Writing on running

LtW_8_Cover_finalI was pleased last week to see a piece I wrote some time ago appear in the latest Like the Wind magazine. It is entitled ‘The dark art of coaching’, and is a reflection on some of the characters and issues I have faced in my coaching career. Since writing my first book on running I have been regularly trying to write for other outlets. This is partly, I think, to practice writing for different audiences, but also because I have got the bug, and just love to write – and then (importantly for me) see that writing getting published.

In the last year I have had two other publications accept articles from me. Firstly, The Fellrunner accepted a piece entitled ‘Bob, the navigator’ [read: bobnavigatorfull] in its Spring 2015 issue; and then Trail Running magazine commissioned an edited extract of my second book, which was published as ‘The 24 hours that changed running history’ (not my title!) [read: Steve Chilton BGR] in its Oct/Nov 15 issue. The one aspect that I have been disappointed over is not being able to get anything published in The Guardian’s online ‘Running Blog’ yet, despite submitting what I thought was a good piece entitled ‘Off-road running – an antidote to life’s worries and expensive adventure races’.

It does show that as an author (but not professional journalist) you can find a variety of outlets to publish in. I have yet to try Athletics Weekly or the Daily Telegraph (which is picking up the running baton online now). You could say, why not just be satisfied with your own blog? Even though some stuff goes here, it doesn’t give me the same buzz somehow. The intangible ‘yes’ of acceptance by an outside ‘publication’ is a feeling/reward that I crave.

I have always read a lot. Since trying to write I have probably read even more, and certainly have covered the running books scene pretty well. Are more books on running being published than ever before, or am I maybe just more aware of them? Examples of ones that were published recently include: 2 Hours (Ed Caesar), Runner (Lizzy Hawker), Way of The Runner (Adharanand Finn), and Natural Born Heroes (Christopher McDougall). However, and despite very much enjoying Caesar and Finn, I still would argue that the running oeuvre overall has a way to go to match cycling on the quality writing front.

But maybe some of those that I have noticed that are scheduled for publication this year (or later) will change that. Some good ones to come, are from: Richard Askwith (Today We Die a Little: The Rise and Fall of Emil Zátopek, Olympic Legend, out 21 Apr 2016), Rick Broadbent (Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zátopek, ALSO out 21 Apr 2016), Jonny Muir (next project – due for publication in late 2017/early 2018 – is a book on Scottish hill running and racing with a particular focus on the Charlie Ramsay Round), and myself (an as yet untitled third book, a biography of Kenny Stuart and John Wild, due out March 2017).

Meanwhile, if you want a good running read then blogs are often the place to find it. Some examples I like are those of: Ed Price, Ben Mounsey, Jonny Muir, and Karen Murphy. A good place to find new blog posts is on the FRA Forum thread dedicated to blogs. [If you have a favourite running-related blog DO let me know, via a comment.]

Footnote: A new (old one) one on me, and on my book wish list now, is Pat Butcher’s ‘The Destiny of Ali Mimoun’, which I only knew about after his piece in the latest LTW magazine. And bizarrely, his biog in LTW states that he is ‘currently writing an account of the life of Emil Zatopek’. So, if that comes out it will be three new books on that great athlete. Of course you can always search out a copy of Bob Phillips’ 2002 book, with the excellent title of: ‘Za-to-pek! Za-to-pek! Za-to-pek!’

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