Something a little different for the blog this go round. My wife, Jen, serves as the inspiration for this post.
Jen and I met 23 years ago this month while running in opposite directions on a frigid morning in Connecticut. Normally a bit shy around girls, I got a wild hair, turned around and tried to chat her up, poorly I might add, but I must have done something right. We hit it off quickly, and the rest, as they say is history.
23 years later, she continues to amaze and inspire me and others. She currently works as a senior civilian in an extremely challenging position for the US Coast Guard, and is a highly regarded leader in government information technology. On top of that, over the last 3 years she has worked extremely hard in her free time to become an accomplished author under the pen name J.B. Rockwell. To date, she has several short story credits to her name and 4 novels, each one receiving good reviews and seeing increased popularity as she continues to hone her craft and works to grow her audience. She has left competitive running behind, but she still runs nearly every day, often in conditions that would make even the hardiest competitors think twice.
In honor of the positive influence Jen has had on my life, and the recent release of her latest book Serengeti, here are 5 books that that have influenced me as an athlete and coach, some through education, and some through inspiration. Maybe they will influence you or someone you know as well.
The Wormburners by John Craig
I picked up this book in junior high and the story always kind of stuck with me. It’s about an informal inner city cross country running club and how the members used it as an outlet for the challenges in their daily lives and found commonality in their commitment to the sport and its challenges. Even at a young age, I could really the relate to the “do it for the love of the sport” and “embrace and enjoy the process of improvement” aspects of the book which are themes I tend to stress with my athletes.
The Cyclists Training Bible by Joe Friel
I read this when I first transitioned from multi sport to cycling in the early 2000’s, and it provides a lot of detail on general training philosophies and structured approaches for cyclists. You may love or hate “formalized” training, but if you are a cyclist adhering to any type of generally accepted training approach, its likely based in some part on ideas in this book and/or from its author.
The Self-Coached Runner: Cross Country & the Shorter Distances by Allan Lawrence
Another book from junior high. I picked this up when I was trying to figure out how to train for local youth track meets. This really got me interested in the “process” from a more structured standpoint and helped me understand how to train as a runner. Despite the book’s age, and advances in sports science and gadgetry, the fundamentals in it are still sound.
Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan
I bought and poured through this book in the mid 2000’s as I started to see I had some ability as a cyclist and incorporated a power meter in my training. Even though some of the equipment sections are dated, it’s the most complete outline on how and why to use power for cycling and is a fantastic reference for any coach or athlete that wants to know more about using power as a tool.
Once A Runner by John L Parker
My all-time favorite athletics book. It follows the “miles of trials” of fictional collegiate runner Quenton Cassidy in pursing running a 4 minute mile. But it is so much more. It’s an honest, inspirational read that really captures the soul of elite level running written by someone who has been close to the top of the sport. The author really has a talent for articulating what drives passionate runners to do the crazy things they do. Its core themes are running related, but I think any endurance athlete can relate to the themes of dedication, passion and borderline obsession.