I am a fan of audiobooks. They are so much easier to consume than physical books, I can put one on when I am commuting from place to place, when I am cooking at home or clearing up, or on a long uneventful training run.. on a treadmill for example! I have a pile of unread books on my bedside table but I easily smash through one new audiobook a month.
Another reason why I like audiobooks is that like many other ultra runner parents and business owners, I rarely sit down and relax to read a book. There is always something to do and guilt feelings aside, when I do, I normally fall asleep in a nano second!
But I do own physical books which I read, of titles which have passed my system:
1. Test of fire: Just by listening to the first thirty minutes of a book, I get a feeling if a book is for me. If I have any second thoughts, I'll stop listening and return it right away. I won't be able to push through. I tried before.
2. Listen to it once: Passed the first half hour, I am typically excited about the book and I listen to it whenever I can. I go through the story/topic relatively quickly to get an overall feeling.
3. Listen to it again: Admittedly, you can miss a lot of the content when you listen to the book while multitasking. So, if the book has left a sign, I will listen to it again with more intention. This will normally happen within 2 months.
4, Buy the hardcopy: When I get to this stage, the book is worth the physical space in my library or bedside table and becomes material for research or reference.
Here below the 5 "running" books in my collection
BORN TO RUN - by Christopher McDougall
I must have read this book 5 times. I am not a fan of the whole argument about barefoot running (although to some extend I agree with the principle) but the description of the Tarahumara, Caballo Blanco and mexican canyons inspired me so much I actually went to run the race in 2014. And what an experience that was.
The book gives a good representation of why and how the Tarahumara run, and this struck a chord with me. They run just because they can run and they enjoy it - that's what it is all about most times.
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? - by Matt Fitzgerald
This was my source of inspiration when training for the 24h treadmill record attempt. Through more than a dozen stories, the author make the case that only mental strength and resilience allow us to truly reach or get close to our true physical limits. I used this book as base from which to build my mindset for the 24h treadmill challenge, and I will keep building on it.
THE MINDFUL ATHLETE - By George Mumford
The title says it all. This book is about the importance of mindfulness for athletes and I think it has particular relevance for ultra running. This was also mind training material for my 24h treadmill record attempt. The big takeaways for me from the book were the acceptance of being uncomfortable and the search for the ultimate prize - being truly in the moment.
OPEN, An Autobiography - By Andre Agassi
Ok, this is not about running. It's a very raw and powerful autobiography by the legendary Andre Agassi. I grew up watching him playing and at the same time I had no idea of the story behind the man: his strength of mind and how much work he put in to become the legend he is. It helped me put things in perspective. Now when I hurt during training I know it only minimally compares to the warm up sessions his dad put him through when he was a kid. From his book I stole the routine of standing for a couple of minutes under a very hot shower before any important event in my life or race. It gets the weakness out of the body
START WITH WHY - By Simon Sinek
ok ok ok. This is definitely NOT a running book! But it may as well be my favourite book of all time. It has changed the way how I look at the world and myself and the way I communicate to others. Simon makes the point that successful leaders and companies are successful because they operate and communicate in the total opposite way of everybody else; the WHY they do something is more important than the HOW and WHAT. To apply this to running, the book has taught me to reflect on the WHY behind any race or challenge I take on. When the WHY is powerful enough and it is true and in line with my moral compass, I found I can endure all the pain and struggle of training, lack of sleep, setbacks, etc.. and achieve things I previously thought were out of my range. Pretty powerful stuff.