Note: Mystical Miles is not a “how to” book, it has no training schedules or methods, programs to achieve targets. Always practical with hints and observations drawn from the author’s learnings, the book is about more than the “hows” of running – it talks of the what, why and what else of running.
The book is presented as 11 chapters, complete with Foreword by Netherlands Olympic athlete, Hans Koeleman, Preface, Introduction and Post-script
Chapter 1 Beginnings talks about starting the running journey, some of the difficulties and ways of overcoming them, and then of what they lead to. The stories of beginning have an underlying reverence for the struggles because of what they enable and without going through them none of the marvels running brings would be possible. This is probably the chapter with the most practical content reflecting the practical, physical nature of running especially the earliest days, and how even when runners may feel they are making little progress, the first signs of the the marvels which lie ahead, already begin to glitter.
Chapter 2 Deeper Healings tells of the the changes running brings about at a physical and emotional level, and then at deeper levels. It’s a process that starts early in running and the following chapters can all be seen as part of this theme. Among the changes are those of resilience and responsiveness that allow runners to engage more fully with life and to build the courage to face the challenges of life.
Chapter 3 Nature tells stories of the effects of ongoing encounters with dolphins, rainbows, thunderstorms, sunrises, owls and more. It explores the author’s relationship to nature – his unfolding grasp nature from the grass brushing his legs to the furthest reaches of the universe. It explores his separation from nature, running into itand becoming part of it.
Chapter 4 Racing is about the physical racing describing long and short races, it talks about what racing can mean, and outlines mind in racing and a discussion on mental strength. This chapter talks to the benefits of engaging, persisting and enduring and what they release. It talks about the rewards of racing and some of the requirements including thoughts about role of mind in racing and of mental strength and toughness.
Chapter 5 Rituals, rites and ceremonies talks about rituals, rites and ceremonies, their power, how they lose their meaning, and then how running taps into their power; and how running adds to their meaning when its exuberance and physicality tempers. Allowed to running becomes a ritual of life, of friendship and aging , its rites prepare and take us through life changes and its ceremonies celebrate of life, its possibilities and opportunities and the essences running extracts from it.
Chapter 6 Running Art describes the way running can deepen perceptions; how running can create ever-richer, fuller, satisfying experiences from its terrains, weather, emotions, endurance, stars, understanding, waterfalls and more. It describes too, run-enabled responsiveness to the way the world looks and functions.
Mystical Miles is never prescriptive. It has no “do this in this way”. It shows what running did for one person. The richness of running is what it does for each runner when allowed to.
Chapter 7: Running far explores one of the of essences of running – running out of the everyday world, comforts, fusses and demands; physical hours exploring the world, life, mind, memories, their meaning and value; later easing back into the ordinary world richer, fuller, eager for more, after a sleep.
Chapter 8 Philosophy discusses the meaning and value of running; talks about how to talk about running, the conceptual frameworks in which we talk about running and the pokes into the limits of language. By extension it does the same for the frameworks in which we talk about life, suggesting that there is value in reviewing them too.
“Without a sense of humour, a lightness of mind, I wouldn’t have been able to run the longer runs”
Chapter 9 Hopping Zen Running looks a running from a zen, a chan perspective, or maybe not: this chapter is about mind in running, the shifting perspectives brought about by a run-emptied, maybe exhausted, focused, quietened mind, and what happens in allowing run-realities just as they are, to emerge and shape self, life, understanding.
Chapter 10 Dark Nights looks at some challenges, mostly inner, runners face – not just the injuries or the frustrations of not being able to run; also running too much, wanting or needing too much from running. It also tells of the way running can heal itself, bring light to this darkness; even build courage for the challenges of life.
Chapter 11 Mystical Miles tells, through stories of three runs, of a life lifted, the the accumulations and lessons of running, into a richer, deeper realm: a short run, a run of a couple of hours; and a mystical account of running a 10 km circuit 100 miler. These are stories of a runner engaging the greater gears of life …
In one way Mystical Miles is a book like any other: chapters, thoughts and ideas presented in a sequence moving from beginning to end. Readers are invited in the introduction to sample chapters that might be of interest. The chapters aren’t dependent on the sequence in which they are presented, Each chapter is perhaps a facet of the running jewel.