Over the years I have collected a variety of books on running, from technical training advice to inspirational stories.
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The wealth of information provided from a good running resource can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and learning the hard way. Here are a few of the books in my library that may be of interest to you:
HOW-TO BOOKS ON RUNNING
For the runner just starting out, I would recommend "Galloway's Book on Running," by Jeff Galloway. He includes a history of running, basic running principles, and numerous topics such as running form, what to eat and injury prevention.
Many people training for their first marathon follow Galloway's training plan, which encourages walk breaks during long training runs.
He also includes easy-to-follow training plans in his book.
A more technical, training-focused, research-based book is "Daniels' Running Formula."
A well-known exercise physiologist, Jack Daniels provides a wealth of information on training for and racing distances from the 1,500-meter to the marathon.
He breaks training into four periods with detailed workout descriptions for each phase.
A book I learned about while training for my first marathon is "The New York Road Runners' Club Complete Book of Running and Fitness."
This book by Fred Lebow, Gloria Averbuch and friends, provided a practical, manageable, 26-week intermediate marathon training schedule that worked well for me for 10 marathons. I also enjoyed the chapters on "Eating Elite - Recipes" and reading about the role models in "Aging and Exercise." The book covers a myriad of topics and lists numerous resources such as clubs, coaches, books, magazines, and Web sites.
INSPIRATIONAL RUNNING BOOKS
For inspirational reading, try "Personal Best" by George Sheehan, M.D., who for years wrote a column for Runner's World magazine.
The book is a collection of philosophical essays about the link between the body and the mind. Sheehan writes about the mental and spiritual aspects of running and how it promotes personal growth.
He concludes that running is a source of health, contributes to self-esteem and provides a circle of like-minded friends.
He says, "The philosophy of running is the philosophy of holism ... to function as you are supposed to function to achieve your personal best."
Recently, I've come across a book that has made a huge difference in my running life. It's called "Chi Running" by Danny Dreyer and it is a revolutionary approach to effortless, injury-free running. Chi running focuses on relaxing muscles, opening tight joints and using gravity rather than building bigger muscles to do the work. It also teaches the concept of using core muscles as a source of strength when running.
The chapters in the book compare and contrast Chi running with power running, the current method. A lot of the book deals with form and posture, and includes many exercises, drills and tips to help the reader understand the new techniques.
Dreyer ends the book by extending the Chi running concept into a Chi living approach to life - an intriguing concept I think.
I hope these reading suggestions will be of value to those of you who are looking for more information about running, whether you are a serious competitor or in it for the health and social benefits. Whatever your goals are, you will want to stay informed in order to make the most out of your favorite sport.
Nancy Thomas is a former Juneau-Douglas High School running coach and past president of the Southeast Road Runners. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.