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August 16, 2014

Five Summer Reading Books for Runners

Written by Dena Evans

imgresThe dog days of summer hopefully allow each of us a bit of time on a hammock or a sandy towel. Even if your relaxation time is just a train or a plane to another work commitment, here are a few selections to consider for runners looking to pass the hours, give themselves a distraction, or just take a break.


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Written by Laura Hillenbrand, the author who brought us the story of Seabiscuit, this tale tells the story of Louis Zamperini, 1936 Olympic 5000m runner.  While about a runner and a successful one at that, this volume focuses on the amazing trials, tribulations, and will to live Zamperini experienced and displayed after crashing in a B-24 hundreds of miles from land during World War II.  With the film version (produced by Angelina Jolie) set to come to movie screens in the upcoming months, you’ll want to get your hands on the book in advance, and find out how the strong will of a committed distance runner played into unimaginable challenges in a completely different context.


Born to Run:  A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Former war correspondent Christopher McDougall has a foot problem, and a combination of frustration, curiosity, and fortuitous circumstances suddenly find him completely enmeshed in the culture of the amazingly gifted Tarahumara Indian tribe in the Copper Canyons area of Mexico.  Examining a variety of aspects of running, including footwear, diet, genetics, and more, McDougall challenges and explores many aspects of running the average athlete seldom questions.  If you are curious about why many runners are interested in minimal shoes or barefoot running, this book will lead you right to the source.


Run to Overcome:  The Inspiring Story of an American Champion’s Long Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream

Runcoach board member Meb Keflezighi became a household name this year with his win at the Boston Marathon, but his resume already included a win at the New York Marathon, an Olympic Silver medal and much more.  Years before the accolades, Keflezighi’s family escaped war torn Eritrea to eventually end up in San Diego, where Meb earned a scholarship to UCLA and began his ascent to the top of the distance running world.  If you are looking for inspiration from a true embodiment of the American Dream, look no further than this book!


Once a Runner

Most runners would agree – there should be more novels written about distance running!  Until that time, you can’t go wrong with a classic of the narrow shelved genre, Once a Runner.  The story of Quenton Cassidy as told by author John L. Parker illustrates how one top flight athlete navigates the various crossroads faced while pursuing his singleminded goal of distance running excellence at the glamorous mile distance.  Originally self published in 1978, this book has enjoyed several subsequent printings and carries with it an almost cultish cache among many distance running fans.  Definitely near the top of the list of the canon and worth a read.


The Perfect Mile:  Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It

Even non-runners are familiar with the name Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile under 4 minutes.  However, hardly anyone realizes how close it was to being another name that we remembered for the ages, 60 years past that historic day of May 6, 1954.  The details of the successful record attempt are enjoyable as the details of the efforts by John Landy and Wes Santee to be the first to achieve the feat as well. Neal Bascomb explores that special time from all angles and provides us with a greater understanding about the well spring from where both Bannister’s mile and the subsequent 1300 or so men who have broken that mark since might have come from.



While there are plenty more worthy tomes available at local bookstores and online, we hope you have a chance to check out these or other great running books, and understand a bit more depth about the historical underpinning of the sport you enjoy.

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