There is, it seems, a rule for anyone who wants to write a book about running.
It must have the word ‘running’, ‘run’ or ‘ran’ in the title – just to leave the reader in no doubt about the subject matter.
Eat and Run
Run Mummy Run
Running for my Life
Run or Die
Running with the Kenyans
This Mum Runs
Running: Cheaper Than Therapy
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
This Girl Ran
Running Like a Girl
Running the Smoke
Just a Little Run Around the World
So what’s in a name (of a running book)? Nothing very subtle, it appears.
For subtlety, look to climbing and mountaineering, a genre that has spawned evocative and poetic titles.
Touching the Void
Into Thin Air
Alone on the Wall
Buried in the Sky
The Magician’s Glass
Art of Freedom
The Beckoning Silence
And so, as the author of an imminent book about running, I was faced with a dilemma: what do I call it?
I suppose some authors have a title in mind before they begin – be it functional and informative, or romantic and abstract. But what if the narrative begins to run away from the chosen title? With no fixed idea, I allowed the developing story to determine the title. That was the hope, at least.
My book is about the sport of hill running in Scotland, about the people who go to high places and the inspiration they find there. I spoke to dozens of runners – the champions and the backmarkers, and everyone in between. A common theme, a uniting bond, emerged. These people felt called to the fabulous hills and mountains of Scotland. To go to the high places is what matters to them: how fast they run, how many summits they touch, whether they are first or last, is irrelevant. To have answered the call, to just be there – that is enough.
The mountains are calling, the very well known words of John Muir that he followed with the statement, ‘and I must go’, seemed to be the right title. And so my book is The Mountains are Calling. ‘Running’ is there in the subtitle. (My publisher did not give me much choice about that).
And I suppose the title indicates my hopes for The Mountains are Calling – that it will be enjoyed as a book about running and human endeavour, while also evoking the magnificence of hills and mountains and Scotland. For me, there is no greater collaboration.
The Mountains are Calling (Sandstone Press) is published on May 17 and can now be preordered.