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Articles > Useful and Inspiring Books for the Endurance Athlete

by Peter Holleran

   The following list of personal favorites is short but sweet, representing a handful of books,
both practical and inspiring, to complement others previously recommended.

(1) Cycling Past 50, by Joe Friel (1988, Human Kinetics)

A complete guide to training, racing, avoiding injury, and getting psyched for the aging

“It’s easy to find excuses, or reasons, why something is outside our realm of
possibiities. The most common reason is age. “I’m too old,” is another way of
saying, “I don’t believe I can, and age is the best reason I can find.” Riders in
their 80’s and 90’s compete on the track and roads, complete century rides, ride
coast to coast, and accomplish more than most Americans in their 30’s. They don’t
use age as an excuse, they use it as a reason to keep going. They believe in
themselves. You can, too.”

(2) It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, by Lance Armstrong
(2000, G.P. Putnams Sons)

Inspiring account of how the six-time winner of the Tour de France overcame
cancer and returned to world class cycling.

(3) How to be a Champion from 9 to 90: Body, Mind, and Spirit Training, by Earl W. Fee
( 2001, Feetness, Inc.)

Secrets of a legendary world’s master’s runner, written in the present tense at the
age of 73.

(4) Masters Running and Racing for Runners Over 40, by Bill Rodgers and Priscilla Welch
(1991, Rodale Press)

Useful advice for older runners. Cited by marathon great Jack Foster as the
inspiration for him to compete again at age 60.

(5) Heart Rate Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot, by John L. Parker, Jr.
(1998, Cedar Winds Publishing Company)

For the runner, triathlete, cyclist, and fitness buff. From the author of the classic
Once A Runner.

(6) In Fitness and Health, by Dr. Phil Maffetone (1997, Phil Maffetone)

How to avoid illness, injury, adrenal stress, overtraining, and burnout by staying
in the aerobic zone.

(7) Running with the Legends: Training and Racing Insights from 21 Great Runners,
by Michael Sandrock (1996, Human Kinetics)

Hugely motivating and inspiring stories and advice from the champions.

(8) A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning, Ed. by Don Allison (2003,
Ultra Running Publishers)

Covers all aspects of training and preparation for the sport, with lots of historical and
biographical information on famous athletes and races.

(9) Come Run with Me, by Peter Strudwick (1979, Exposition Press)

Amazing story of a runner born with no feet who ran the Pikes Peak Marathon.
“Call me a fanatic if you wish--and you’ll be right. But I’ll be out there running and
talking until I’m as old as the mountains. And if in my last race the mountain is too
steep to run, I’ll jog it. And if I can’t jog, I’ll walk. And if I can’t walk, I’ll crawl on all
fours. And when I can no longer crawl, I’ll shout words of fire and glory to those
around me and die with my face to the finish line, and a thousand others swifter
than I will take my place.”

(10) Racing with the Antelope: What Animals Can Teach Us About Running and Life,
by Bernd Heinrich (2001, Cliff Street Books)

Fascinating, often lyrical account of the physiology of long-distance running and
its parallels in many animal species. Suggests how and why running is an integral
part of what makes us human. All told within the backdrop of the author’s training for
and winning the North American 100 Kilometer Championship race.

(11) Beyond Winning: The Timeless Wisdom of Great Philosopher Coaches, by Gary M, Walton, 1991, Human Kinetics Publishers.

Not exclusively about endurance sports, but an inside look at how the great coaches train the whole person and not just the body. "Like the philosopher kings of ancient times, these six coaches (Vince Lombardi • James "Doc" Counsilman • Woody Hayes • Brutus Hamilton • John Wooden • Percy Cerutty) shared a common wisdom, vision, and commitment. They believed a valiantly fought defeat is better than a poorly played victory. In Beyond Winning: The Timeless Wisdom of Great Philosopher Coaches, Gary Walton reveals the thoughts and teachings that made these legendary coaches successful—in sport and life. You'll get an intimate look at how each coach followed a different path in his pursuit of excellence."

(12) Running through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon, ed. by Neal Jamison (2003, Breakaway Books)

39 inspiring stories by ultramarathoners of all abilities.

(13) The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper (1930, 1976, Platt & Munk)

The original classic that is still as true as ever.
If only real life were that simple. (Hint: maybe it is?)

(14) Are You As Happy As Your Dog? by Alan Cohen (1996, Alan Cohen Publications)

Subtitled: "Sure-Fire Ways to Wake Up with a Smile as Big
as Your Pooch’s". A neat little book that should be in any coach
or therapist's office.