The Books To Add To Your Summer Reading List
If you’re off on your summer holidays soon it’s the perfect time to dip into some brilliant new books about all things running and sport. We’ve done the hard work for you, sieving through a pile of new sports books to present our top handful.
1. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
Next time you’re struggling during your run or workout, bear in mind what David Goggins has put his body through – I promise it will really help! A retired Navy SEAL, Goggins is the only man in history who has completed SEAL training, US Army Ranger School and the Air Force Tactical Air Controller Training. He is a former Guinness World Record holder, completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours.
It’s his start in life that makes his tale all the more impressive. Abused by his father and forced to work as a young child, Goggins transformed himself by changing the way he thought. Goggins’ belief is that most of us only tap in to a fraction of our abilities because we allow the voice in our head to tell us we are spent. He proves your body can handle just about anything, if you can change your mindset. After reading this book, you will want to push yourself deeper than you have ever done before. The perfect read before your next endurance race.
2. Footnotes – How Running Makes us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid
This book is not every runner’s cup of tea and I must admit that I considered giving up a couple of times. However, if you’re someone who loves english literature and are not too fussed about running times, this might be a book for you.
Cregan-Reid took up running by chance but discovered that he loves it, particularly barefoot running. He sets about to investigate why running means so much to so many by exploring all things running – including foot gait, treadmills, the impact of running on our intelligence etc. This takes him across continents and to some of the most advanced running laboratories in the world. He peppers his account with literary, philosophical and scientific references along the way.
I found the most interesting part of the book a discussion about “Runner’s High” including an account of a novelist, Scarlett Thomas who exercised obsessively, eventually developing overtraining syndrome. Her account is available here in the Guardian.
3. The Flexible Body by Roger Frampton
This is not a book designed to be read start-to-finish but one you can dip in and out of, depending on your interests. Roger Frampton, TED speaker, model and fitness instructor, explains how to regain the flexibility you had as a child.
Roger used to spend his time training in the gym but had his “light bulb” moment came when he attended an adult gymnastics class. Humiliated by a 6 year-old child he realised there and then that neither he nor any of the other adult participants were able to do the moves that the children could do very naturally.
In his brilliant book, Roger has put together a programme designed to take no more than 10 minutes a day in which you can regain your natural flexibility. Highly recommended by one of the previously least flexible people on the planet!
4. To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins
Last summer we reviewed Scott Jurek’s “North”, the story of his northbound run up the Appalachian trail on America’s East coast. This summer’s epic adventure read is “To Shake the Sleeping Self”, and a very different book it is too. Author Jedidiah Jenkins cycles south along the AmericanWest Coast from Seattle to Punta Arenas at the tip of Patagonia. Unlike Jurek he is no athlete, but a twenty something career changer. He had not cycled since a kid before stepping into his cleats at the start of his 18 month, 14,000 mile odyssey.
Initially Jenkins was prompted simply by the desire for an epic adventure before turning 30. However as the trip unfolds he also makes a long inner journey reconciling growing up in a conservative, Christian community while knowing he was gay. An engaging, honest book, which will appeal to athletes and less sporty types alike.
5. The World’s Fittest Book by Ross Edgley
If you’re unfamiliar with Ross Edgley’s mind-blowing swim round Britain, and how his tongue started to disintegrate in the salt water, you must have been living under a rock. With an exploit like that under his belt you feel he’s earned the right to subtitle this book “How to Train for Anything & Everything, Anywhere & Everywhere”.
By Edgley’s own admission this is not a traditional fitness book, but a wonderful mix of stories, workouts, training plans and nutrition/recipes. This is a book to selectively dip in and out of. For example, as someone whose main sport is running, some of the more hardcore chapters on strength training weren’t of great interest. I loved reading about his exploits though - full of bravado and humour. There’s his Mini marathon, which saw him drag a 1.4 tonne Mini car round the Silverstone track for 26.2 miles. Or his Tree-athlon, where he completed an Olympic distance triathlon carrying a 45 kg tree the entire way. Prepare to be inspired.
6. Sevens Heaven: The Beautiful Chaos of Fiji's Olympic Dream by Ben Ryan
It is late summer 2013. Ben Ryan is given 20 minutes to decide whether he wants to coach Fiji's rugby sevens team, with the aim of taking them to the nation's first-ever Olympic medal. He has never been to Fiji, and there has been no discussion of contracts or salary. But he knows that no one plays rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands, just as no one plays football like the kids from the Brazilian favelas.
Rugby fan or not, Sevens Heaven is a fantastic story of cultural awareness, building high performance teams, self realisation and national unity. Written with passion and honesty, Ryan invites us into the contrasting world of Fiji and its people and the challenges of international and Olympic Sport. Staying true to your values - "The standard you walk past is the standard you become" - is a running theme of this book, and should be a mantra for us all.
If you've read any brilliant new sports books, please email us at email@example.com. Thanks!