Introduction

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners

Introduction

When all else fails, start running.
~Dean Karnazes

I got sick of living the life that everybody told me I should be living, so one day I decided to start living life on my own terms. Frustrated with my job, I found myself in a bar on the eve of my 30th birthday preparing to drink the night away. Instead, I walked out at 11:00 PM, and just started running… and running and running. I hadn’t run in the past decade, and that fateful evening I ran thirty miles non-stop straight through the night. That single inspired (okay, some may say crazy) act forever changed the course of my life.

Ironically, it was my boss who provided the impetus for this departure. Perhaps a bit ahead of her time, she took particular interest in her employees’ overall satisfaction instead of only monitoring workplace performance. She gave each of us a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul and encouraged us to read a story or two. I was intrigued. This was not your typical business-related book!

Many of my colleagues would hit the bars after a tough day at work. My boss would instead curl up and read some inspirational anecdotes in her book. Me, I started running as a way to decompress.

But I also started reading. Interestingly enough, I found many similarities between the two; Chicken Soup for the Soul and running both nourished my inner spirit. They complemented each other perfectly!

The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is a collection of uplifting and energizing short stories. The concept is simple, yet powerful. Running, too, is simple, yet powerful. By its very nature, running is a moving experience, both literally and figuratively!

As any athlete can attest, running conditions the body. The stories I started reading daily in Chicken Soup for the Soul were perfect cross-training for the soul. When I was feeling lazy or unmotivated, reading a stirring and heartwarming story reinvigorated my sense of passion and commitment, and off I’d go on a run!

Apparently, I’m not the only one who finds this to be the case. Since its initial release back in 1993, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making it one of the bestselling books of all time. And there are now more than 200 titles in circulation. Clearly, we humans are social animals and reading about others overcoming incredible adversity and living life to its fullest empowers us to do the same. When I learned about this new Chicken Soup for the Soul title dedicated entirely to runners, I was supremely honored when asked to be a part it!

Since walking out of that bar on the eve of my 30th birthday and running off into the night, my life has been completely transformed. I decided to make my passion for running my vocation. I had no idea how I was going to do this, but I just figured if I followed my heart and did what I loved, I could somehow make a go of it. If nothing else, I’d certainly be a lot happier than if I continued going to work every day in a job I didn’t enjoy.

Of course, it was a terrifying leap of faith to trust my instincts. I would be giving up the plush corner office, the corporate perks, healthcare coverage, the 401K matching program, etc… How would I live without these things?

I’ll never forget telling my wife, Julie, about my decision to leave the corporate world. Her response to me was revealing. “Well,” she said, “I was wondering how long it would take you.” With that kind of support and encouragement, there was no turning back!

It’s been a wild run ever since. I’ve been able to travel the globe, often taking Julie and our two great kids along for the ride. We’ve seen some of the most exotic places on Earth, and met some of the most remarkable people along the way. I’ve participated in hundreds of marathons and ultramarathons in just about every imaginable setting, from the blazing summertime heat of Death Valley to the frigid cold of the South Pole. Life’s become an amazing adventure, and it just keeps getting better every day!

I’ve come to believe that enthusiasm flows from doing what you’re passionate about. It’s so exciting to see people learn about my story and watch them get excited too. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined making TIME magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World” list. But there was my name, at number 27 no less! What this illustrated to me was that my message of following your heart and living life with passion and purpose resonated strongly with a lot of people.

I share my personal story with you not to be boastful, but to provide you with the conviction that you, too, can steer your life in any direction you so desire. Sometimes all it takes is that spark of inspiration to ignite a burning passion within!

Which brings me back to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners. In this book you will find a wide collection of authors, from elite Olympians to casual joggers, all with the same intention, to provide you with a ray of hope that life can indeed be a fantastic and fulfilling journey.

There’s something undeniably empowering about reading stories of others who have brushed aside their fears and taken great risks to be all that they can be. To read firsthand about the trials, tribulations, hardships and setbacks others have faced is emotionally rousing. To see the grit, determination and perseverance they have displayed in pursuing their dreams is deeply stirring. These amazing stories provide, dare I say it, nourishment for the soul.

If reading this book motivates you to lace up your running shoes and head out the door, I say go with it! My hope is that Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners will inspire you to be the very best that you can be, whether you run great distances, modest distances, or not at all. A life worth living is meant to be an impassioned journey, one in which we continue to explore, learn and expand our potential each and every day. I encourage you to find your edge, and then take a step beyond it. This stride into the unknown is where true discovery begins. I wish you the very best of luck on your journey!

With that said, I’m off for a run.

Catch ya down the road…
 ~Dean

 

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