The Running Book

John Connell

John sets off on a marathon run of 42.2 kilometres through his native Longford, the scene of his award-winning book The Cow Book.


As he runs across woodlands, fields and tiny roads, he tells the story of his life and contemplates Ireland’s history, old and new. He also remembers other great runs he has done, from Australia to Canada, and tells the stories of some of his running heroes, such as Haile Gebrselassie.


Part memoir, part essay, The Running Book explores what it is to be alive and what movement can do for a person. It is deeply intimate and wide-ranging, local and global: Connell is as likely to write about colonialism and the effect of British imperialism in Ireland and its former colonies as he is about life on his family farm in Ballinalee, County Longford. Told in 42 chapters, each another kilometre in the 42.2k race, the whole book is 42,000 words long and it captures what it is to undertake a marathon moment by moment, in body and mind. Above all, The Running Book is a book about the nature of happiness and how for one man it came through the feet.


A compelling insight into the mind of someone who loves to run for running’s sake, and who is keen to immerse himself fully into the world around him, 

Irish Independent

In this difficult new world where a walk or a run around the block might be the only respite your mental health gets in a day of isolation, Connell’s paean to the activity couldn’t be better timed, 

Sunday Independent

This book explores wonderfully the joys and pleasures of running and conveys why it is so important to so many people. Through running journeys that are interspersed with interesting anecdotes and memories, the history and beauty of Ireland are brought to life. We are all unique and run for many different reasons but every runner will find something poignant that resonates within this book.

Paula Radcliffe

Some books are for runners, some are for history lovers. This charming volume is for both. It has made me vow to keep my eyes more widely open the next time I put my running shoes on – whether the ground beneath my feet is new or familiar. 

Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost

Read The Running Book and you see life in every route you run: past, present and future. Life is for running.

Sonia O'Sullivan

British colonialism is a topic that demands coverage and I am glad that Mr Connell is approaching it from this new lens.

Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire

In this slim volume, Connell offers a lovely testimonial to all the seeing to be done by eyes and hearts that hold themselves open. And he shows us that, wherever we run, the world remains with us, to be grasped in all its grief and majesty. 

Zia Haider Rahman, author of In The Light of What We Know

Sensational! John Connell has done it again 

Dean Karnazes

It is summer, the hay and silage have not yet been made on John Connell’s farm, so he has time to indulge his other great passion: running.

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