Chapter 32/ The Interval Workout

Excerpt From: John L. Parker. “Once a Runner.” Simon and Schuster

“Bruce, you can’t be serious. Nobody does that kind of stuff anymore. Arthur Lydiard—”
“Screw Arthur Lydiard. Quenton, this is where you find out. This is the time and place. All the rest is window dressing.”

“I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Quenton.” He smiled for the first time all day. “You can do very nearly anything. Haven’t you figured that out?”


“Look, runners deal in discomfort. After you get past a certain point, that’s all there really is. There is no finesse here. I know you can do this thing because I once did it myself and when it was over I knew some very important things.”

Excerpt From: John L. Parker. “Once a Runner.”

“And they began it all again. In their minds they took up each set separately, as if it were all they had to do. Five little quarter-mile circuits to be conquered, a mile and a quarter of hard running interspersed with those nearly cruel bits of rest, each quarter becoming in its own way a milestone, a feared and adamant obstacle that had to be dominated and put away so that its brother, now looming, could be faced.”

Excerpt From: John L. Parker. “Once a Runner.” 

“He finished number seven, somehow running it too hard, which caused him to take deep and painful gasps and to spend a few seconds bent over grasping his knees before beginning his weak jog on to number eight (in his mind number three, and after that only two to go—beyond that he did not think). It was becoming harder and harder to get his breathing anywhere near normal in the 110-yard rest jog; he was starting the next interval gasping as if he had not stopped at all. Into the next one he charged, down the straight, around the turn, by a pine tree slashed in half by lightning (that to him meant only the halfway point), into the last turn, and then the last fifty yards of straightaway, legs, arms, shoulders, jawbone, ears, chest, fingers, all battling the strained numb pain of the lactic acid, all striving for that normality of motion that would preserve”

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