What I read about when I read about running...

  • Posted on: 12 May 2014
  • By: Vincent

I started the recent May bank holiday weekend by tumbling off the bike on the way home from work on Friday evening. A few hours later I walked out of UCH stitched, plastered and patched. My plans for the weekend were just as tattered.

Fortunately it was only a couple of days since I'd visited Westside Library. Many of you will know this as the congregation point for a multitude of runners on Monday and Thursday evenings who get to run with guidance from Bernie and a team of volunteer leaders. I've been lucky that it's my local library since it opened in January 2004.

If you haven't ventured inside there's a treat awaiting you. It's one of the nicest library's I've had the pleasure to frequent. Apart from the lovely building, good reading and study spaces it's also staffed by some of the most helpful librarians I've encountered. Dee, one of the team there, introduced me to the dedicated running section when I last visited. What a treasure trove it was. I saw copies of many books I own myself but a lot of new books I don't have.

Along with a great selection of running, triathlon, and nutrition books there was a shelf of DVDs. I left the building that evening "fully loaded" with five books and a DVD, all out of the running section. It's not unknown for me to leave with a full stack, but typically I'd bring many back having got no further than the back cover, and maybe a page or two inside. But

this time I had time stretching out in front of me with neither the ability, energy or motivation to do anything other than watch and read. After watching the DVD on great endurance runners I got into the reading material. Here's what I got through:

  • Running With Lydiard: great book setting out the basis for endurance training with long steady distance running from the master himself. Not a good manual though.
  • Once a Runner (John Parker): Novel about the training and competition of a college athlete miler. A book I'd often heard about but hadn't read before. Well worth reading.
  • The Greatest - The Haile Gebreselassie Story: this is a really well written biography of the outstanding World & Olympic 10,000m champion. It's a great story and gives an insight into an intelligent, committed and sincere athlete. It was an inspirational read. Halie comes through as a hard worker, a leader and an exceptional talent.
  • Brain Training for Runners (Matt Fitzgerald): expands on Tim Noake's "central governer" model of fatigue and performance. Some good ideas in here, but much felt like a weak repackaging of material I've seen in Lydiard, Jack Daniels, Joe Friel. The drills section looked good though.
  • The Feed Zone - Fast and Flavourful Food for Athletes (Thomas, Lim): who can leave a library or a bookshop without a cookbook? This is a real drool-fest, but starts with a long introduction about pro-cycling so all indulgence is forgiven.

and one I bought:

  • A Life Without Limits (Chrissie Wellington): autobiography. Clearly she's an amazing triathlete wining the Ironman world championships (and other races). Her own story touching on her struggle with personal demons and an unsettled direction in her life until she accidentally discovered she was a superb triathlete. She's a better athlete than writer, but it's an engaging book. Suffered badly when read next to "The Greatest" though.

It'll be a while before I'm swimming and biking again, but just over a week after my fall I'm back gentle running. It's amazing how quickly the body can recover. I won't get to read so much now, but next time I do I'll be straight over to Westside to see what else is in the running section. I hope you haven't taken all the good stuff before I get there.