners heart, if you don’t understand it’s because you have not been there before. There are no words I can give to this feeling that Cassidy describes.
This is part one. Part two to come soon. Read the book. It is always worth a read.