Reading author Kristin Armstrong’s “Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run” was like one of my morning jogs: I started out hating it, then began warming up to it, and when I was done, I felt so much better for sticking with it.
Armstrong, a contributing editor at one of my favorite magazines Runner’s World, came out with “Mile Markers” in 2011. It’s a compilation of her Mile Markers blog entries, arranged thematically. It’s easy to read (I read most of it on the stepmill at the gym) because of the bite-sized chunks, but make no mistake, some of her morsels are like steak — they require chewing on and savoring.
If you’re a runner, you can appreciate how some aspect of running can be used as a metaphor for almost everything in life (including a book review, see above). If you run, even a little, you’ll appreciate the depth of this book. If you’re a woman, you’ll like it even more.
Some of her early chapters are “Friendship,” “Play,” “Mothers” and “Kids.” These were my least favorite entries because A. I run alone and B. I’m not a biological mother (and even as a stepmother, I never cared for little kids). Mothering is not my thing. But if it’s your thing, you might appreciate these chapters more than I did.
I liked Armstrong’s thoughts on “Body,” “Freedom, “Purpose” and “Passion” among others. Here’s an excerpt on peace, written in the list style with which Armstrong excels:
“Peace can be as elusive as love when we pursue it with ravenous need. We need to ease into it, recognize it, cajole it, make space for it, and welcome it. Most of us, most of the time, go through life with a vague restlessness, a lack of peace that goes unnamed and unresolved. …
“Some of us find peace through cultivating stillness. Others have to work our way there through movement. Some need silence. Others need the right kind of noise. Some need to be alone. Other need to be with specific people. Some need to cloister themselves inside. Other will never find it unless they are out in nature. What you need isn’t nearly as important as knowing what you need.”
Besides her writing style, I also liked how she organized her book. Her blog entries might be disparate if read chronologically, but arranged thematically, they sing. She finds 26 themes relating to running and an epilogue — a beautiful tribute to the marathon distance.
“Mile Markers” inspires. Even though I have no intention of running another marathon, Armstrong made me want to run harder and faster and sweatier. And be completely immersed while I do it.