Each year, the most popular New Year’s resolutions involve improvements to health. The one New Year’s resolution I’m able to keep, year after year, is the resolution to continue to run. I don’t know why, but I have no problem sticking with it (unlike my resolutions to become more organized, to learn to speak Spanish, or to stop watching Dance Moms). But if you’ve resolved to take up running or start back on it—or if you’re thinking about once and for all throwing away your New Balances—here are some books about running to maybe provide a little inspiration. Or at least some good reading!
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This is the book that got me and thousands (millions?) of other folks running barefoot or in Vibram FiveFingers shoes. My overexcitement about these shoes caused me to overdo it, and I ended up with a foot injury—but I don’t blame the book. (Now I compromise by running in “minimalist” shoes.) It’s my favorite running book, and a thrilling adventure tale, a travelogue and a social history. Resolution addendum #1: Run comfortably!
Running Injury-Free by Joe Ellis. Speaking of the inevitable running-related injuries, it’s good to have this little book on hand. I have found that it’s a good reference to use when bad things happen because you didn’t read about the injuries before you got them, as the author intended. Resolution addendum #2: Run safely!
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon. I recently read an article noting research findings about running. They now say that too much of a good thing, particularly when you’re over 50 (I’m 59), is not a good thing. More than about 20 miles a week, at about eight minutes per mile, according to this research, and you may be flirting with hardening of the arteries and atrial fibrillation. Still, I have had this crazy goal to do a marathon, and despite respiratory issues, it remains on my list. Friends say that this book is the best resource for that goal. Resolution addendum #3: Run a marathon, comfortably and safely!
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Three things drew me to this fine little book: its title is a reference to another fine little book, a short story collection by Raymond Carver; the author is a good writer; and it’s all about the idea of running. Resolution addendum #4: Run thoughtfully!
Trail Running: From Novice to Master by Poulin, Swartz and Flaxel. If “appreciation of nature” is on your list of resolutions, you can kill two birds with one stone (metaphorically, of course) by finding some nice trails to run. I know I feel invigorated when I occasionally get away from concrete, smog and the iPod and run the trails. Resolution addendum #5: Run wild!
And to note some other writing-on-running that’s not pedestrian (pun intended), here are some also-rans (pun intended, again): The Runner’s Literary Companion, Benjamin Cheever’s Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete, and Peter Nabokov’s Indian Running.
What’s your favorite running book? — Steve