"Running Home" by Katie Arnold

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9780425284650

"The act of running implies distance and direction - are we running away from, or towards something? 'Running Home', a memoir by ultrarunning champion Katie Arnold is the first book about the sport that to me tackles both directions - the journey outwards, and the return. Arnold's father was a National Geographic photographer whose death from cancer nurtures a deep reconciliation for the author in understanding the choices we make, and the paths and steps that one after another mark and map our journeys. As Arnold excavates her father's basement study, endless files of photographs and meticulously conserved correspondences and tape recordings, she gradually pieces together a portait of the man she knew intimately who was yet at the same time a singular individual apart from his children and partners. A parent herself, Arnold struggles to find this balance between the self that is bound by blood and relationship with the autonomous drive that moves us all and herself in the direction of the trail. She shares these questions with friend, mentor and Buddhist practitioner Natalie Goldberg on long walks in the Santa Fe area where they both live, Arnold's scattered questions and Goldberg's simplistic answers a regular ritual between the two. Time is a precious commodity to Arnold, encompassing a balance between miles and miles of seemingly everlasting solitude in the wilderness and the harmony her heart finds when she returns home to her daughters and husband. This is more than a book about running, although wonderful stories about her training runs, races, and evocations of the high desert landscape abide... The running is more of a driving narrative for Arnold that holds space for the questions and depth of soul that is uncovered by experiencing both grief and profound love. This is a memoir written by someone capable of gazing into a mirror humbly, endearingly flinching in her humanity, while learning the combinatory play of navigating both our inner lives and the roles we fulfill in the greater world. The strength, resilience, and humor offered in these pages are sure to reawaken readers to finding the gratitude present admist the nitty gritty ebb and flow of our daily living." ~Julia