Reading Chester County author and runner Chris Cooper’s Long May You Run (Touchstone, 2010) is like chatting with a wiser, more experienced older brother—who happens to know a ton about running (Cooper is a sub-three-hour marathoner whose running resume includes winning several road races and finishing the Boston Marathon. He also blogs about running at Writing on the Run).
The text is a pastiche of running know-how (like tips for buying the right pair of shoes for your foot type and how to run comfortably while pushing your tot in the stroller), motivational quotes from elite runners, spotlights on quirky running lore, and shout-outs for great races throughout the country and around the world. The best parts are the sections that cover non-running activities: where to donate unwanted race t-shirts; reasons to volunteer at races; races you should not run, but watch (the Olympic trials, the Penn Relays). Cooper devotes a single page to each topic, making his book the sort you could pick up every now and then when you want a new way to spice up your running life. The sum total of his advice is this: More than just exercise, running is a means of enriching one’s whole life, and there are plenty of ways—he counts almost 200—to keep your relationship with running fresh and rewarding.
Our only gripe: The book’s plain white pages with lackluster teal accents and a very occasional graphic left us wanting more from a design point of view. Cooper talks about so many gorgeous races and places, from Valley Forge to the Champs-Élysées, and photographs would have ramped up the visual interest enough to put this book on our Christmas wish list.