In need of motivation? Here are 6 books that have touched me over the years. These books cover why we run, how we run and address the power of experience, the mind and all of them, one way or another, are filled with great takeaways that can enhance your running.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
This book has a powerful effect. I have yet to hear of someone who wasn’t moved in some way to run further, faster or in some way differently.
It’s full of interesting characters, amazing athletic achievements, science and inspiration. The book starts with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets.
This one was the second book I picked up on running and remains on my book shelf. It’s one of the greats!
Will it make the boat go faster? by Ben Hunt-Davis
This is a book bursts with easy to action and relevant personal development advice for life, running, work. It has a simple, easy to read, chatty style. It uses Ben’s journey to success to show us how one can succeed in whatever you want to do. It doesn’t matter what your challenge or goals is, Will It Make the Boat Go Faster? is filled with ideas that will help everyone do whatever they do, better.
The mark of a good book and one that has truly engaged me (fiction aside) is that I have scribbled notes in the margins and underlined the salient points. This book is covered with scribbles. I rarely read a book twice but this one has that badge of honour too.
Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters
This is a book focussing on your mind and its influence over you.
Do you sabotage your own happiness and success? Are you struggling to make sense of yourself? Do your emotions sometimes dictate your life?
The Chimp Paradox is a mind model that aspires to make you become a happier, more confident, healthier and more successful person. Prof Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life.
I reference this book a lot in my coaching and in my own life. I was once at the mercy of a very active and noisy Chimp, this book helped me identify my own chimp and I have worked steadily to quieten him. I now embrace the words of wisdom Maya once imparted before a race: “don’t listen to the chimp on your shoulder, listen to the angel in your heart!
50 marathons 50 days by Dean Karnazes
This book is a story of Karnazes running 50 marathons in 50 days. In telling the story it shows the amazing things you can achieve when the mind and the body work together. It is full of Karnazes’ secrets including what to do when things don’t go to plan.
Have you ever read a book which hits you just at the right time? This I one of those books. I can remember where I was when I devoured it. Not because it is an incredible piece of prose but because the words and his experiences were talking right to me. Turning each page was like a can opener opening a lid. I was barely a runner at the time but I had this thirst for something I wasn’t yet sure of and this book was one of the primary catalyst to get me into Ultras.
The rise of the ultra runners by Adharanand Finn
The Rise of the Ultra Runners is a fun read in which Finn gets to the heart of the sport. Whilst out running with many of the top runners in the Ultra world he delves into their motivations and advice on how and why they do what they do. He offers an interesting account of people testing the boundaries of human endeavour.
This was a recent read which I really enjoyed as it gave a more intimate understanding of many of the ultra runners I have heard so much about and who I respect. It allowed me to peer a little more into in to their worlds and into some of the iconic ultras around the world.
A lifetime of reflections on and off the court by Coach John Wooden
In honest and humble little passages Wooden shares his personal philosophy on family, achievement, success and excellence. It’s a great little read.
Whilst listening to podcasts of sports people over the years, this Coach and this book was referenced more than any other. He seems to have touched many people and I picked up this book to find out for myself why he seems such a legend. Rather unsurprisingly, I found the hype to be true and I enjoyed his reflections and will endeavour to adopt them into my life.
What am I reading now?
26 Marathons: What I’ve Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From Each Marathon I’ve Run by Meb Keflezighi
The book is broken down into 26 chapters. Each one takes you through each of his 26 marathons. He chats you through the highs, the lows, and the takeaways from each one. I am really enjoying his easy going style and honest account.