After having run for my life at the Pukkelpop festival (some drama intended, I got away relatively ok, although it was a rather scary experience), I remembered reading about people who really ran for their lives. People whose job was running or who had to run to provide in food.
So since I’m not running due to the knee injury (well, take that with a grain of salt, I’ve been running for the last two days, don’t tell the doctor!), I thought I might as well give you all some reading advise in case you end up stuck in your bed / chair one day, unable to run. A disclaimer is in place though: some of these books on running, especially the last one, will make you want to run.
Oh, I’ve added amazon links everywhere. For all Belgian folks: Shipping is free if you order over 15€ on FR, 20€ on DE or 25£ on the UK site.
What better way to start than with the first book on running I read since I re-discovered running: “What I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Muarakami. Murakami is in the first place a writer and in the second place a runner. This is what sets him apart from pretty much every other book I’ll mention. He took on running to keep him healthy. He claims all writer have a tendency to go for self destruction, and this is his way to canalize that drive into a good thing. This was a fun read, although he tends to write too much about writing and too little about running in my opinion.
Since I started with the fist book I read, I might as well continue in chronological order and go on with the second one, right? “Born to run” by Christopher McDougall is more of a documentary. McDougall takes you with him on his search for a mythical figure, a Western guy who, legend has it, was the only one to be taken into the Tarahumara tribe (which are known for their exceptional endurance runs). The entire book reads like a plead for barefoot running. McDougal has a strong tendency to sound like one of those preacher dudes, but all in this book got me thinking about the way I run.
The next one is more of a fun book to have than it’s an actual reading book. My version is in Dutch, but the original version is English and called “Extreme running” by Kym McConnell. It’s one of those so called “coffee table” books. It discusses 24 of the toughest races in the world, each and every one of them simply astonishing. Although some obvious ultra trails are left out for unknown reasons (Himal Race anyone?), this is really fun to skip through every now and then.
The next book isn’t a novel either. It’s more of a guide to working towards goals in running. It has training schedules for both half and full marathons at different target times, chapters on dealing with injuries, etc. It’s written by Paul Van Den Bosch, particularly famous in Belgium because of his work with Sven Nys, probably the number one cyclocross athlete in the world. Again, I own the Dutch version, but the English version is called “Marathon: From Beginner to Finisher”.
Might as well end with a bombshell. A book that kind of makes fun of the last two books. It’s an amazing book by Holland’s equally amazing ultrarunner Jan Knippenberg. Alas, only available in Dutch and not the most easy-reading book either. But it’s an eye opener and by far the most interesting book in this list although, if I dare add a small bit of criticism, I could have done with a bit more stories from his own life as a runner. Still, I loved this book from the cover until the very last page. Must read for every runner, it’ll put the “extreme runs” mentioned above in a whole new context.
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