I read a lot of books, either real physical books, or quite often, listening to audiobooks while running. I decided that as today is a ‘rest day’ in my training plan that I would share my thoughts on the 5 best reads that have either inspired or informed my running.
As a barefoot runner, I have to start with ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall, the book that has done more than any other for the whole barefoot running community and truly inspired people all over the world to try their foot at barefoot running!
Born to Run chronicles Christopher McDougall’s experience of running and his amazing time spent running with and learning from the Mexican Tarahumara, native people who are known for running races of over 100 miles, in sandals that they make themselves across rugged grounds like the searingly hot Copper Canyon. In the book, Christopher challenges the whole running shoe industry as it became clear to him that not only are we ‘Born to Run’ without running shoes but that running shoes are actually doing more harm than good!
I have to say, that since reading this book and transitioning to barefoot running, I am certainly a stronger runner, fitter, probably not faster, but I can run further than I used to be able to!
I love this book from the simply amazing Deena Kastor and it was a really tough choice deciding if this was first or second on my list! I went with second because barefoot running describes me now, but second because I love the positivity in this book. Deena has taught me that the power of the mind can overcome the weaknesses of the body through positive positioning of the battle that we all go through each time we run. This book really does give an insight into how the minds of top athletes work, while I will never be in that group of people, it is a powerful thing to be able to learn the thinking of someone who had to overcome her own thoughts that were stopping her from becoming one of the world’s best elite runners!
Being an older runner, I’m just fascinated by this book by Rich Roll, who was middle aged before becoming one of the world’s fittest men! Now, while I have to admit, that’s an extremely unlikely outcome for me (lol) it just goes to show how much can be achieved through dedication and belief in yourself. The book also struck a chord with me as Rich Roll is vegan, I’m vegetarian but clearly there is a link here, despite the fact that Rich Roll went from couch potato to running, no, competing in some of the world’s toughest events just 18 months later! His writing style is easy and entertaining while being truly inspirational.
If you are an older runner, check out The OMIL’s blog, some really useful stuff and a fun read!
If you run ultras, or are planning to run an ultra, you simply must read this book by Scott Jurek, he is an icon in the ultra community. A vegan runner who has held many of the worlds greatest running endurance championships. The book chronicles Scott’s journey towards his place in history and his record breaking performances through his amazing ironclad willpower. You will soon realise how much Scott places in fuelling the body well, he gives some great nutrition tips and practical advice. An awesome book by a fantastic runner.
Ira Rainey’s book is a little different and means a lot to me personally because his story really kicks in when his friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer. I have been pushing myself hard for the last 8 years after being given a 30% chance of surviving 5 years due to a cancer diagnosis, you can read more about that in other posts of mine. Essentially, this book delivers humour while following Ira from fat to fit but also gives an insight into what that takes to achieve.
Why read these books?
Well, my reasoning lies in what you might notice between all of these, the common threads.
The need to understand the mindset required to deliver growth and change, and the desire to push beyond perceived limitations.
As an overweight, older runner, still physically and men
tally scarred by cancer and it’s side effects, pushing beyond what I thought was ever possible for me is an essential driver for my life now. So if you want inspiration, be it for running, cycling, or any other challenge you care to take on, these books hit the nail on the head for having your head in the right place!
If you decide to have a read of these books, or have already read them, let me know what you think in the comments, also your thoughts or questions on barefoot running, if I can help you with that, by answering questions, just let me know.