Running with the Karamazovs

Running is  a lonely boring pursuit any time it gets above 25-30 minutes. There are many ways that we try to make it less so. We have our iPods and we have our playlists. Powerlists -- songs to boost our energy. Specially designed playlists to suit our pace, to cheer us up, buck us up or simply wake us up.

As I started preparing for a half-marathon about two months ago. I knew that music isn't going to cut it for me. I didn't need to get involved in the run. I needed to run away from it. I needed to forget that I was running. Half-marathon preps can be long. Up to 5 hours a week or sometimes even more. Now that is a lot of time to spend listening to just music. Since I was running outside and not on a treadmill, TV wasn't an option, at least not easily.

That's when I re-discovered the wonderful world of Audiobooks on the iPods. Yes, audiobooks made an almost perfect companion for my runs. And not just any audiobooks but classics. Stories old and from far away places. I had the pleasure of reading (or rather consuming) the following books...
  • Classic French short stories
  • Classic German short stories
  • Classic Chinese short stories
  • Classic Russian short stories
  • Stories of Anton Chekhov
  • Short stories of W.S. Maugham Volumes I and II
  • Stories of Guy De Maupassant
  • Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground
  • and finally, The Brothers Karamazov
I am currently in the middle of the last one -- The Brothers Karamazov. It is a 48 hours book. Yes, it is totally strange to speak about the length of books in that way but that's what we have. I am only about a quarter way through.

On the race day, it happened the last Sunday, 9/27, I was told that listening to audiobook rather than a list of fast-paced songs was a bad idea. Somehow it really worked for me. I didn't heed the advice from the experts in the matter, thank God, and chose to spend the two and a half hours with the lives and travails of the brothers in question. It is a pretty incredible story if you haven't read it for yourself. Yes, it is elaborate and long and multi-layered and complex but it is the one of those cornerstones of literature that you need to have read in order to fully understand modern pop culture properly.

Running with the Karamazovs was an invaluable experience. They did not cheer me up. Most certainly not. They did not make me run but they sure helped me get away.