Once a Runner is a must read for any distance runner, former runner, or those that aspire to be. John L. Parker, Jr. wrote this book in 1978 and it was a runner-cult-classic. It was sold by the author himself out of the trunk of his car as it was initially only published in small quantities. In 2009, it was re-released under a new publisher and thankfully is much easier to get your hands on a copy.
The story takes you through the motivational “miles of trials and trials of miles” of fictional character, Quentin Cassidy. “Cass” is his university’s track team captain and a sub-4 hopeful in the mile. As you read, you’ll enjoy the author’s intellect and wit as he colorfully paints the world of distance running for the readers. John L. Parker, Jr. does a great job of developing the main characters and their relationships with each other. Running may be a sport of individual events, but I was grateful at the author’s eloquence in portraying the magic of a teammate’s encouragement as Cass found in his friend, Bruce Denton.
As you read about these collegiate athletes and their grueling routine, you’ll get a surge of motivation when you lace up for your next morning run; your heart will race as you turn the pages describing Cass’s races; and you’ll find yourself buying copies of this book for fellow runners and close friends, as this is as best insight into the distance runner’s physical and mental training as I’ve ever read. Written in an era when America was a contender in the endurance running events, you’ll be able to see why as you endure the workouts with the main characters.
Once a Runner is a superb and subtle come-back to all of those "non-runner" masochistic accusations and theories that have evolved over the years. Quentin Cassidy’s tale is an inspirational one and sure to strike a chord with any runner. So no matter whether you’re a reminiscing competitor, a new runner, or an aspiring marathoner…this book will surely put a jolt into your routine and a spring in your step. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone that needs some motivation and inspiration for their running routine!