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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Some great running-ish books (that are not Once A Runner)

If you are looking to add to your running literature repertoire, may I suggest ordering one (or all!) of the following:

1. How to Succeed in Sport and Life: Transforming Training into a Path of Discovery by Dan Millman

I love how Millman mixes eastern thought and religious traditions with modern psychology and neuroscience to create a very digestible handbook (only 166 pages) on how to integrate your mind and your body to get results. In particular, I really enjoyed his discussion on how parents can support their children's athletic aspirations.

2. What Drives Winning by Brett Ledbetter

Opening quote of this book: "Who you become as a result of the chase is the most important thing." -Dr. Jim Loehr. Gosh, I wish I had said that.

Gator Soccer Coach Becky Burleigh gave this book to me a couple years ago when she was generous enough to have a sit down chat with myself and my friend Cat about life, coaching, and female empowerment. (Well, truth be told, she gave the book to Cat, who coincidentally already had a copy. Cat could tell I was getting all excited in the presence of a book I hadn't read yet, so she bequeathed it to me. Thanks, Cat!) Anything recommended from successful women goes right to the top of my list. Excellent read if you are in a coaching role, or if you are interested in mindset work and coaching yourself (I mean, who isn't?).

3. Run by Ann Patchett

Looooove me some Ann Patchett. Seriously. Everything this woman writes is brilliant.

Ok, so this is a novel and it is not really about running, BUT one of the main characters is a promising youth runner. Also, the juicy plot involves political ambition, class conflicts, and major family drama. All the action takes place over a 24 hour period. In a snowstorm. IN BOSTON! Say no more. I am going to reread this right now.

4. Norwich. One Tiny Vermont Town's Secret to Happiness and Excellence. By Karen Crouse.

(My roommate jokes that all my books have some connection to New England. She is not wrong.)

Learn about how this small town (a village, really) in Vermont has earned this impressive statistic: 1 out of every 322 residents is an Olympian.

It's not the water. It's how the community works together and supports its young. So fascinating. Runner nerds: this is the town that raised 800 meter runner Andrew Wheating. This book, much like most of the state of Vermont, is utterly delightful. It will have you thinking deeply about how we as a society raise our kids. Going to have some maple syrup, now.

5. Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton

Hamilton was unquestionably America's best middle distance runner in the 1990s. Her personality on camera made her a fan FAVORite (sorry) and was a complete joy to watch compete. But her life had a dark side. Big time. This book is her story (with the help of Sarah Tomlinson) about how her life unraveled and how she nearly lost everything. She descended from the zenith of Pert Plus shampoo and Disney race spokesperson, a model of midwestern wholesomeness, to a Las Vegas high priced escort. Yep. Buckle up. It sounds dramatic and it is, but her story is one of a struggle with mental illness and ultimately, a very self-reflective tale on how to mend a life that became so very broken. It is quite inspiring.

6. Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

I can remember in 2000 we sent two athletes to compete in the Sydney Olympic Marathon: one woman and one man. That's it. (We were allowed to take three each.) We did not fill the team because, quite frankly, as a country, we were terrible at the distance events. Fast forward 4 years, and Deena Kastor comes sprinting into the Panathinoaikon Stadium in Athens, Greece to claim the bronze medal (and caused me to cry whilst watching a road race for the first time). A week later, her teammate Meb Keflezighi wins the silver for the USA in the mens' marathon. And just like that, American distance running became a part of the world competitive conversation. This book is a reflection by the leader of that movement.

Deena doesn't really go into detail about her workouts (although massive work and miles are very much implied), this book is about how she worked on her mindset to become a champion long before lining up for that momentous race in 2004.

My favorite part in this book is when a particularly juvenile male teammate (with whom Deena could totally keep up with on workouts, btw) told her she wasn't welcome on any of the (all-male) group runs because "we just don't like you". Fine, she thought. I'll just go workout on my own and we'll see who brings home an Olympic medal. And she did.

Happy reading, FitFooters! Stay well!


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