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Guest post: Running books

Posted Jun 25 2012 11:56am

Hello everyone! My name is Julia and I blog over at Pain, Pride and Perseverance .Generally my blog focuses on my running journey and all the lessons I learnalong the way.  This, of course, includesstories of my adventures with my two crazy pups (Riley and Zoey), my newfoundlove for trail running, my life as a psychologist-in-training, my upcoming moveto Minnesota and (most recently) my thoughts on my crazy decision (and mytraining) to sign up for an ultramarathon. I was so excited when Leah asked meto guest post on her blog…as soon as we became blog world friends we found out wehave two HUGE things in common…both from the best city ever (Louisville, KY)and both have a love for reading! So…I am here today to share some of myfavorite “running-related” books with you! Thanks to Leah for inviting me topost :)

I know a lot of people say that they struggle reading oncardio machines at the gym but I have found that if I download books to myiPad, enlarge the print and change the brightness a bit…I can usually read justfine on my easy run and cross-training days. I love to save my mostinspirational and engaging books for the gym…because they keep me motivated andthe time flies by!

Two of the earliest books I read were: Bornto Run and Runningon Empty . These probably sparked an early interest in the “ultra”distances;) I am also currently reading Dean Karnazes’ book 50in 50 .
Born to Run- I think this book is often tough for people to read because it begins with a lot of history and is hard to get into at first. But if you can enjoy and appreciate that part of the book…you come to a wonderful story about the Tarahumara who run so efficiently, naturally and simply…there is no overthinking, fancy equipment or worry. They run simply because they were “born to run.” It’s a truly fascinating story that I often look back on as a reminder to run because I can, because I enjoy it and to not make it too complex or stressful.

Running on Empty generally recaps Marshall Ulrich’s transcontinental run. But what really drew me in was his story. He did not start out a runner but began running to handle a traumatic death in his life. He writes with a sense of honesty and comes across as very genuine. He admits that he has not always been great in family relationships but running has taught him a lot about life, himself and his experiences. I just found that Marshall came across as so “real.” Life, running, etc are not always easy…there are many bumps in the road but we are definitely on a journey that will be worth it in the end.

I was skeptical first about 50 in 50 thinking it would simply be a recap of each of Dean’s 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days journey. However, I feel like he writes the book in a way where he can relate to runners of all ages and abilities. Each marathon presents either a lesson he learned, a lesson that he hopes to teach or just tips for running long distance.

Another book I read last fall that I was surprised to find Ireally enjoyed was Unbroken .This book is a historical nonfiction tale of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runnerturned wartime hero. The running is more of the “back story” with a focus onthe historical context and the amazing resilient human nature of Louis. But,this one draws you in from the first page and, once started, I could barely putit down because I had to know what happens next. The story begins with Louis’juvenile delinquent ways, turns to his discovery of his great gift of the skillfor running and then ultimately becomes the recount of Louis’ fight, courageand journey during WWII. 

Two other books I have really enjoyed are GoingLong and Kristin Armstrong’s MileMarkers.

Going Long is FANTASTIC! And perfect if you are going to be reading it over several days (or weeks)…it is a compilation of short stories put together by Runner’s World magazine. I loved that I could read 2-3 complete stories while getting in my cardio and then come back the next day or week to finish completely new stories. The other thing I loved about this book is that, sure, some of the stories are of the elites and the legends we all hear about often, but they also include stories of the lesser known and every day people who have just allowed running into their lives as one means of making a difference in the lives of others.

Mile Markers is one that I loved because Kristin writes the story in a way that is easy to relate to and constantly draws on the parallels seen in running and life. This was a quick read that I really enjoyed.

I would HIGHLY suggest IronWar …especially if you are a triathlete…but also even if you are not. I amnot sure if I will ever attempt a tri…maybe some day (I am a terrible swimmerand maybe haven’t gotten on a bike since I was in elementary school!?!) but Istill was drawn into this book immediately. A fantastic book documenting the younghistory of the Ironman, the stories of Mark Allen and Dave Scott, and theamazingly intense competition between the two of them in the 1989 Ironman WorldChampionship. It has been called “the greatest race ever” and the book iswritten in a way that makes you feel like you are right there as they fightneck and neck to the finish…I am pretty sure I was holding my breath throughthe entirety of the last few chapters;)

Some people like books that talk more about the technicalaspects of running…I tend to read a few inspirational ones and then sneak onein that may teach me about form, fueling successfully, training, etc. Myfavorites in this area have been: RacingWeightAdvancedMarathoning , and Daniels’Running Formula . I also have a strong desire to learn more aboutmindfulness (staying mentally in the present and without judgment) and the roleour mind plays in running…gotta develop that mental toughness along with ourphysical toughness right!?! So…two books I LOVE on this topic are: RUN:The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel , RunningWithin , and Zenand the Art of Running: The Path to Making Peace with your Pace .

I will end with my absolute favorite book of all time: TheLong Run . This book was actually the first running book I ever read andwill always be my ultimate favorite. I don’t want to ruin the book for anyonewho has not read it…but this is the story of Matt Long, an NYC firefighter andincredible endurance athlete. The story tells of his fight back to Marathonerand Ironman after a debilitating accident. His courage, strength and passionbut also the realness of his frustration and fight, are inspiring andunforgettable. I will admit…I cried for a good 10 minutes at the end…buthopefully that helps tell you how truly amazingly good this book is.

Thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to share someof my favorite books with all of you! Do you like to read? Have you read any ofthese—what are your thoughts? What are your favorite books? Can you read on thetreadmill!?! 

Thank you Julia - this list is incredible! I've read Born to Run, but the rest are definitely going on my to-read list. I even added a few to my Kindle for the trip, so I'll be sure to report back with my thoughts...
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