Run down to Danville sports shop to catch fitness author Pete Magill
By Lou Fancher
Runners run and readers read for all sorts of entertaining reasons, but they don't always do either activity as well as they might. For optimum performance, a person could throw caution to the wind and rely on instinct -- or benefit from the guidance of a team. Or both, as it turns out.
An all-star expert trio is lined up for a free book event Wednesday at Forward Motion Sports in downtown Danville. The team is composed of 55-year-old Pete Magill, a Southern California author, columnist, multiaward-winning runner and the fastest-ever American distance runner older than 50 in the 5K and 10K; Marty Breen, owner of the 22-year-old Danville running goods store and chief instigator of the shop's 19-year-old "Wednesday Night Run;" and Michael Barnard, owner of 21-year-old Rakestraw Books and a self-professed "very-slow-but-steady-rabbit" runner.
They will lead people prone to dress in spandex and travel on foot -- shod in premium or bargain brand shoes, everyone's welcome -- on a run beginning at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, a book talk and signing will feature Magill's new book, which bears the appropriately long-winded title, "The Born Again Runner: A Guide to Overcoming Excuses, Injuries and Other Obstacles -- for New and Returning Runners."
Breen says that he was familiar with Magill's record-setting reputation as a running coach and his Running Times magazine columns, but the new book hadn't crossed his radar until Barnard approached him about co-hosting an event. "Michael had researched him. He likes to tie books with running because he's done half-marathons, gets out on the trails, races all the time."
With the picture of Barnard, an avowed bookie, quickly dissolving from a human form permanently curled around a novel and instead projecting an image of a gazelle-like creature clutching Aesop's "The Tortoise and the Hare" while pelting down a trail, Barnard says, "I've been running with Forward Motion for more than 10 years, so it was a very natural collaboration."
The run will follow the Wednesday night club's usual IronHorse Trail route.
"We go from the store to railroad to train station, then onto the trail," says Breen. "People can go from a quarter-mile to 10 miles, depending on where they turn around."
Back at the store by 7:15, nonrunners and the sweaty folks who've purchased a copy of the book are eligible for a raffle.
"It's a free pair of shoes, any model, winner's choice," says Breen.
Barnard says interest in the event is strong, particularly from teams and coaching groups seeking inspiration from Magill's story and advice from an expert.
"Born Again Runner" tells how the then 38-year-old Magill pushed his overweight, nicotine-, drug-, junk food- and alcohol-filled body out the door and into a life of running and good health.
Briefly sharing his biography in the introduction, the 304-page book shifts into high gear with tips busting myths that prevent people from running; common sense and scientifically supported advice about training; and action plans for lifelong running (or walking), proper nutrition and more. Interspersed, runner profiles expand the narrative, and photo illustrations clarify instructions related to injury-prevention and strength-building exercises.
Unlike his first book, "Build Your Running Body," written with co-authors Melissa Breyer and Tom Schwartz and focused on advanced physiological principles of training and his knowledge as a record-holding masters runner and coach, Magill's second book is populist. Beginning runners and people who want to run, but value time to read, will appreciate the book's casual tone and suggestions to carve out a runner's path that fits their chosen lifestyle.
Of course, personal preference is where packs of runners -- and readers -- diverge. Breen says that although close to 80 people attended the last run/read event the store hosted with ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, each runner arrived with unique skill sets.
"Today's consumer is so knowledgeable, we just have to reassure them that what they read on the Internet is correct. Even so, they still think real runners are supernatural people. We tell them 20 miles a week is a ton, taper down, go out every other day."
Barnard limits himself to one suggestion: If you're going to run and read at the same time, a rarity, please choose from the best. A friend of his, he says, "has listened to a huge number of classics, ranging from 'The Odyssey' to 'Great Expectations.'" Leave it to a bibliophile to suggest the perfect titles for a run, or a good read.