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The Runner's High: Illumination and Ecstasy in Motion Paperback – November 1, 2004

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Garth Battista is the editor of The Runner's Literary Companion and How Running Changed My Life.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

The essays in this book reveal the most rapturous moments of running, and they offer clear glimpses of our inner lives. We escape from the tedium of daily existence with the physical exuberance of a good run, and sometimes that simple act is lofted up into something extraordinary. Some people find that the runner’s high confirms or augments their belief in God, and that the high is a moment of communion. For some it is simply an enjoyable, if weird, pleasure; or a blissful, timeless meditation. Others find that the sublime joy of the runner’s high is a confirmation of something else—a broader spiritual force, or unknown powers within humanity.

As with the parable of the three blind men describing the elephant, I believe that all the essayists here are describing one huge magnificent thing. Each is telling us a distinct truth about it. And what they are describing is not just the anatomy of these uplifted moments, but also something about us all. Humanity’s essential physical nature—the animal in us, all blood and lungs and sinew—when used and exercised thoroughly, sometimes leads to a hidden ethereal part of ourselves. We discover that we are built for illumination and ecstasy, but the gift goes mostly unused; it is hardwired in us, just as we have legs to run, but not all humans run.

Reading these essays we begin to sense the nature of this mysterious phenomenon. Given the diversity of voices here, and their wondrous panoply of experiences, I think they may have covered nearly the whole damn elephant.
—G. B.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Breakaway Books (November 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1891369490
  • ISBN-13: 978-1891369490
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,210,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darren Peluchio on August 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Some interesting personal reflections on the connection between 'peak' experiences, moments of 'flow', spirituality and exercise. A section about the biological underpinnings of these experiences wouldn't have gone amiss, however.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed many of the essays in the book. Some were inspiring, although I have never had as much fun running as most of the writers. Several of the essays were more focused on the writing than the subject. The essays are more by writers who run than by runners who are willing to write about their experience. Overall, the book helped me appreciate that joy can be found in running - even if you cannot attain the elusive runners high.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chris Custer on January 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a let down. Recently, I have been reading everything I can find on running, especially any personal experiences in running. Until this book, I had been almost every running book's perfect audience. But, these essays were uninspiring, to say the least.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TheGoodRighter on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I didn't enjoy the book as much as I expected. The author recollects experiences with a real sense of arrogance and promiscuity. As a runner, I don't believe there is such a thing as a 'runner's high'. And at what mile do people start getting high? 3? 5? 7? 9? Moreover, is it appropriate to 'get high', even while running? It sounds counter-intuitive but nevertheless people engage in it. And it is, in fact, quite difficult. As a Christian woman, I think it's wrong to overuse the word 'high'; by the same token I think it's unbecoming to run too much.
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