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Some runners in the Boston Marathon trained while listening to audiobooks

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Thousands of runners are competing this morning in the Boston Marathon. Now, some of them have been preparing for the 26.2-mile run by listening to audiobooks while they train. Judith Kogan has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)

JUDITH KOGAN, BYLINE: There's a certain kind of runner who prefers audiobooks to music or podcasts. Lakshman Swamy, scheduled to run in the marathon this morning, is one of them.

LAKSHMAN SWAMY: I love listening to audiobooks even when I'm just kind of, like, cleaning dishes or whatever. But it's so different when I'm in motion. It brings a different quality to it. It brings it alive in a different way. It really kind of transports me there.

KOGAN: You do want a particular sort of book for running - easy to follow, interesting, but not too challenging. On this score, memoirs rank high with marathoners, especially when narrated by an author like Prince Harry.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "SPARE")

PRINCE HARRY: (Reading) When my wife and I fled this place in fear for our sanity and physical safety, I wasn't sure when I'd ever come back.

KOGAN: Memoirs are often about people who overcame or did something difficult. Marathoner Zac Broken Rope says this has special resonance for long distance runners.

ZAC BROKEN ROPE: The marathon - I think it is an innately difficult task for any of us to complete, no matter how fit we are, no matter how we are on our running journey. And so listening to someone else sharing their story while you're doing this, like, difficult thing, I think creates an innate sense of intimacy between you and the reader.

KOGAN: Marathoners are people who tend to engage in repetitive behavior, and quite a few of them return to books already read or fall into rabbit holes.

BEN FRENCH: A couple of marathons ago, I got on a Civil War history binge.

KOGAN: That's marathoner Ben French, also running this morning. Putting the pain of marathon training into perspective was this description of the Antietam battlefield.

(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIOBOOK, "CROSSROADS OF FREEDOM")

NELSON RUNGER: (Reading) Hundreds of dead bodies lying in rows and in piles, looking the picture of all that is sickening, harrowing, horrible.

KOGAN: French listened to a slew of Civil War histories.

FRENCH: Novels on the Civil War as well - and then I got into Ron Chernow and listened to his biography of U.S. Grant. And those books are great in the sense that they're very long. You just can listen for hours.

KOGAN: As for Lakshman Swamy, he used to rely on music for energy during runs but found that that energy faded quickly. He'd always be switching to the next song.

SWAMY: But with an audiobook, the climax is so delightfully built. You know, my heart is pounding more from the suspense of what's happening in the book. I get more of a sustained release of adrenaline from that than I do from just music or even from running alone, right?

KOGAN: Swamy, who's a physician, says listening to stories activates the body the same way running does. The heart beats faster, blood flow increases and breathing quickens.

SWAMY: You're just adding gasoline to the fire. They just synergize so well. Just thinking about it makes me want to get out there and start running and listening to some of the stories I'm listening to right now.

KOGAN: And telling his own story, with an ending like finishing the Boston Marathon.

For NPR News, I'm Judith Kogan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Judith Kogan

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