async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Book Review: Running Home: A Memoir by Katie Arnold

Friday, March 15, 2019

Book Review: Running Home: A Memoir by Katie Arnold

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Running Home: A Memoir from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.


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"Some days I can no longer tell if running is madness or the clearest kind of sanity."

Katie Arnold is probably one of the best runners who happens to write. You might not have heard of her, but chances are you've read one of her articles in the New York Times, Runner's World or Outside Magazine, among others. She is also an elite ultramarathoner with an amazing list of accomplishments including first woman in the 2018 Leadville Trail 100 run.

Katie's love of running started by accident when her father signed seven-year-old Katie and her sister up for the Fodderstack 10k classic. Her father, David Arnold, a National Geographic photographer, wanted to take a picture of the sisters crossing the finish line. It took her almost 2 hours to finish. After the race, he had the girls run and crawl across the finish line multiple times so he could capture the moment on film. On the way home from the race, Katie had an insight:
"Suffering and perseverance were their own rewards. They could make me stronger. They could make all the tricky bits of life seem easier." ~Katie Arnold, Running Home: A Memoir.


Many years after that race, Katie Arnold's father died. Her grief was overwhelming and plunged her into a pool of debilitating anxiety. Although her parents divorced when she was a child and she didn't see her father often, they were close. Her father was a kindred spirit and a mentor to Katie. In pursuing a job as a writer for Outside Magazine, she was following in the path of adventure he had set. After he died, she sought to learn more about her father. She also turned to running to ease her anxiety and work through her grief.
"How do we measure grief? In seconds, minutes, hours? Days, months, years? Like love, it can't be quantified. There is no time limit. It's not linear but cyclical. It's bears down on me in the darkening days of winter and lifts with the strength of the springtime sun. I'm beginning to predict its comings and going. It's growing sluggish, as I am becoming quicker and more nimble. Most of the time now, I can stay just out in front, the fear and sorrow trailing behind me with outstretched arms, trying to keep up but falling further and further behind. " ~Katie Arnold
As Katie continued running, she became faster and ran further until the point when she "accidentally" ran a marathon. After meeting Dean Karnazes and talking with him about ultramarathoning, she was so inspired that she started to race. She also started feeling "mommy guilt" for leaving her young daughters while running so long.
"I'd always hoped that running would make me a better mother, but now I know that being a mother makes me a better runner. I wasn't running from nothingness after all, but fullness, where all possibilities exist equally--winning, losing, hurting, dropping; being strong, being a mother, being alone, being scared--yet I wasn't attached to any one of them. So empty of wanting one speciffic thing, I was full of everything." ~Katie Arnold

At the end of the book, Arnold has a chapter titled "The Long Way Home".  As she states, "running has a way of bringing you full circle. Whether you run a loop, an out-and-back, or a long point-to-point, up mountains or down, you almost always come back to where you started." Her stepmom signed up for that Fodderstack 10k and Katie decided to join her. Katie's daughter also ran it.  It is with this visit home that Katie finally realizes she's at peace.

I just loved this book. It is very long and took me a while to read because I wanted to savor every piece of Arnold's writing. The prose in this book is just exquisite. As much as I like to lose myself on a long run, I completely immersed myself in the story and felt as if I was running on the trails with the author. If I were to write a running book, this is the kind of book I'd like to write. I read a lot of running books, some technical and some profound, but no book has captured what running means to me more than this one.

Have you read Running Home: A Memoir? If so, what did you think? What kind of running books do you like to read--technical or personal? Do you run to work out life's problems?


Running Home: A Memoir completely captures what it means to be a runner.  /via @oldrunningmom @raisingrippers @NetGalley @RandomHouse #runchat #running 



Next month, we're reading another new release, Outrunning the Demons: Lives Transformed through Running, by Phil Hewitt. This is a collection of stories about the transformational power of running. I've been hearing lots of good things about this book and I'm excited to read it!



I'm linking this post with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.




19 comments :

  1. I can totally relate to her first quote! I would love to see tha photo her dad took of her and her sister crossing their very first finish line! That makes me wonder if I have a photo of my very first finish line???? Probably not . DO you?

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    1. I don't! Huge regret, but back then (the 90s) there weren't smart phones and selfies weren't a thing!

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  2. I think what makes these running books so good is that the writers write about experiences we all can relate to. I belong to a book club with some of the other women in my running club. This book sounds like it would be right up our alley. I may suggest it. Thanks for the honest review.

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    1. This was one of the best running books I've read. Partly because it was so relatable and partly because the writing is so beautiful.

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  3. This sounds like a great read. I love the quotes about motherhood and running.We do always end up back in the same place with running. It's comforting and frustrating at the same time for me. Thanks for the great review

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  4. I'm interested in this book - so many athletes can write a book, but they can't always articulate their story well. Sounds like this one did, and it's a good tale!

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  5. I like both technical & personal books about running.

    Often I have used running as an anecdote to stress, but sometimes I find being still can be that anecdote too.

    That’s so interesting that she ended up at the same race that started her down the running path — with her daughter.

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  6. That's an interesting perspective how she said being a mom made her a better runner. So often, it seems a lot of us have that reversed LOL

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  7. I haven't read this one, but I'm adding it to my list now!

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  8. This sounds excellent and I'll add it to my wishlist. I'm reading Running Hot by Lisa Tamati at the moment which is very good.

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    1. I'm going to have to look into that one. So many books out right now!

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  9. Sounds like a great one! I am already plotting out my reading list for my upcoming vacation - I will have to check it out!

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  10. What a great book! I'm adding it to my list. Hope you are doing well!!

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