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Review: Chasing the Runner’s High by Ray Charbonneau

If there’s one thing Ray Charbonneau understands, it is runners. In Chasing the Runner’s High he may claim that he isn’t sure what a typical runner is, but if the proof is in the pudding, not only is Charbonneau a true blue, died in the wool, run in the sun, rain or snow runner, but he talks the runner’s language. And it sounds like heaven.

At least it does until you remember how hard it is to get yourself out the door after bout of laziness during the holidays.

I picked up Charbonneau’s “Chasing the Runner’s High” sometime before the weather turned from an autumn cool—perfect for running outside—to a chill winter freeze, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees. Suddenly, as I flipped the pages, I found myself noticing runners who were braving the weather to keep the habit up. I found phrases and anecdotes from “Chasing the Runner’s High” drifting through my mind as I took a shortcut to work through a quiet neighborhood and found myself alongside a trail through the woods. Charbonneau had hit on all the right notes, resonating with me, and reminding me of why I loved, and still love, to run. (Unlike Charbonneau, I’m not quite gutsy enough to run through injuries, which I’m working through right now).

Even in recognizing the solo nature of the sport, Charbonneau is also cognizant of the community and bond between runners, not to mention the struggles and discipline that must come with a consistent running schedule. Yes, it’s an addition, but running is still hard work. Finding that community of runners lends itself to beating the odds and pushing yourself out the door even on those days when running really doesn’t seem all that easy.

That’s when it struck me—running really is a drug. Once you have felt the flow of juices that come when you finally hit that distance necessary to get the endorphins to kick in, there’s no turning back. You’ll get the bug. It’s clear that Charbonneau has it, and it’s clear he understands the addition, too, or at least is trying to understand. In that way, “Chasing the Runners High” may be as much a therapy as anything else. It is his experience and history with running, as close as one could get to a memoir of the sport—if a sport is what we could call it.

Remembering that it is a memoir is key. Even though the book is broken up into chapters that cover different aspects of running, from shoes and clothes to injuries and ultras, Charbonneau fills the book with more personal experiences than direction and advice. If you are looking for guidance on getting started on running, or how to run better, Chasing the Runner’s High is an excellent companion reader. However, skip straight to the appendix clearly labeled as “Advice for the New Runner.” In easy, conversational language, Charbonneau walks the beginner through getting the right shoes and how to get started. I’ve been running since elementary school, but I’ve never found a more reassuring and thorough introduction. Put him in the room with me, and it could not have been more helpful.

Indeed, if you pick up and read Chasing the Runner’s High for no other reason than the appendix it will be enough. Add the rest of Charbonneau’s many anecdotes, and you have an inspiring memoir of the addiction, a reminder of why we run, not to mention a therapy group for addicts.

Pick it up today. And then schedule your next run.

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Chasing the Runner’s High.com