Gerry Lindgren’s Book on Running – Review

For those of you who haven’t heard of Gerry Lindgren, he was a running prodigy from Spokane Wahsington. He came from the no-pain no-gain more-is-better school of running. In the 1960s that was the way. The book is written by “The Shadow of Gerry Lindgren”… Gerry himself. This is actually of interest because of his background. He grew up in an alcoholic family. He was the proverbial 90 pound weakling with a high pitched squeaky voice. He was also molded by the 1960s social revolution. Running was his escape… his strength… his empowerment.

From his high school years, with his coach’s encouragement, his running philosophy was to “run to lose”. He would run to exhaustion. It was up to everyone else to stay with him. His high school coach, Tracy Walters, instilled this in him. Indeed, he was successful at certain levels. He did set American records and high school records (4:01.5 – mile, 13:44 – 5000) and had 11 NCAA championship runs (cross-country & track). In 1965 he tied (yes, a tie – back then there were no photo finish cameras) with the great Ron Clarke in a then 6 mile (nope not 10k in the US) world record 27:11.6. He is in the Track & Field Hall of Fame (2004 inductee).

It is an interesting read for the fact that you will shake your head in amazement at what he did for workouts. He would run his team workouts then run a “secret workout” at 2:00 AM of 10 miles. He ran upwards of 25 and even 35 miles a day of running. Yes, he says he was running up to 200 mile weeks. There is no reason to doubt what he writes. It is rather mind-boggling. It is not your typical “how-to” running book. It’s enmeshed with philosophical propositions on running and life.

His running was left behind soon after his college years at Washington State University.  He ranked in the top three Americans in the 5000 & 10,000 meters from 1964-1969. The 1971 and 1972 seasons saw him drop to 10th in the 10,000. He never ranked again. Gerry disappeared for years. Little was heard of him. His book only discusses his life through his running career. Other than lists of times and championships the narrative covers only events through his Olympic experience (9th in the 1964 10,000 meters; won by Billy Mills).

What’s not in the book:

So, what happened to him in those intervening years? This book was published in 2005. Steve Friedman in the July 2004 edition of Runner’s World catches us up. He was discharged from the Army after only 47 days with a bleeding ulcer. He had Achilles tendonitis that kept him out of the 1968 Olympics and was hit by a car during his preparation for the 1972 Olympics. In one account, he was running up to 50 miles a day in preparation for the ’72 Olympics. In the 70s he was married, fathered a child with another woman, ran away from home (really… just up and left one day). After being tracked down by his wife three months later they settled back down in in Tacoma, WA. He opened a couple running shoe stores. In 1980 he left again. He lived under an assumed name for years. There are various accounts how and why he used the name. He has remarried – maybe. He works as a manager of some parking garages. He has since lived in Honolulu for over 20 years and coaches. He has no contact with his son (now in his 30s). Gerry is now 60 years old and still runs 50 miles per week. It seems his runners seem to view him as a philosopher as much as a coach. He has a website: www.gerrylindgren.com .

From my distant perch I can only say he appears to be a tortured soul. Since it is stated in several places that his humor is sometimes missed; I withold judgment as to the veracity of all his anecdotes and miles run. The book is interesting but disjointed, incomplete and far from riveting though historically interesting. In any event there is no doubt that runners such as he, Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter, Jim Ryun and others ushered in the running boom of the 1970s.

shoe-1_edited-dark.jpgshoe-1_edited-dark.jpgshoe-1_edited-light_1.jpgshoe-1_edited-light_1.jpgshoe-1_edited-light_1.jpg 2.0/5.0 Shoes Rating

Want to read it for yourself? Go here.

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About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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6 Responses to Gerry Lindgren’s Book on Running – Review

  1. Jim says:

    as a side note..he posts fairly often on the letsrun website under the name Gerry the jogger. His posts many times are short incoherent ramblings…if you have time..go to letsrun message board and under the search function type in gerry the jogger..I think you should be able to find some of his posts. Strange guy

  2. Brittany says:

    Gerry is an isperation to all runners and if it werent for his book i would have never heard or appreciated what he did for the running world. i think the book is a little amaturely written but it is very vivid and intresting

  3. Kevin says:

    Sounds like he is a selfish idiot. In fact as a former running champion myself from Idaho back then, who ran against him once in a collegiate cross-country race I feel that Jerry is a coward. Isn’t that what cowards do in battle when they are afraid to face the fight? They just run away……….as fast as they can. That’s all Jerry has been doing all his life in all of his races, and especially with his poor family. In the case of his races someone just pointed him in the right direction so that he appears to be a winner, when in fact he is really nothing but a big loser. This is borne out in the fact that no one was there to point him in the right direction when it came to his poor family. Especially his 3 children. I don’t think he is an inspiration to anyone….

  4. Dean Hebert says:

    Kevin,
    I do not know Gerry personally so I certainly cannot attest to the kind of person he is. There are his detractors and supporters I’m sure. I still withhold judgment. I completely understand your points.

  5. Caribou Driver says:

    I found the philosophy expressed by Gerry and his coach in “Gerry Lindgren’s Book on Running” to be one I want to make part of my own. I’ve always known that the runner ahead of me was making me go faster. I never quite thought of it as their gift to me. I, in turn, when breathing down the neck of that runner or even passing them, now understand that I am making a gift to them. If they respond by picking up the pace, I have made them demand more of themselves and I’ve made the race more rewarding to them (particularly if they beat me in the end). Whether I beat them or not, it’s a win win situation.

  6. Irv Haynes says:

    I have known Gerry since early Grade School. In Junior High School we both were trying out for the Track Team and he was running up there with the fastest runners on the Team. I can remember the Junior High School coach having the tryouts on the paved parking lot, making sort of an oval out of it, it looked crazy dangerous to me because if the runners would have fallen they would have been injured badly at that speed.

    Even before Junior High when Gerry was in Grade School he would come up to me and tap on my shoulder and say ” can you catch me” and take off like a bullet. He was into running unofficially from a very early age, having hilly running trails behind his house.

    What probably was a big part in makeing Gerry a would class runner was his two (2) paper routes, delivering the Spokane Chronicle after school. I would see him running his route with a very heavy bag of Newspapers every night 5 to 6 days a week, that kind of work/exercise had to have developed his leg muscles very well. In his Junior year in High School his leg muscles had become huge.

    Gerry has just about the optimum height/weight ratio to be a great runner, it was to bad that he had accidents before many of his Olympic Trials and during the Olympics of 1964 in Tokyo.

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