When I was eight years old my mom caught me reading a book about my favorite gymnast in bed, with a flashlight, when I was supposed to be sleeping. I was a straight edge kid, and rebellion for me meant reading books after lights out. I know, naughty. A lifetime reader, I find great joy in reading a vast array of topics. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, and Dario Castagno’s Too Much Tuscan Sun are a few favorites. Yes my friends, comedy, medical anthropology, and wine are some of my favorite things. But, I love books about running. As the days are short and cold, sometimes reading about running is helpful in fueling our rear-ends out of our warm covers to get out and run. I have compiled a list of my favorites, for your reading pleasure.
1. Run or Die by Killian Jornet
The title is very dramatic, but this Spaniard is extremely grounded. He is touted for his insane mountaineering/running abilities in the wake of the fast growing “Fastest Known Time” (FKT) fad in which runners ascend peaks at running pace. To date, Jornet posses the crown to fastest ascent of Kilimanjaro (5h 23 m), Mont Blanc (3h 30 min), Matterhorn (1h 56 min), and Denali (9h 43 min). In his book he writes with a beautiful appreciation for his natural surroundings, a humble appreciation of his upbringing, and never outright discusses winning races or achieving FKT. He won my appreciation with his humility, and if you didn’t already know that he won you wouldn’t know it by reading his book.
Dr. George Sheehan is one of the oldest and most beloved voices of running. In the 35th Anniversary Edition he states in his prologue “Writing is never easy. And no matter how well done, never to one’s satisfaction…Whatever, the idea of suffering is so natural to both writers and runners it seems to be a common bond.” He is a cardiologist by trade, and considering his 1970’s era, has some progressive thoughts on running, abilities of women, and human nature. He continued to PR after age 40, and was known to push himself so hard in races that he collapsed at the finish line.
I love this book for 3 reasons: 1. ) I love Scott Jurek. He is also a humble winner, with undeniable spirit. He began running as a child as a way of managing stress due to family issues leading to a diagnosis of high blood pressure. His doctor recommended medication for the issue and he took manners into his own hands, using breathing techniques and running to naturally return to normal measures. 2) Scott Jurek is a physical therapist! His mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and he learned the value of physical therapists in addressing quality of life in patients with neurological disease. 3) Scott Jurek gives amazing recipes, all of which are vegan, many of which are gluten free. The end of each chapter of this book involves a mouthwatering and very wholesome recipe. Running and food, good things!
This is the book that tipped the minimalist and barefoot running movement. This book tells an enticing story of human ancestry, in which he gives every runner the perfect retort to a non-runners outlandish claim that running “ruins your knees”, or is “unnatural”. The author delivers a delightful anthropologic look at the Mexican Tarahumara tribe of runners, while weaving in research regarding proper running mechanics, training techniques, the history of running shoes and running culture, and of course the outstanding Scott Jurek. This is really a must read for anyone wanting to carry any weight on either side of the running shoe debate.
If you are a reader, put these on your holiday wish list.
What are your favorite running books? What have I missed?
Take care, and make your day great,