Books + Training

‘Tis the season to hit the pavement.

Last Sunday I participated in my very first Sun Run–one of the largest road races in North America and the unofficial start to the Vancouver road-racing season. The race itself was a bit of a zoo as I jostled along with 50,000 other runners trying to reach the end, however the sun was out and there were free bananas at the end so really, what’s not to love?

A few months ago, I set my ambitions high and signed up for three big races however a string of injuries and illnesses has forced me to scale back these lofty goals. That being said, I’m still committed to keeping my training schedule going as best I can, and hope to complete at least one of the races.

Ironically, one of my most successful motivating tools also happens to be one of my favorite lazy-days activities: diving into a great book. More specifically, a good listen.

When the sky is drizzling and my couch is calling my name, often the only way I’ll pull my shoes on and hit the road is if I’ve got a good book waiting in my earbuds. As you may know from some of my earlier posts, the library has a huge selection of downloadable audiobooks to choose from using Overdive. Below you’ll find a list of both audio, and hardcover books to choose from to inspire whatever goal you’re training for.

Born to Run by Christopher MacDougall 220px-Born2run

There is something “meta” about listening to an analysis of why and how people have run for millennia….. while feeling as though you’ve been running for millennia. In this book author Christopher MacDougall sets off on an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, MacDougall finds a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it.


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running;  A Memoir by Haruki Murakami murakami

Another great “meta-book” about how running benefits the body and mind, this audiobook solidified my love of distance running and helped me to understand its connection to mindfulness. I’m a big Murakami fan–however listeners be warned:  I will say that I found it a bit odd, if not disconcerting, to listen to an American voice actor read Murakami’s words as he describes his life growing up in Japan. Print or audio- it’s your choice, but don’t miss out on this terrific story.

In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and–even more important–on his writing.

Running With the Kenyans; Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn runningwithkenyays

Whether running is your recreation, your religion, or just a spectator sport, Adharanand Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate and inspire you. Part travelogue, part memoir, this mesmerizing quest to uncover the secrets of the world’s greatest runners–and put them to the test–combines practical advice, a fresh look at barefoot running, and hard-won spiritual insights. As a boy growing up in the English countryside, Adharanand Finn was a natural runner. While other kids struggled, he breezed through schoolyard races, imagining he was one of his heroes: the Kenyan long-distance runners exploding into prominence as Olympic and world champions. But as he grew up, pursued a career in journalism, married and had children, those childhood dreams slipped away–until suddenly, in his mid-thirties, Finn realized he might have only one chance left to see how far his talents could take him. Uprooting his family of five, including three small children, Finn traveled to Iten, a small, chaotic town in the Rift Valley province of Kenya–a mecca for long-distance runners thanks to its high altitude, endless running paths, and some of the top training schools in the world. Finn would run side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls, and barefoot schoolchildren. not to mention the exotic–and sometimes dangerous–wildlife for which Kenya is famous. Here, too, he would meet a cast of colorful characters, including his unflappable guide, Godfrey Kiprotich, a former half marathon champion; Christopher Cheboiboch, one of the fastest men ever to run the New York City Marathon; and Japhet, a poor, bucktoothed boy with unsuspected reservoirs of courage and raw speed. Amid the daily challenges of training and of raising a family abroad, Finn would learn invaluable lessons about running–and about life. Running with the Kenyans is more than one man’s pursuit of a lifelong dream. It’s a fascinating portrait of a magical country–and an extraordinary people seemingly born to run.



Finally, once you’re ready to get out there why not switch things up and hit the trails! As an outdoor-aholic, I 100% prefer trail running and find it easier not only on the body but the brain as well. Below is an excellent guide that outlines Vancouver’s best trails.

Vancouver Trail Running; The Good, the Bad & the Gnarly by Rich Wheater

vantrailrunThis book is a guide to 44 trail running routes in Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Moody, and on the North Shore, areas with ideal terrain for off-road running. The routes range from beginner jogs on flat, manicured paths to challenging mountain routes that take runners into lush and wild terrain. Most of the routes travel through a rainforest brimming with second-growth cedar, Douglas fir, and western hemlock trees. Several of the runs follow scenic seaside routes. The book includes 100 colour photographs.


Happy trails!!!

-Mikale Fenton

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