Book Reviews

Run Gently Out There – Book Review

Run Gently Out There – Book Review

Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons

There’s a lot being written and talked about for Run Gently Out There by John Morelock and I’ll talk about the author and the book later in my review. But I first want to tell you why I enjoyed reading this book and recommend you read it too. When I first started trail running it was based on a love for the trails and for being as far out in nature as I could get while still being able to run home or back to my car in the allotted time I had. I’ve said many times, “I don’t like to run…I like where running takes me”. I ran to fuel my appreciation for things I saw in the forest and our local deserts. I stopped to look at interesting plants, I stopped to watch wild animals, I stopped to watch an interesting cloud, a beautiful sunrise or sunset. I found petroglyphs left by Native Americans centuries ago that other runners who had been running those same trails for years didn’t know existed.

When I first started running trail races I also enjoyed meeting and talking with other trail runners. They didn’t “tell stories”, they “relived their experiences”. For various reasons I won’t get into here this has all changed for me with the increased popularity of ultra trail races and a culture shift at ultra races over the past few years. Recently I’ve struggled to get back to where trail running used to be for me…enjoyable.

And then I found Run Gently Out There. As the author, John Morelock, relives his experiences of trail running and ultra trail racing on the pages of Run Gently Out There it brought my thoughts back to where I started and I began to relate to his experiences in my own way. It was like running with an old friend. Every time I pick up Run Gently Out There I feel as though I’m sharing those trails John Morelock writes about and hope to someday find myself on John’s trails so I can talk to the same “Old Men on the Trails” myself (and if I’m lucky enough to run into John Morelock while I’m there I’ll offer to buy him a chili dog).

About John Morelock

Before I talk about the book I feel it necessary to mention the man behind the typewriter, or pencil or computer or whatever he used to write the book. John Morelock is a past columnist for Ultrarunning Magazine where he wrote a column titled, are you ready for this? Run Gently Out There. His book includes some of those columns and a whole lot more. John has a modest list of ultra trail race completions, mostly in the northwest United States near his home in Washington state, on Ultra Signup to go along with a nearly 30 year love affair with trail running. John claims to have “run”, not “raced” most of his races…even the races he won (those aren’t listed on Ultra Signup) he says started out as a run and eventually turned into a race as he progressed down the trail that day. When looking at John’s list of races one race in particular jumps out at me, the 2012 Le Grizz 50 Mile where John finished with a time of 10:19:16. That’s a very respectable time for a 50 mile run for most people. The fact that John was 70 years old when he did it blows me away! I should mention when John was a wee lad of only 43 years old he finished the same Le Grizz 50 Mile Run in 6:31:43, good enough for second place.

Finally…About the Book

Using some of John Morelock’s own words Run Gently Out There is not a how-to book. “It’s not a cookbook, not an offering of recipes for success.” John is very careful to “write about the generalities of training or any other of the other quantifiable aspects of running.” This book shouldn’t be judged for what it’s not, it should be read and enjoyed for what it is. It’s a sharing of experiences from the trails, Run Gently Out There has a way of jolting the reader back into reality as to why we should run on the trails and to help each of us in our own way find that enjoyment from within ourselves. If reading the back cover strikes accord with you then you will enjoy reading Run Gently Out There. If reading the back cover of this book doesn’t interest you then don’t walk, run to get a copy of this book because you’re missing out on the greatest aspect of what trail running has to offer all of us. Here’s the teaser on the backcover:

If on leaving a trailhead you only glance at your watch to have an idea of when you need to be back-parts of this book will be for you.

If when crossing a desert valley you wonder what it is like to run in the silence and solitude way out there-parts of this book will be for you.

If wading across a beaver pond during a run seemed the only logical thing to do-parts of this book will be for you.

If you ever thought of running fifty miles in one day-parts of this book will be for you.

If you sometimes went out after sunset for a run because you saw a cloudless sky and you wanted to run under a visible night sky-parts of this book will be for you.

If you need to be out there where running with pauses continues to be just as important as the occasional run with the stopwatch on-then Run Gently Out There is for you.

You can purchase Run Gently Out There on Amazon


You can relive more of John Morelock’s experiences on his entertaining Run Gently Out There blog.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 22 posts on Trail Running Club.

John is a former VP of Operations for Go Daddy Group, Inc. The largest domain name seller and hosting provider in the world. John currently consults with clients on their internet marketing strategies and manages client website projects from conception to completion.

Born and raised in a small eastern Iowa town John received his BBA from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa before escaping the cold winters for Arizona over 17 years ago.

John has completed several trail races and runs including:
• Black Canyon Trail 100K Endurance Run
• Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run
• Adrenaline 65K Night Run
• Rim to Rim to Rim - Grand Canyon 48 mile
• Javelina Jundred 100K
• Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run
• Javelina Jundred 100 mile
• Man Against Horse 50 mile
• Flagstaff Trail Marathon
• Mesquite Canyon 50K
• Old Pueblo 50 Mile Endurance Run
• Just Another Mad Dog 50K

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