A friend asked the other day how I ever started running. (Longsuffering, patient friend to sit still for that story.) In a nutshell, Prairie Bible Institute in southern Alberta and Kenneth Cooper’s “Aerobics” for physical education. Remember Dr. Cooper? And the book that started the whole aerobic revolution thing back in the day?
Well it started me thinking…what other books have helped me along my running journey? Although there are more than five (Who are we kidding? There are many, many more than five.) I thought today we could talk about five running books.
Favorites? Although I love these and have read and re-read them, I would be hard pressed to list my absolute favorite running books. More like motivators. So with no further ado, I give you my five best books for starting and maybe continuing running.
1. Aerobics by Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Obviously.
35-ish years ago I didn’t have my bike with me. I couldn’t swim. Running was my only option. The rest (as they say) is history. Thank you Dr. Cooper.
2. Relentless Forward Progress by Byron Powell.
This is the book that guided me through the 50k last year. I followed one of the training plans, with a few modifications. Learned about nutrition, gear, and race strategy. I’d recommend it highly if you’re interested in going longer.
3. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
This is my go-to book when I need motivation. I try to read it in January every year when I need help getting my a** out of bed on the cold dark mornings. As a bonus, I find that for a few nights after I’ve read it I have running dreams. Wonderful running dreams. And though I can’t promise you’ll have the same result, it’s definitely a gamble worth taking.
4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
An absolutely beautiful memoir about two of my favorite things, running and writing. I keep this book in easy reach and often pick it up to read a chapter with my tea. Murakami writes with clarity about the discipline needed to succeed in both these disparate worlds.
And finally, the most recent addition to my bookshelf.
5. Older Faster Stronger by Margaret Webb
I’m loving this book. At 50-ish, Webb decided she wanted to be stronger and fitter than her 20-something college athlete self. Worthy goal. This book walks you through her process and ends with her competition at the World Master’s in Turin, Italy. Lots of good information here about training and eating, but the best bits were her interviews with master’s athletes, women in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s who still train and compete to win. Very, very good motivation.
In case you’re not a “book” reader, but like shorter articles and stories you can enjoy with your tea, check out Ultrarunning Magazine. Articles on runners, races, training, every aspect of ultrarunning you can imagine. Well written. Readable. (And a good idea for someone who might want to buy me a little present somewhere down the road. Hint.) As a bonus, their website has a searchable calendar of upcoming ultras around the country and the world.
There you go, Pals. Looking for a good read for the weekend? Enjoy. (But be sure to put the book down long enough to get your run in.)