Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
What’s the connection between running and reading? Professional runners Alexi Pappas and Kyle Merber are showing the running world that anything can be related to reading with a little passion and imagination.
How? Through their new podcast Book Club Track Club, debuting on March 1, 2018.
The goal of the podcast is to merge the two worlds of running and reading. The hosts explained that their aim is to “read great books (that are not necessarily about running) and get creative to find ways that make them running books.”
Women’s Running recently spoke with Pappas and Merber individually about this project. Keep reading to learn about their passions and motivations for running, the current books they’re reading and their goals for this new podcast!
What inspired you to team up and start this project?
Alexi (A): I was inspired when I heard Kyle mention a book club on the Citius Magazine podcast. I love the idea of a book club. I’ve always found reading helps me understand my athletics and process it best.
Kyle (K): It came out of another podcast I had done as a guest. I always share the books that I’m reading on social media, and [founder of Citius Magazine] Chris Chavez asked if I ever would consider doing a podcast or a book club. Alexi was just casually listening and she heard that idea and immediately reached out. When she reached out to me, I thought about it more seriously. I’d been waiting for an excuse to make my own podcast and we just ran with it (no pun intended!).
Can you share a bit about your passion for running? What motivates you? Generally, what lessons have you learned?
A: I am motivated by my goals and also by the belief in me from those around me. I love running for a bigger purpose. Most recently, I made a film project as part of the Olympic Artist in Residence program, and being here around others chasing their goals and dreams is inspiring to me. Running the marathon in the 2020 Olympics is my biggest goal.
K: There has to be a goal…you have to have an idea of where you want to go. Then the idea that every single day you can just take little steps closer and closer to getting there–that’s probably the biggest thing with running. Every single day there’s one aspect that can get a little bit closer to achieving [your goal]. You have to enjoy the process; you have to enjoy what you’re doing day in and day out.
Can you share a bit about your passion for reading? When did you first develop a love of reading? What is important to you about books?
A: I like books the way I like window shopping–to know what “exists” in the world, to be exposed to worlds and words and sentences that I haven’t seen before.
K: I never read until maybe halfway through college. I was one of many teenage kids who probably didn’t really like being told what to read and therefore avoided it at all costs. When I realized I didn’t just have to read for school, that I could read for pleasure, I started doing it way, way more. I carry the book with me at all times of the day. I will read five pages here, put it down, read five more pages there, put it down. I’m always reading throughout the day. I’m constantly reading and therefore I’m constantly involved in the story.
Can you give an example of how non-running-related books can have messages or lessons related to running? What are some examples from your own life where you drew inspiration, motivation, or learned a new lesson from reading books?
A: Runners can always find ways to relate things to running! Books included. Mostly I think books show us a new scenario of a person wanting something, which at its core is what a runner is.
K: The balance between reading and running is there. Our challenge is to get creative. Having certain themes that are going to connect super well to running is really important. The thing that reading has taught me is this idea of looking at the world from different perspectives. Just realizing that everyone had a different viewpoint and through reading you can step into someone else’s shoes and understand a subject in a way that you never would otherwise have the opportunity to. Through having my head in the book through college and beyond it reminds you to take a step back and consider alternatives that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Is there anything you hope to gain from this project?
A: I hope to learn along with our bookworms. We will show each other what is special about the books! I also look forward to working with Kyle. He is an athlete I’ve long admired and am so excited to team up with him.
K: There seems to be quite the overlap between readers and runners. The way a runner’s mind works, [this project] lines up. I think it’s a cool way to connect with fans off the track. It’s a unique way to connect with people who know us for our running in a different venue. Hopefully having a conversation about a more dynamic topic will help people see a side of us they’ve never seen before.
What are you reading right now?
A: Sour Grapes, short stories
K: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Want to read along? Pick up your copy of this month’s featured book, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Readers can grab a physical copy like Merber or listen to the e-book like Pappas. If you’re interested in learning more about Book Club Track Club, visit the podcast website or follow Book Club Track Club on Twitter and use the hashtag #BookClubTC to share your favorite quotes from the book or the podcast and connect with other readers. Pappas and Merber plan to debut the first Book Club Track Club episode on March 1, 2018.