Owen Barder running in Hyde Park

The author

This is a book about running; but it is also a book about runners.  Though I have been around runners for a long time now, they continue to amaze me.

Running has a reputation for being a sport for loners, an image immortalised in Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.  The runners I know do indeed have quiet determination, a strong sense of self-worth and deep reserves of inner strength.  But in my experience, runners are not introverts.  They are outgoing, sharing and considerate.  Runners seem to have the unusual quality of being equally confident in their own company and in the company of others. To me, this suggests that running can help us to reach an elusive inner balance.

Running is a very honest sport.  You get out what you put in.  If you haven’t done the training for a marathon, you can’t fake it.  But if you put in the work, you will reap the rewards.  There is nothing flash and nothing glamorous about the sport; just honest hard work.  Perhaps this helps to explain the straightforward and open character of the runner.

This book is written both for beginners and more experienced runners.  It starts with advice to beginners to help get you started, and then helps you to progress further, to develop your health, fitness and running.  Although some of the discussion about training techniques in the later chapters won’t appear at first to be relevant to a complete beginner, there is plenty of advice which will help to lay the foundations of a long, safe and enjoyable pastime.

Such wisdom as there is in this book is a composite of my own experiences and those of my friends and fellow runners, who have been kind enough to share what they have learned from many years of running.  Like so many others, I have also benefited enormously from the great running writers, such as Tim Noakes, George Sheehan, Frank Horwill and Hal Higdon.   There is, in Noakes’s words, a shared lore of running from which this book draws; I hope that, in a small way, this book also contributes to that community of knowledge.

If this book helps one person to become physically active, or if it helps one experienced runner to avoid an injury, or if one jogger is inspired to be the best that they can be, then it will have made a positive contribution to the world.  And that is all that we can ask of ourselves.

Owen Barder
Addis Ababa, 2010

6 Responses to Preface

  • Sally:

    I’ve really enjoyed your website, I have my 4th marathon this Sunday coming and it soothes my nerves reading all your running advice!

    I also regularly use your race time predictor calculators, it’s nice to see the variety of times across all the distances on one page.

    Thanks for the making the effort 🙂


  • Owen, thanks for putting together such an organized and useful website. And for making your entire book available on-line. Wow, that is so rare. With the wide range of training techniques out there these days, it can be complicated and confusing to organizing a training plan. And expensive if you choose to hire an individual coach. Your site makes it easy to tailor my training to my goals, abilities and current fitness. And to understand why I should include or exclude a type of training. Thanks so much!


  • Theresa Rosenberg:

    Owen, I want to thank you for sharing your book with us at no cost. I have always been a stop, starter at running, but over the last 2 years have started to take it more seriously. The practical advice from yourself and the public has been very useful.


  • Bill Francis:

    I used to run a lot. My longest distance was a 10K. After a torn ACL and surgery resulting in a colostomy I was told you cannot and will not run distances again. After years of weight gain and bad habits, I was pushing 250 pounds. Increasing leg pain led to my ortho who after X-rays 8-10 years ago said I will definitely need a knee replacement due to vanishing cartilage. He said weight loss would relieve some pain, but replacement was inevitable. After losing weight this year I noticed I could jump out of a golf cart without pain. I then saw your story on TV and in Sports Illustrated and decided I owed it to me self to try running again. I was online shopping for the best cross training shoes and was referred to your blog. Please forward the book and I will report back after getting the shoes and starting up again. Thanks in advance

  • Owen, it was great to read such a good topics covered by you in you book. It’s really helpful for those who don’t have coach. As you must be aware that running in India is taking its own peak. It will be a great help for Indian hobby runners. Would like to have your contact details for further discussion and guidance. Thanks

  • Shona:

    Owen, I’m 62 and started running 4yrs ago and I’m really loving it. I’ve managed to find different sites which have been helpful but I’m so glad I found your site it has been immensely helpful. I’m a lone runner and have about 7 different running routes which I compete on time wise. Building up to do my first half marathon so have found your site a great help. Thank you.

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