Thursday, February 24, 2011

Books, Books, and more Books

I've haven't been a big reader for a number of years. I like to read. It just takes time and I get really disappointed if the book turns out to be a dud. I just don't have time to waste on that. I could be eating, running, watching a movie, or even cleaning my house (gasp) during that time. Combine that with becoming a mom 16 1/2 years ago, and my book repertoire has been concentrated in the children's section. Now don't get me wrong... I love "Suddenly Alligator", "The Giving Tree", "I Love You This Much" and "Go, Dog Go" but I have had a returning longing for a little grown up reading. I made a resolution last year to read at least one book a month. I got a list of suggestions from my cousin who works in a library so I wouldn't be wasting my time. And I loved every single book that I read. Yes, most of them were young adult fiction, but they were still books! I even branched out on my own and found a few keepers all by myself.
Even before this year of reading, I have managed to find time in the past years to read some running books. However, I have found that many of them are like a "how to" book that isn't super fun to read. I need to be entertained. It's sad commentary on myself but so true. And many of them I was just slogging through. I bought "Chi Running" back in 2008 and got stuck with all the spiritual mumbo jumbo and never finished it. I did gain knowledge from it though about running form and still think about aspects of it to this day. I bought "Brain Training for Runners" and got stuck with some of the physiological break downs and never finished it. I think I really need that one and may pick it back up.

I also read "Performance Nutrition for Runners". That was a really worthwhile book and while I don't follow every principal it contained so much useful information from supplements to special diets. It's one I would recommend and will mail to anyone who wants to borrow it. But none of these were entertaining books.

Then last year I read "Born to Run". While it was an extremely informative book, it was a novel. A story. And a really entertaining one at that. I couldn't put it down. I will admit to taking it on a date once to the raised eyebrows of my husband. It was only for the car ride there. I put it away after that. But it seems that since that time I have read some really informative, yet thrilling books on runners. And I think that's the difference. It's about the people. People doing incredible, unimaginable, seemingly impossible things. And I like that. It's inspiring. It makes me wonder what is possible.

So here's a few of the books that I've read that I think you all would really like. And you may have already read them. Tell me if you have and what you thought about them.

While this is a "how to" book, it is extremely interesting. I wish I had found this book when I first started thinking about barefoot running. It takes the reader from "the why" behind barefoot running, to drills that prepare your feet and awaken those unused muscles. It then has a beginner, intermediate, and advanced barefoot runner sections. It also has a great section on minimalist footwear and what to look for. It has concepts, issues, and activities for getting you on the right road to barefoot running without injury. And at the end it has his incredible story of running the Hallucination 100 mile race. Those races enthrall my mind and spirit because they seem so impossible. I love stories about people doing incredible things. I have to remind myself though that once I thought a marathon was impossible. That gives me great hope that possibly someday I might be able to do something like that. Totally inspiring!

"Barefoot Running" by Michael Sandler.
Michael starts his book by telling while training for a 4000 mile coast to coast skate to help children with learning disabilities, he is in an accident that leaves him with a titanium hip and femur. He was told he'd never run again and be lucky to walk. He was lucky to be alive. But he went from crutching, to walking, and then through barefoot running was able to run again. He typically run 10-20 miles a day now. His book is more in depth and offers a slightly different view on barefoot running technique. He also has drills and exercises and talks about nutrition. But he talks about landing on the forefoot which I found caused extra stress to my calves and achilles. Jason talks about landing midfoot with your heel lightly touching the ground the same time as your toes. He also is very specific when it comes your your arms and I found that when I concentrated on the specific angles, that I couldn't relax, which has been the single most important thing that has helped me with my running. Michael overcomes great obstacles including not having an ACL and 10 knee operations. His story is truly inspiring.
"Ultra Marathon Man" by Dean Karnaz.
You simply can not read this story without being amazed and inspired and even a little bit teary. It is the story of how Dean got started in running and eventually in ultra marathons. He describes himself as an ordinary man, but soon into the story (and it is a great story) you realize that his will to do the extraordinary is amazing. It follows his Junior High career, the loss of his little sister, his 15 year break from running and climbing the corporate ladder, and his eventual return to running. The story follows his first ultra, his DNF through Death Valley's Badwater 135 mile race, and his conquering everything in his path. It follows him through a 199 mile relay race as a team of one. Everything about this book is thrilling and inspiring. But what I really love about Dean is his down to earth manner, how humble he is, and what a great dad and husband he seems to be. But the more you get to know about ultra endurance athletes, I think this is a common characteristic.

"50/50" by Dean Karnaz.
A follow up book that gives the mere mortal Dean's lesson he learned while running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Another example of his giving nature to share his secrets with the rest of the world. I read this through the first time as a pleasurable experience, enjoying each race across the U.S. I loved the people he met and the hardships that he overcame. I am now reading it again, highlighting all the tips. The biggest thing that jumped out at me was a cure for nausea while running. He suggests ginger. Either candied or just straight up ginger. Why didn't I think of this before? It's supposed to help with morning sickness while pregnant. But I didn't think about that connection. This is something I will be carrying with me and trying. I loved every minute of this book.
"Into Thin Air" by John Krakauer
While this is not a running book it is certainly about people doing extraordinary things. It is about a tragic climb to Mount Everest. If you think runner's are crazy... we've got nothing on these idiots. Even after reading it and "experiencing" the summit (for 5 minutes before going back down), I don't get it. It seems like a cold torture that last a couple of weeks and maybe months. But the will to survive and do something that seems impossible is gripping and exciting to read about.

What have you read lately that you can recommend?
I just started "The Running Life" by Donald Buraglio and Michael Dove. I will let you know how that one is when I'm done!


Candice @ I Have Run said...

I haven't read many running books but want to, so thanks for the suggestions. I do read a lot though, so I could give you plenty of suggestions of other types of books. I even have a post on my blog about some books I have enjoyed:

Sam {} said...

Thanks for all these suggestions! I'm excited to pick up a few with my new vibrams obsession :)

Also, I'm very interested in the Ultra Marathon book. All I can say is WOW!

Hannah said...

My step Mom gave me "Born to run" on CD. I need to hurry up and listen to it - so many have recommended it!

Did Performance Nutrition for Runners have much in the way of anything for vegetarians?

I've been thinking of you so much, despite my lack of blog commenting! I'm going right now to re-read and catch up on commenting. :)

Doran & Jody said...

Not sure I could get into the running books. I also need to be entertained. Unless you find one like...."Running with a cookie in your hand and getting a PR at the same time."

Julie said...

I'm not big into running books either, but I did devour Ultramarathon Man before I gave it to my brother as a gift a few years ago.

I recommended a sweet little book to Chris K yesterday - have you read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie?

I loved it.

(Just) Trying is for Little Girls said...

Thanks for the book suggestions. I just put Dean's book on hold at the library!

Kathie said...

I am so glad you took the time to post this!!! As I have read through blogs this week, as well as establishing my running and getting more inlove with the sport, I found that it was time for me to start reading about it also but no real direction on where to start - because like you im a busy mom and my time is precious. I saw a few here i'd love to dig my nose into. Thanks so very much, Jen!

Stefanie D. said...

I have heard that Run: The mind-body method of running by feel By Matt Fitzgerald is good. I am actually going to go pick it up today!

KT80 said...

Ooooh, 'Performance Nutrition for Runners' looks really good. I will definitely be reading that! Thanks!

Alma said...

holy cow that's a lot of running books! i think i'll be the last runner to read Born to Run. Oh well. I'm finally getting to "run like a mother" right now. I'm very curious about all your barefoot running books. I wish we could go for a run together so i could watch you run and pick your brain about all this crazy business. my PT has me running barefoot ~ 5 min every other week to keep the technique fresh in my head but then wants me to mimic the style in shoes...i really struggle with switching to a mid-foot strike, especially when i'm tired & pushing the pace.

any plans to come to seattle anytime soon? :)

ashley & sundance said...

umm... young adult fiction books are my favorite. :) that and cheesy cowboy romances by Linda Lael Miller. *swoon* they make me want to move to a farm and ride horses all day. ;)

I need to get in on this running inspiration book reading... maybe that would help me kick my butt into gear for Ogden! :)

Anonymous said...

I need a book.. recently I've read Paleo diet for athletes, I just can't commit to no cheese. I have read a few of those on your list.

B.o.B. said...

If you like Into thin Air you may also like The Perfect Storm.

My favorite book of all time is a fiction work called Life of Pi.

KT80 said...

I actually ordered the Runner's World one last night; it looks really good! Thanks!
- KT80,

Wendy said...

I'm hoping to read Kristin Armstrong's Mile Markers book that's coming out this week.