This year marks the fiftieth year of my involvement in the sport of long-distance running. Looking back, I guess it started with a present under the Christmas tree in 1967. I was twelve years old. And inside a brightly wrapped box with ribbon and bow was a pair of Onitsuka Tiger training shoes. My parents found them on sale at the local weed and feed store, which just happened to carry shoes, for twelve dollars. They were white with blue and red piping. At the time, they were the fanciest pair of sneakers I’d ever seen. I slipped them on my feet and found the shoes to my liking. Somewhere between presents and turkey dinner, I got the notion in my head to try the shoes out. I decided to run twelve times around our block, one loop for every year I was old. Thus began my running career. I never looked back.
Little did I know, at the time, that the sport of distance running would take me around the world as an athlete and a coach. At the time, I also didn’t realize the personal journey I would undergo. It has become a journey of mind, body, and spirit. Like life, it has been a journey of setbacks and successes. And somewhere along the way, my passion for running and writing merged. The late Dr. George Sheehan, author of Running & Being, stated, “There are times when I am not sure whether I am a runner who writes, or a writer who runs.” Either way, writing has become my way of preserving and making sense of running experiences. Each daily journey—whether it be running the forests, mountains, beaches, farmlands, deserts, towns, or rural neighborhoods—has provided inspiration for my writing. Other passions in my life have come and gone, but the pure joy of my breath, heartbeat, and footfall intermingling with the landscape has remained. I am now, and will always be, a runner.
In their own way, this collection of over one thousand haiku tells a bit about myself, my life, and what I have come to know through the sport. There is something here for everyone passionate about long-distance running.