Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Club: 5 Training Books to Read or Skip

Disclaimers: I received a copy of To The Finish Line from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.   I received a copy of The 30-Minute Runner from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

Spring is in the air and it's race season everywhere! Maybe you're training for a spring marathon or a half-marathon. Or maybe you're branching out into triathlon. Whatever it is, I've been busy reading and getting ready to share some books with you that are guaranteed to enhance your training. I'm spring cleaning and I've got 5 book reviews for this special training edition of the book club!



Meb for Mortals by Meb Keflezighi and Scott Douglas

I was fortunate to meet and spend time with Meb a few years ago at an intimate gathering with a few other bloggers prior to the Chicago Marathon. I was late to the meet-and-greet and as I rushed in the door, he came over to greet me, taking both my hands in his and welcoming me. Swoon! Throughout the evening, I was struck at what a nice person and how "normal" he was, in spite of his legendary running career. His book, Meb for Mortals, further cements that image as a "regular runner", at least in my mind. This book is a training manual of Meb's tips and is geared for those of us looking for longevity on the road. If anyone is proof of that, one needs to look no further than his Boston Marathon win at age 38 and his Olympic team qualification at age 41.


This book read like a personal conversation with Meb. He shares training tips and also real-life experiences. My favorite tip?
"I usually wear sunglasses in a race if it's a sunny day. This is not because of the sun but to help keep my head at the right level." ~ Meb Keflezighi
Meb is big on cross-training and he does share his love for his ElliptiGo bike. In fact, if I had any quibbles about the book, it's that he drops his sponsors' names quite often. I can appreciate loyalty but it was a bit much. Still, that was a minor distraction for me. The book is so full of great advice that I know I'll be going back to it when I need a little motivation. If you want to run like Meb, this is the book for you.

The verdict: READ


To Be A Runner by Martin Dugard

You may recognize Dugard from some of his other works including Survivor, which was written during the first season of the eponymous show. To Be A Runner was written as the author's own Running and Being by George Sheehan. I read To Be A Runner seven years ago and while I don't remember many details of the book, the book stuck with me as one of my favorites. This book is a collection of essays and reflections on the author's experience with life and running. For this post, I needed to revisit it and I'm glad I did. 

Each chapter is an anecdote and reflection on running. He also shares training tips, but those are scattered throughout the book. This is a book for runners who love to run. I found it completely inspirational. It is an easy read and extremely relatable. I'm a different runner than I was 7 years ago, but the book is no less relevant. 
"When would crossing the finish line of yet another superhuman test of endurance make me feel complete? A still, small voice in my head reminded me that the time I'd been happiest in my athletic life was when I was just a runner. Just a guy who laced up his shoes and ran because it felt good. That was enough." ~ Martin Dugard, To Be A Runner
Dugard shares on his blog that he is working on a new edition of To Be A Runner that will be released in 2019. In the meantime, we've got this collection of essays and that's good enough for me.


The verdict: READ

To the Finish Line by Chrissie Wellington

If you are a triathlete or considering triathlon, you need this book. While I am neither, I was really interested to read what 4 time Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington had to say. This is a very comprehensive manual of everything you need to know to do a triathlon. Besides the information you would expect to find in a book about training, there are also sections on setting goals, strength and nutrition, psychology, and rest and recovery. She also shares her thoughts on being an active mom.

I may have skimmed over the swimming section, but I was interested in what she had to say about running and cycling. My favorite section of the book was on psychology.  Chrissie believes (and states) that preparing your mind is as important as preparing your body. She shares that she posts positive mantras on her race wristband, water bottles, and bike and that she draws inspiration from her pre-race playlist.

And by the way, recovery is recovery. It is not wasted time, but time to give your body the rest it needs.
"It is not the swim/bike/run sessions or the races that will make you fitter, it is the recovery... It's all too easy to cross the line and immediately focus on the next goal, yet effective recovery is vital. " ~ Chrissie Wellington
I really enjoyed this very comprehensive training bible. The book is well written and Chrissie's love for the sport shines through. Even if you aren't training for a triathlon, there's plenty of applicable advice here for everyone.

The verdict: READ

The 30 Minute Runner by Duncan Larkin and Dr. Mike Moreno

I read all the books so you don't have to and I'm going to tell you that you don't have to read this one. Geared towards beginning runners, this training manual has all good intentions but the style of the book felt overwhelming, even to this experienced runner. The first red flag was in the beginning of the book, where the author, an accomplished marathoner shares that he's "one of you", a person who "doesn't look like a runner". After that statement, he goes on to share that he crossed the finish line of his first 26.2 after running "nearly 4 hours", but took his personal best down to 2:32. I had to read that statement multiple times and then I read the bio on the back page of the book. Yeah, he's been in our "proverbial running shoes"--his words, not mine. 

So, with that personal anecdote setting the tone for the book, Larkin lays out his plan in 6 steps: Commit (he recommends runners sign a contract with themselves), Learn, Train, Conquer, Sustain, and Thrive. I could be nitpicky about the writing style, with the frequent use of idioms or clich├ęs--my personal favorite, "having said that" is used quite often-- and lots of inaccuracies. Um, Mr. Duncan, the IT Band is not a muscle. On the plus, there is plenty of common sense information and training plans here. However, much of this information can be found on online and C25k apps. For new runners looking for a training guide, this one is kind of a mess. 

The verdict: SKIP

Run Fast Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

Shalane and Elyse were college roommates and the idea for this cookbook was born after a reunion where they shared dinner. They reminisced about college and talked about food. The goal of the cookbook would be to celebrate whole foods and show how indulging in real food will help runners train and perform better as well as improved their overall health.

Sign me up. Anyone who reads my blog knows that while I eat healthily, I don't follow any sort of diet or focus on carbs vs protein vs fat. If anything, I'm all about reducing inflammation, and an anti-inflammatory diet is by nature a healthy diet. I was really interested in this cookbook for that reason alone. What sold me was that Shalane tested every recipe in the book.

Besides the recipes, there are lists of pantry essentials that every healthy kitchen should have on hand. Some of the items might be hard to find at the grocery store, like teff flour, but with access to the internet, readers should be able to order them if interested. The recipes, for the most part, look really delicious. I haven't tried any of them yet but am definitely interested in many of them. Fartlek Chili, anyone? There are also desserts.

I love the idea of promoting healthy, balanced eating and Eat Fast Run Slow does a fantastic job with that. If you love to eat and are looking for a healthy, motivating cookbook, this one should be part of your library.

The verdict: READ

Four out of five isn't bad! Have you read any of these books? Share your feedback in the comments. If you've done a review on your blog and would like me to share the link, please send it to me and I'll add it. Please link back to this post! P.S. I apologize for the formatting issues. Blogger has been messing with me lately!



Next month is the long-awaited Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor! Deena sent me a copy to read and I'm so excited to share it with you.



I'm linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five!






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26 comments :

  1. The Christie Wellington book is on my list! I used to be so good at reading and I have fallen off of the wagon somehow. Thanks for the reminder! Hope you have a fun weekend in FL

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    1. I've been a reading machine this winter! Both fiction and non-fiction. I do love to read.

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  2. Added some of these to my reading list! Thanks for the suggestions! I hope you have a great weekend. :-)

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    1. Enjoy the books and let me know what you think!

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  3. I love reading your reviews so I don't have to read the books. :-O
    I need that lesson on recovery, though.

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    1. I'm not so good at recovery either...

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  4. I think Meb is so amazing! I had a chance for a photo op with him last year and even then he was so friendly and gracious. He’s such a great ambassador for our sport. I really need to read his book.

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    1. I want to read his life story. It's on my to-read list!

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  5. I loved Meb's book. I swear he's the most extraordinary "regular guy" I know. Haha! I've heard of all these (and read 2) except the one you recommended to skip. Looks like I'll skip!

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    1. Yeah, it wasn't good. The only good thing about it was that it was a quick read.

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  6. I love Run Fast Eat Slow. I'm a picky eater, and there are quite a few recipes I've already tried. I do swap out kale, because just no, no on kale. My favorite is a really easy fish recipe that my parents love as well.

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  7. I wish I could be dedicated enough to read running books.haha. However I did read "Running like a girl" and really enjoyed it!

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    1. You might really enjoy Deena Kastor's upcoming book--I'm breezing through it. It's THAT GOOD.

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  8. I haven't read a running book in years, but I'd pick Meb's book first if I wanted to put down my knitting needles and read instead. Thank you for reading and giving us the mini book reports!

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    1. I love to read and I love to run, so it's all good!

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  9. Ahhh, Meb....isn't he just the nicest?!! I met him a few years ago at the Bix, a few months after he'd won Boston. Yes, #SWOON ;-) I think I'm the last person in the running world to not have acqired the Run Fast, Eat Slow book. I have heard so many awesome things about it, though. I can honestly say I will never do an Ironman (possibly a sprint tri...someday...possibly), but Chrissie Wellington's book sounds like a fun read...four championships??? Dang!

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    1. I bought EFRS for my Kindle--Amazon had a daily deal for 2.99 and I couldn't pass that up! Chrissie's book is a great read.

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  10. Thanks for the comprehensive book review! I think Meb seems so nice. I would love to meet him! I will definitely read his book.
    I have "Run Fast. Eat Slow." I am actually making the Pecan Butter Dark Chocolate Truffles...for the second time, right now (letting the pecan butter chill in the fridge). I also have tried and liked, the Super Hero Muffins. They are great with my morning coffee before I run.

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    1. I've heard from quite a few runners who love the Super Hero Muffins! I need to try those out.

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  11. Ive read the first and last one, and I agree they are good! As for the others, I'll need to check out the ones you recommended. Thanks for letting us know which one can be skipped:)

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    1. Yeah, that was not a good one at all! I don't give negative reviews very often--actually, this may be my first!

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  12. I have Shalane's book but I haven't made anything from it yet. I actually don't know if I'll keep it because the recipes are a touch complicated for me. Not for my ability but because of little kids, blah blah blah. Maybe I'll hang onto it for later.

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    1. I couldn't say no to a Kindle daily deal for Shalane's book--It was 2.99! Glad I got to get it, even if it's not a hard copy.

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  13. Good thing you trucked through The 30-Minute Runner--I kinda judge books by their titles so that would've been one I might have been interested in picking up! I've been hearing awesome things about Run Fast Eat Slow, so I may have to check that one out!!

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  14. I need to make it a point to read Meb's book for sure!

    Are you going to read Scott Jureks new book? We already pre-ordered the book.

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