In the tradition of Wild and H Is for Hawk, an Outside magazine writer tells her story—of fathers and daughters, grief and renewal, adventure and obsession, and the power of running to change your life. I’m running to forget, and to remember.
For more than a decade, Katie Arnold chased adventure around the world, reporting on extreme athletes who performed outlandish feats—walking high lines a thousand feet off the ground without a harness, or running one hundred miles through the night. She wrote her stories by living them, until eventually life on the thin edge of risk began to seem normal. After she married, Katie and her husband vowed to raise their daughters to be adventurous, too, in the mountains and canyons of New Mexico. But when her father died of cancer, she was forced to confront her own mortality.
His death was cataclysmic, unleashing a perfect storm of grief and anxiety. She and her father, an enigmatic photographer for National Geographic, had always been kindred spirits. He introduced her to the outdoors and took her camping and on bicycle trips and down rivers, and taught her to find solace and courage in the natural world. And it was he who encouraged her to run her first race when she was seven years old.
Now nearly paralyzed by fear and terrified she was dying, too, she turned to the thing that had always made her feel most alive: running. Over the course of three tumultuous years, she ran alone through the wilderness, logging longer and longer distances, first a 50-kilometer ultramarathon, then 50 miles, then 100 kilometers. She ran to heal her grief, to outpace her worry that she wouldn’t live to raise her own daughters. She ran to find strength in her weakness. She ran to remember and to forget. She ran to live.
Ultrarunning tests the limits of human endurance over seemingly inhuman distances, and as she clocked miles across mesas and mountains, Katie learned to tolerate pain and discomfort, and face her fears of uncertainty, vulnerability, and even death itself. As she ran, she found herself peeling back the layers of her relationship with her father, discovering that much of what she thought she knew about him, and her own past, was wrong.
Running Home is a memoir about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our world—the stories that hold us back, and the ones that set us free. Mesmerizing, transcendent, and deeply exhilarating, it is a book for anyone who has been knocked over by life, or feels the pull of something bigger and wilder within themselves.
“A beautiful work of searching remembrance and searing honesty . . . Katie Arnold is as gifted on the page as she is on the trail. Running Home will soon join such classics as Born to Run and Ultramarathon Man as quintessential reading of the genre.”—Hampton Sides, author of On Desperate Ground and Ghost Soldiers
About the Author
Katie Arnold is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine, where she worked on staff for twelve years. Her “Raising Rippers” column about bringing up adventurous, outdoor children appears monthly on Outside Online. She has written for The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Sunset, Runner’s World, ESPN: The Magazine, Elle, and many others, and her narrative nonfiction has been recognized by Best American Sportswriting. Arnold is the Leadville Trail 100 Run women’s champion. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband and two daughters.
“In her debut memoir, Running Home, Katie Arnold does an admirable job of trusting the everyday material of her life. . . . She writes a story exploring how her growing preoccupation with running has been intertwined with loving and losing her father. She takes the risk of being ordinary, and therefore human. . . . We want to know how other people live, and Arnold shows us.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Running Home is, as the name implies, a memoir about the sport. But it’s also an inspiring story about overcoming grief and discovering yourself.”—Real Simple
“A contemplative, soul-searching account of the death of [Katie Arnold’s] beloved father and how she used long-distance running as a way to heal from the grief.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Far more than a book about running, this touching memoir takes readers on a compelling and emotional journey as Arnold finds relief from her sorrow.”—Library Journal
“Arnold masterfully captures the vulnerability of wading through grief with each step she takes towards self-discovery. This remarkable memoir will undoubtedly resonate with runners but equally so with children of divorce, new mothers, and those who have suffered the loss of a parent. An eloquent tribute to the complexity and vibrancy of a parent-child relationship.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Katie Arnold is a gifted athlete and equally talented writer. In Running Home she speaks candidly about her relationship with her father and a family dynamic that verged on dysfunctional, yet was also empowering. Her story drew me in from the first line and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. A must-read for anyone looking for a deeper glimpse into the mindset of a fearless individual.”—Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner and author of Ultramarathon Man
“[Running Home] invites comparisons with Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Like Strayed, Arnold uses physical exertion—in her case, long-distance running—to treat her grief and restore an eventual equilibrium. In fact, her gorgeous descriptions of her body in motion through the physical world immerse the reader in her state of mind, so that we too are ‘high on my mountains, the world below reassuringly close and yet distance enough.’”—Anna Leahy, LitHub
“Profound on every page . . . What Elizabeth Gilbert has done for travel, Katie Arnold has done here for running. I was breathless by the end, murmuring thanks. Running Home is an instant classic, one that will be read for years to come.”—Michael Paterniti, author of Love and Other Ways of Dying
“Running Home is a lovely, big-hearted, and inspiring memoir that looks life’s challenges right in the eye. Katie Arnold writes about the curveballs and heartbreaks—as well as the joys—with a pure emotional courage that matches her physical feats on the ultramarathon trails. This is a book with soul.”—Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean and The Wave