It’s time to accept that I will not be running for some time. My knee isn’t yet ready or willing to pound the streets and instead I will spend some pounds reading about the sport I love and miss so much while I sit on the injury bench (or injury spin bike, in my case).
There are so many wonderful books about running available, so I asked my friend and running expert Colin Thomas for his recommendations and we have picked our Top 10 Running Books. How many have you read and which of these books will you add to your collection?
My top 10 running books for inspiration, knowledge and enjoyment.
Born to Run, Christopher McDougall. When I first read this book it was a real eye opener to what the human body is really capable of. The majority of the book is set in Mexico’s Copper Canyons, the true story of Caballo Blanco and the Taramuhara Indians running barefoot for 50 to 100 miles, sometimes for the pure pleasure of it is remarkable. This book kicked off the barefoot running craze which swept through the western world a few years ago and it’s easy to see why. The stories of strength, courage and commitment to running proving once again that we humans truly are Born to Run.
Running with the Kenyans, Adharanand Finn. A captivating true account of the Finn family leaving the comfort of their family home and setting up a new life in the magical little town of Iten, Kenya. Many of the world’s top distance runners come from Iten so much so that it is now known as “The Home of Champions.” This book follows the story of the author’s quest to find out the secrets of the fastest people on earth and if living and training amongst them would revolutionise his own running performance.
14 minutes, Alberto Salazaar. Most people will know Alberto as being the legendary distance runner most famous for his marathon performance known as “The Duel in the Sun” or possibly as the head coach of The Oregon Project. He famously coached Mo Farah and Galen Rupp to Olympic medal success in 2012 and 2016. But did you know that he had a tough up bringing as a boy in Cuba before his family fled to the US? Or more importantly, did you know that he essentially died when his heart stopped beating for 14 minutes while out on the training field? This is an insightful account of how life may give you more than one chance and if it does, be sure to take it with both hands!
Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat, Chris Cooper. Athletics in recent years has been dogged by allegations of cheating and drug abuse. When we see great world beating performances these days is it right to be skeptical or should we just accept what we see as being a clean athlete putting in hours of hard work and dedication? This book gives an understandable account of the science behind drugs in sport. If you have been interested in the Armstrong lies or you are suspicious about some athletes performances then you will love this book. Is the possibility of drug free sport realistic? What next with scientists now gene doping? It’s a scary thought but in reality we have got a very long way to go.
Pre, The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine, Tom Jordan. So you have probably seen or heard the famous quote To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Well Steve Prefontine certainly gave his best. Pre was a hard running front runner who was almost unbeatable in distances over a mile for 5 years. At the tender age of just 24 he tragically lost his life in an accident and his legacy lives on.
Some people create with words or with music or with a brush or paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run”.
Running Beyond Limits, Dr Andrew Murray. If somebody told you that they were going to run from the North of Scotland to the Sahara desert in Morocco you would think they should be sanctioned! Well that’s what Dr Andrew Murray did for charity (run I mean, not get sanctioned!) and I’m guessing, he might even have enjoyed it. Being a GP, Sports Medicine Doctor, international ultra runner and winner of many endurance races, you would have to assume that Andrew is not insane himself, but at the very least, extremely determined, hugely motivated and largely inspirational (he is Stephen’s hero). This book is an almost diary like account of that journey. In his role as a Physical Activity Champion for the Scottish government, he actively encourages a healthy lifestyle including exercise and hopefully this book can inspire others to get off the couch and find out if their own bodies can start Running Beyond Limits.
Lore of Running, Tim Noakes MD. Sometimes known as the runners bible, Lore of Running is over 700 pages of scientific research, graphs and stats with a plethora of information from Acute Muscle tears to Zinc deficiency with the everything else in between. Perhaps not a captivating story like some of the other books on this list but if there’s something that you want to find out about running, this book is a pretty good place to start.
The Ghost Runner, Bill Jones. This is the true story of John Tarrant, the man they couldn’t stop. He was banned from competitive running for life after accepting a £17 expenses payment as a teenage boxer. However this wasn’t going to stop John. Gatecrashing races, he would turn up on the start line wearing a disguise, throw it off when the gun went and started his run with everybody else. Before long he was a record breaker and one of the greatest long distance runners the world has ever seen.
Feet in the Clouds: A Tale for Fell-Running and Obsession, Richard Askwith. (Stephen’s pick). With road running off limits for a while, this amazing book will have you pinning for the forests and fells of the Lake District. I for one was entranced by the wonderful tales and descriptions of stunning but often brutally demanding races. I dare you to read this book and not consider jumping on the first train or bus to the Lake District.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running , Haruki Murakami. (Stephen’s pick again). I was given this book as a gift and instantly fell in love with the prose and the passion of Murakami’s writing. In a Top 10 Running Books list full of amazing talent, Murakami is a plodder but exceptionally disciplined and his advice can be applied to life as much as running:
pain is inevitable, suffering is not”.
If you are looking for a bit of running inspiration to kick start your 2017 training plan, be sure to pick up one of these Top 10 Running Books. If bought through one of the links, Stephen earns commission for his Cancer Research Ironman Challenge, so stock up for Christmas and help raise valuable funds.
And, if suitably inspired, why not join Colin and his mixed ability group for a couple of weeks running in Kenya. Either will be sure to get the juices flowing! You can find out more about this arranged, group trip to Kenya at http://www.performancerunningspecialist.net/kenya-training-holiday.html
You can also read all more about Colin’s services at www.performancerunningspecialist.com