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The lasting running wisdom of Joe Henderson

Now, I really did cut my teeth on running books. I remember getting them out of the Murray Library in East Kilbride when I was a kid, one who walked into lamp-posts reading his books on the way home. One about Percy Cerutty sticks in my mind, but I still have to run down the title. The story of the Swedes Arne Andersen and Gunder Hagg during neutral Sweden’s World War Two is also memorable. I loved the idea of fartlek-ing and paarlauf-ing through the pine woods in the deep dark forest. Unfortunately the working class West of Scotland in the 60s and early 70s wasn’t a romantic place, but I got by.
I always knew that I would never be a runner though. Too big, slow and awkward. But, I wanted to be a runner, just did. Running appealed to me in a way that other sports didn’t, in the end, ‘cos I tried a lot of them in my teens and early twenties. Seeing Steve Ovett elbowing his way through the contenders at the European Championships to gain the silver medal behind Luciano Susanj, when he was 17 and I 16, was inspirational. He is probably, still, only my one true hero.
Running began to be the sport of choice in my early twenties, as I struck out on my own. I could just get out and go, and just get out and go myself, and so it fitted both the type of moneyless life that I lived as a student, and my developing sense of my own psychology; someone who liked that time to be alone and unwind.
I felt too that I could make some progress at it, and did. I got fitter, almost by accident, just through keeping doing it. I seemed to keep doing it for 8 weeks, then stopped for what seemed like a long time. Then I would pick it up again.
Finally, when I was 32, I decided to keep at it, to make it a lifestyle. Lifestyle and love don’t easily mix, without understanding.


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