Running through My Mind: Confessions of an Every Day Runner
In 2007 I compiled 100,000 miles worth of running education and experience into an autobiography of sorts I titled Running through My Mind: Confessions of an Every Day Runner. To be perfectly honest the original subtitle was going to be A Quarter Century of Thinking on My Feet (I do my best writing in my head while I’m running), but when Dean Karnazes’ book Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All Night Runner was published I couldn’t help but make the change. I literally had run every single day since November 30, 1978. Besides, the book wasn’t quite ready after a quarter century of running. It took almost 29 years to finish writing my first book, something I had dreamed about doing even before I started with my consecutive-days running streak (I actually started running in the summer of 1978).
Here’s a brief outline of the book, solely to pique your interest and subliminally get you to check it out on Amazon.com (is it still subliminal if I spell it out for you? Regardless: DO IT!):
- How I became a runner (in the nick of time, no less as I was on the doorstep of John Candy-Land).
- How running became an addiction/obsession (decide for yourself).
- Streak running (running every day, not running naked…although I did that, too).
- Running competitively (At least as competitively as a non-genetically gifted runner can be. Genetically-gifted I was not, but competitive I sure as hell was. As you might imagine, this was a very humbling time in my life.).
- My evolution into marathons and my love/hate affair with 26.2 miles that led to...
- My evolution into ultra marathons and my love/hate affair with 31 miles, 50 miles and 100 miles.
- The How and Why Book of Beating Bovines to the Finish Line (perhaps fiction, perhaps not).
- The formation and evolution of the Darkside Running Club.
- My running partners through the years, including my beloved black lab Magic who had a streak of her own for several years.
- The crown jewel of my running career, the 2003 Badwater Ultramarathon (a 135 mile race through Death Valley and over three mountain ranges).
- My few successes and many failures at trail running that led to my ‘forced retirement’ from running off road.
- The aches and pains I accumulated after 29 years and 105,000 miles of running.
- The statistics I accumulated after 29 years and 105,000 miles of running.
The Foreword was written by my younger son Josh, a member of my crew at Badwater and quite the runner in his childhood days.
The cover photo is an oil painting Al Barker did for me after being inspired by serving on my support crew as we ran across Death Valley. Al’s impressive work of art is titled ‘Badwater 2003’ and to this day is proudly displayed in the center of Cindy and I’s bedroom as a constant reminder of our adventure in the summer of 2003.
The author photo is of me running in the 2006 Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. This particular race meant a lot to me as it started about 10 miles from my parents’ home in Chesapeake, Virginia. My dad passed away less than a month before this book was published. My mom passed away 24 days later. My mom had always encouraged me to write a book and I had high hopes she would hold a copy of my book in her hands one day. Ironically my author copy was delivered on the day I buried my mom. While she never had the chance to hold the book in her hands, she took it with her to read in heaven.
As for the reviews, here are two with diabolically opposed viewpoints of the book. First the one written by the ‘good cop:’
I was recommended this book and I thought, "Great, ANOTHER running book. I hate books about running. They're all the same. Run more, eat better, try this, try that."
But I was about to drive down to Disney for a marathon, and thought at the very least I could flip through it in the car, and maybe get a couple one-liners of inspiration.
Boy was I wrong.
I read the first half on the way down, and the second half on the way back.
If you can appreciate dry humor and benevolent sarcasm then this book is a real treat.
Scott Ludwig is that guy in line behind you at the supermarket, who strikes up a conversation, and just talks to you. He doesn't brag, he doesn't preach, he doesn't coach, he doesn't teach. He just talks. In this case he was talking to me.
Everything everyone has said is true. Take it to heart. This man is an incredible runner, a humorous writer, and an interesting story teller.
Treat yourself, and let him talk to you.
Now for the one written by the ‘bad cop:’
An ultra runner with an ultra ego.
While at times amusing and entertaining, the author's primary goal is to remind the reader (over and over) that he has run more miles, marathons, days in a row, etc., than anyone dumb enough to purchase this book thinking they will get any solid running advice or inspiration.
The scope of the author's running career is exceeded only by his expectation that anyone cares.
If you know me, you know I always do my very best to have the final word. In this particular case I had a few of them.
I just read the 2-star review (the reviewer gave it 2 out of 5 stars on Amazon) about my alleged 'ultra ego.' To be quite honest, I documented a lot of statistics more as a historical reference point for generations to come--including my two sons and at this time one grandson. I won't be around forever, but I wanted to make sure I had a 'place in history,' whether the reader finds it significant or less-than-significant. Personally, I'm proud of what I've done. In hindsight, I wish I had placed all of the statistics in an appendix at the end of the book. However, I was trying to beat a self-imposed deadline by finishing the book before I lost my parents (they always wanted me to write a book). In a tragic twist of fate, the book was published the day I had to tell my mother (who had been in and out of a coma for three weeks) that my father--her husband had passed away a couple weeks earlier. One week later my mother passed. Ironically, I received the author copy of my first book in the mail the day of my parents' joint funeral. I spoke at the ceremony, and the book was buried with my mother. Sure, I would have liked to have more time to proof read the manuscript a few more times, but I knew time was running out.
So, using the phrase 'ultra ego' to describe me is far from the truth. Proud of what I've done? Yes. Egotistical? Not in the least. There are many runners all over the world who's numbers, performances, etc. dwarf anything I've ever done, or anything I've even THOUGHT about doing, for that matter. I know that, and I talk about that in the book.
At least the book wasn't rated as a one-star...
I have to think this particular person merely flipped through the book. Had he actually read it, he would see that he missed my point entirely. It’s times like this that I have to remember that opinions are like a**holes: everyone has one.
Read the book, and then judge for yourself.
The cover is a sculpture, ‘Marathon Man’ made by the amazing Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. The author photo is of my dad and I taken at my parents’ surprise 50th anniversary party in 2002; it is the best—and last photo of the two of us ever taken.
A Passion for Running: Portraits of the Every Day Runner
In 2009 my second book A Passion for Running: Portraits of the Everyday Runner was published. The book chronicles the amazing stories of 18 runners I had grown to know, respect and admire during my first three decades in the sport. Each of them has their own unique story to tell: how running became a part of their lives; their individual approaches to the physical, psychological and emotional demands of running; and their special advice and insight into the sport. Among those you will meet are Bobbi, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon during a time when ‘women weren’t capable of running more than 1 ½ miles’ and Lloyd, a beginning runner at age 59 and holder of various age group records once he reached the ages of 70, 75, 80 and 85.
Some other people you’ll meet in this book include:
- Anne, a couch potato at 40 and 100-mile runner a little over a decade later.
- Elizabeth, legally blind yet regularly completing runs of 50 and 100 miles (the latter with the assistance and guidance of her husband Jeff, also a very fine runner).
- Kelly, who was first across the finish line in the first four 50-kilometer races she ever ran.
- Janice, the holder of countless ultra running records and a major player in the promotion in the world of long distance running.
- Sarah, the overall winner of the 2007 Arrowhead 135-mile race in frigid International Falls, Minnesota.
- Bob, setting age group records well into his 50’s with no apparent signs of slowing down anytime soon.
- Gary, a good friend who was on my crew at Badwater in 2003 and just so happens to be one very talented runner, race director, writer and spokesperson for the sport of running.
- Jerry, who ran 200 marathons in the year 2000 due to a momentary lapse in judgment…and because he was talented enough to do it.
- Al, the only man I know with a sub-five minute mile, a sub-three hour marathon, 100 lifetime marathons and a 100-mile run finish in less than 24 hours.
The book is dedicated ‘To mom and dad, who worried I might run with the wrong crowd. I didn’t.’
The Foreword was written by Al Barker, who happens to be not only Chapter 18, but my closest running partner and friend and the person responsible for the title of the book.
I always referred to my first book as a labor of love. This book was a labor of passion. It was my great honor writing about some true-to-life heroes and ambassador of our sport.
As for reviews, I’m proud to report every one I’ve seen has been favorable. Here’s one intended to get you back on Amazon.com real soon:
As I browse the shelves of my local bookstore I see maybe 50 books on running. Amazingly, the vast majority are the typical 'how to' books. How to run your fastest 5K. Fastest marathon. Speed work, long runs, intervals. They all seem to want to tell us how to be better at our sport, but have you ever noticed that they never seem to agree on anything? There's got to be something more interesting on the subject of running.
Well, it's here. The author has found a fresh new approach. Eighteen runners are profiled, a chapter devoted to each one of them. An equal mixture of men and women, each one has a unique story to tell. What's it like to be the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon? Or to be the first legally blind woman to finish a 100-mile ultra? These are stories of real passion, a quality that each one of them shares. The chapters include background information as well as little vignettes written by both the subjects and the author. They are very personal accounts-- glimpses into the lives and minds of some very interesting people.
Most readers will discover that these subjects are just ordinary folks. Many will say "Hey, I could be like they are if I tried." Inspiration at its best!
The book ends with chapters devoted to four people who were very close to me and had recently crossed the Eternal Finish Line: Betty Mae Burrell (in a chapter titled ‘Heaven’s Aid Station,’ a testamonial one of the greatest volunteers ultra running has ever known), Bill McBride (‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ a tribute to one of my very first mentors in running), my dad (‘Running at Altitude,’ describing how I felt when I lost the man who raised me) and my mom (‘Lifelines and Deadlines,’ chronicling my rush to publish my first book so my mom would be able to hold it in her hands before she was gone).
If you’re looking for a book to inspire you to run, this would be it. I know 18 people who have my back on this one.
You should get to know them.
A Few Degrees from Hell: White Hot Tales from the Badwater Ultramarathon
My third book, A Few Degrees from Hell: The 2003 Badwater Ultramarathon was published in 2010. Badwater, as it is known in the world of ultra running is touted as ‘the toughest footrace on the planet.’ The book chronicles the stories of 25 runners who competed in arguably the absolute toughest Badwater ever as they faced covering the 135 miles between Badwater and the portals of Mount Whitney. Their journeys would take them through the hostile environment of Death Valley and subjecting them to temperatures ranking among the highest ever recorded on earth.
Defending champion Pam Reed, Dean Karnazes, Badwater legend Marshall Ulrich and 22 other competitors (including yours truly) tell of their adventures and experiences which included tales of heat exhaustion, dehydration, nausea, blisters, hallucinations, fatigue and ultimately success…or in some cases failure.
The rights to the book were acquired by Meyer and Meyer Publishing (they are responsible for the long line of books by Jeff Galloway) in 2013 and republished under the title A Few Degrees from Hell: White Hot Tales from the Badwater Ultramarathon.
The book is dedicated ‘For those with the passion to pursue their dreams…’
I was honored to have the Foreword written by Al Arnold, the first person to successfully trek from Badwater, Death Valley (the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere) to Mount Whitney Summit (the highest elevation in the contiguous United States), a route covering 200 miles with a total vertical elevation of 25,000 feet. His journey took 84 hours. In 2002 Al Arnold was the first inductee in the Badwater Hall of Fame.
The cover of the book was a photograph of fellow Badwater competitor Luis Escobar running through the desert with Mount Whitney in the distance.
The author photo was me wearing a Florida Gator blue polo shirt standing next to my Florida Gator blue truck that once belonged to my dad. On the back window is an oval ‘134.4’ decal, representing the actual distance in miles of the Badwater Ultramarathon. I had several made just for the occasion and have sent one to every Badwater finisher from the southeastern United States since 2004.
Another book with favorable reviews, here’s one to give you an idea as to what’s in store:
I could not put this book down and consider it one of the best books I've read to date. I am struggling to find other books on running that are as engaging as this one. This book had me totally inspired and motivated to put on my shoes and run... not to the extent that these people do, but it was so interesting getting an insight into the mindset of such mentally strong athletes. I am shortly heading off on a trip to the States and Death Valley is one of the places I have decided to visit and stay thanks to this book. On the top of my to-do list during my visit is to run a few miles of Badwater!
See you all in Death Valley real soon!
The author photos: me finishing one of my all-time favorite races, the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic and Vanessa pausing for the camera during a run on one of her favorite trails on Ruffner Mountain.
In It for the Long Run: A Decade with the Darkside Running Club
My fourth book, co-authored with the talented Vanessa Stroud of Birmingham, Alabama was published in 2012. In It for the Long Run: A Decade with the Darkside Running Club is a history of the club founded in 2002 by Al Barker and myself.
As Vanessa so eloquently states on the back cover, the Darkside Running Club ‘is a place where runners meet to express their love for distance running and camaraderie by spending countless hours and miles committed to doing what they enjoy most. They share a singular focus towards achieving goals far off in the distance, both literally and figuratively. With their dedication and commitment you may believe the Darksider to be a professional athlete, or perhaps an Olympian. But you would be wrong: they are simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the sport they love: running.’
The book chronicles the history of the club: how it came to be, the guiding principles and the absolute no-no’s for membership. Also included is a history of the club’s annual events (Peachtree City 50/25K, Darkside 8-Hour Run and the Free Marathon Series) and annual awards (Best in Performance, Mama Betty and Forever Young for the outstanding runner, volunteer and over-50 runner of the year).
The first decade of the club is detailed by the members themselves, discussing in their own words their running adventures and experiences that any runner would appreciate and enjoy, including: the Boston Marathon, the JFK 50-Miler, the Western States Endurance Run, the Badwater Ultramarathon, Across the Years 72-Hour Run and the Comrades Marathon, to name a few.
The cover of the book is a drawing by 10-year old Nathanial Yang, a talented illustrator and the son of a former work colleague of mine, Yenny Darmajaya.
The author photos: me finishing one of my all-time favorite races, the Tallahassee Ultra Distance Classic and Vanessa pausing for the camera during a run on one of her favorite trails on Ruffner Mountain.
The book offers two Forewords, one by me and one by Vanessa…the way God intended.
The book is dedicated ‘For Angela Ivory, running’s number one ambassador’ (Angela lost her battle with breast cancer in 2012). ‘Her (Angela’s) smile will be missed on the roads and trails, but her spirit will always be in our hearts.’
The reviews have been very positive and supportive, such as this one:
I've ordered and read all of Scott's books and I've gotta say I'm tremendously satisfied with all his work. He (and in this case, Vanessa) is a friendly, down to earth writer that really brings to life the positive side to running, and manages to motivate you to get out the door for another few miles. In this book, specifically, you can feel the camaraderie, humor and good vibes that must reign in the Darkside running club, the group of adventurers that make up the bulk of the stories. I'm sure you'll like them (as I did) regardless of your running ability. Make sure you check out this streak runner's other titles too, he's a man that loves and lives the sport!
I encourage you to cross over to the Darkside. You won’t be sorry.
But if you are, it might be the best ‘sorry’ you’ve ever felt.
Distance Memories: Reflections of a Life on the Run
My fifth book, Distance Memories: Reflections of a Life on the Run was published in 2013. If I had to categorize it I would call it a memoir, as it is a compilation of the experience, wisdom and insight gained from running for almost 35 years and running more than 130,000 miles. My wife Cindy calls it my best work yet, which I find a bit of a stretch seeing how she’s only read my first book and half of my second.
But having written all five books and proofreading them all several times, I’m inclined to agree with her. I essentially bare my heart and soul in this book, making sure I acknowledge just how much running has meant to me in my life, and taking the time to explain how.
Some of the chapters include my life in Gainesville, Florida as a college student, a newlywed and ultimately a runner; the impact that Virginia Beach had on my life; how turning 50 changed me physically, mentally and psychologically; and how completing my lifetime bucket list of running events literally became a matter of life and death. Virtually a lifetime of running memories is captured within the covers of the book.
The cover of the book is me running in Garmisch, Germany in the fall of 2011 while vacationing with Cindy and our good friends Chuck and Jan. I was out for an early morning run through the countryside and was carrying my camera with me—just in case. Well, ‘just in case’ happened when I was enjoying what I consider my ‘rave run’ when I met up with a small German lady on a bicycle. She couldn’t speak a word of English but she did understand my nonverbal cues as to what I was asking of her…and she took the most magnificent photograph I could have ever dreamed of.
The author photo was taken during that same run. I stopped to take a photo of myself in the countryside with the cows in the background when, just as I snapped the photo a cow head-butted me in my side, resulting in the what-the-hell expression on my face.
I wrote the Foreword; I believed it to be appropriate as this may well be the last book I write about my personal experiences as a runner.
The book is dedicated ‘To Cindy, who has been with me every step of the way.’ If you’ve read any (or all!) of my books, I know you understand.
The early reviews have been favorable, including this one:
This is not only the best book By Scott Ludwig of his Fantastic Five, but it's also the best book about running I've ever read! This is my 37th year of running and my 60th year of reading! One of the best of the bountiful reasons is the way that he "speaks" directly to the reader! It's as if he was simply chatting away while the two of you were removing shoes after a lovingly long run! Enjoy that chat!
Comments like this are the reason I write. I don’t intend to stop anytime soon.
My Life: Everything but BUY THE BOOK!
Last year I had the idea of recording the best and the worst things that happened to me every day for an entire calendar year. ‘If I’m going to be writing every day,’ I thought, ‘why not simply WRITE EVERY DAY?’ So I’ve been doing just that, every day since January 1, 2013. The first 181 days (chapters) that conclude on June 30 are featured in My Life: Everything but BUY THE BOOK! (Part 1 of 2). Part 2 or 2 will follow along about six months from now and feature the final 184 days of the year.
‘So,’ you’re wondering to yourself, ‘what on earth could the book possibly be about?’
I’m glad you asked.
Every day features a small vignette of what ran through my mind on that particular day. It could be based on a real event: something that happened to me personally, or someone close to me, or something on a national level and occasionally even on an international level. It could be based on something that happened on that particular day in my life or in some cases, history. It could be something that made me laugh, or inspired or excited me, or motivated me or frustrated me and in some cases, what pi*ed me off. Whatever the case may be I thought it worthy to put it down on paper.
*I use the word ‘vignette’ to describe a chapter because even if you don’t appreciate it’s literary use, it also sounds like a French pastry and just might appeal to a potential reader
on another level.
I’ve given out a few copies of the book to test the waters, so to speak. From what I’ve gotten back from the members of my test audience, they all agree on one thing: The book is a real page-turner. Each chapter, ranging in length from one to three pages is just the right length when you’ve got a few minutes to spare. Whether it be with your morning coffee, during your ‘morning ritual’ or right before you turn off your bedside reading light and call it a day, the book is just what you need for those few minutes of ‘me time.’
Each vignette has a purpose. It might be to touch your heart. It might be to get your blood boiling. In most cases it’s simply to put a smile on your face.
If you’ve been enjoying the blogs found on www.scottludwigrunsandwrites.blogspot.com, I feel comfortable saying you’ll enjoy this book.