Category Archives: The Book

Why I run

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When I run I escape the commodification of life. I dislike the way our social existence is organised, so that merely to live requires you to constantly purchase and consume. Anyone who has had to wait for a few hours in an unfamiliar town will know the frustration of shuffling from one café to another, all the time purchasing little more than a roof over your head for a few minutes at a time.

Sport is a particular culprit. To join a gym, you have to pay a subscription. To watch football, regularly, you should really have a season ticket with your favourite team, or a subscription to satellite television (either will set you back several hundred pounds), or at the barest minimum a much-favoured local and a team playing regularly enough in the right competitions (but few do). Bit by bit, free sport is being removed from television and radio. I am fed up with sports that I watch as a spectator but in which I am not allowed to participate.

To run, all you need is a pair of running shoes (and it is years since I last bought a new pair). The activity itself comes satisfyingly free.

[from my book Lives; Running]

Lives; Running now published

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This shows the first copies of Lives; Running, hot off the printing press and now available to purchase. The photo was taken on my desk in chambers; you’ll have spotted, I’m sure, the pink tape in the background.

Bookmarks have kindly agreed to sell it at the Marxism festival. For any readers of this blog who would like to find me there I’ll be at Alan Kenny’s Olympics talk on the Friday, and then speaking myself on Saturday morning and then around the rest of Saturday and bits of Sunday. Hope to catch up with some of you there!

Why I run

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When I run, I feel my legs unstiffen and stretch. I run to luxuriate in the co-ordination of my legs and chest. Like a person meditating, I run to let my head empty of all pressing thoughts. I run for the sudden, temporary exhilaration as I let my knees pick up and my body moves faster, to its goal.

When I was a schoolboy and I ran, I felt that my body was free with the effortlessness of a perpetual-motion machine. Had someone asked me to run from one end of the country to the other, or had I been asked to run an ultra-marathon through a vast, empty desert, neither task would not have seemed, I would have only wondered how long it would take me. I knew with absolute certainty that I could run any conceivable distance simply by allowing my pace to slacken and my body to keep going.

Even today, reminded as I am when I run of the weakness in my joints and tendons, the exercise makes my whole body buzz in joy. The effort of work lightens, my skin feels loose. I am taken back to other times and I become young once more.

[from my book Lives; Running]

[Lives; Running can be ordered from Bookmarks bookshop]

Lives; Running – seeking reviewers

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I received a message from my publishers Zero Books on Monday indicating that the hard copies of Lives; Running are now in their warehouse. As I’ve indicated before, the book can also be pre-ordered, either from Bookmarks bookshop (which actively promotes radical books) or from Amazon (which doesn’t). This is the stage then when I’m hoping to interest friendly publications in a review. Assuming all works out, I’m hoping it will be reviewed in publications like Morning Star, Red Pepper, Socialist Review, Tribune, etc etc, as well as in the running press. (I’m not suggesting that I’ve lined these up in advance, only that they are the sorts of publications who might be interested).

If you’d like to write for publications like those, or if you have any links already to these or any other magazines or websites who might be interested, please drop me a line at davidkrenton[at]gmail.com. I should be able to get reviewers an electronic version this week, and hard copies pretty soon.

Here again is a post I’ve published before explaining why I wrote the book.

Lives; Running now available for pre-order from Bookmarks bookshop

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Many thanks to the good folk at Bookmarks the socialist bookshop, who are now taking pre-publication orders for Lives; Running. If you click on the link here, that will take you to the main Bookmarks page; from there  you can order the book by simply filling in the details in the “book search” box in the left column.

Zero have given the book a publication date of July 27; although the manuscript has already been sent to the printers, and I’m hoping to have copies in hand before then.

Do also get in contact with me at davidkrenton[at]gmail.com  if you’d be interested in having a review copy electronically in advance.

On being a middle-distance (not a long-distance) runner

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I have attached as the second half of this post, a short extract from my book. (For those who haven’t read the book; you will notice that the extract is exactly 200 words long. The book is written in short bursts of three paragraphs, all of this length).

One of the things I allude to in this extract, and in the book generally, is the psychology of the middle distance runner, which I argue is different from that of the long-distance runner. One of the purposes of my book is to explore the mind-set of the former; for while there are already lots of books about distance running (Murakumi, Sillitoe…), I’ve never before come across anything which explores why people run 800 or 1500 metres. The distance, I say, is important: Steve Ovett was as different a personality from Linford Christie, as either were from Ron Hill or Steve Jones.

Long-distance runners are light; middle-distance runners are heavier. Long-distance runners are remorseless; long distance runners are irrepressible. Long-distance runners set about their tasks (not just running) with stamina; middle-distance runners do so rather with energy and purpose. Once we reach our limit (whatever that is) we can go no further.

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I run because it is my personality, a trait so deep in me that if I leave it unexpressed, I feel a sense of frustration in everything I do. I see in my life the same traits that I exhibited as a middle-distance runner: a capacity different in its way from the short burst of the sprinter or the stamina of the long-distance runner.

My job requires me to assimilate quickly the life stories of my clients, fields of professional expertise, and even sometimes whole fresh disciplines of the law. I soak these up, absorb them, fire everything into the job immediately to hand. The case learned, and the advocacy performed, the task ends. I want nothing more to do with the case ever again. I have joined my profession late, in contrast to those who began in their early 20s, I will leave it without becoming a Judge or a QC. In a case, in my career, I lack the stamina of a long-distance runner, who can perform the same task in infinite repetitions. Unlike them, I rejoice when I stop.

With the same joy in creation and the same aversion to the necessary task of correction, I write.

Lives; running

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“I have raced along summer beaches and across frozen lakes. I have sprinted along canals and beside riverbanks. Once, I raced a friend around two laps of the largest outdoor swimming pool in Europe, the bathers lifting their legs upwards in an attempt to catch our trailing feet. I ran on the day of the worst storms the country had ever known, battling the wind on the way out, my fingers pointing out and up, my head ten degrees forwards of vertical. On the way back, I ran the same four miles even faster, jubilant at my speed, triumphing over nature. There were many victories.”

“I have run in joy, I have run in so many kinds of pain.”

“Today, the din of my feet on gravel is ponderously slow. I run slowly and without style, just like a dad dancing.”

Lives; running is the story of a running career.

Lives; running will be published by Zero Books in July 2012.