Recommendations and Resources
After running and cycling for pleasure, and competitively over a range of distances for many years, I’ve tested out huge numbers of kit, nutrition, books and other resources. Here are my recommendations of some I think are the best or most interesting. Just click on the images to see them on Amazon.
Starting with training plans and books. More books, plus nutrition and kit to follow.
Do let me know if you have any gems you would add to the list.
Runners World has a fantastic index of Marathon Training Plans, and lots of articles full of related advice. I like how you can find a plan based either on goal time, or based on the amount of time you have to train, whichever is the most important to you.
I’ve used the marathon training plans in the book The Competitive Runner’s Handbook. ‘Coach Bob’ has written the plans for the New York Marathon and includes plenty of training plans ranging from beginner to advanced. You may notice it’s a pretty big book and covers all distances from 5k to marathons, with loads of tips and advice.
After I’d run several marathons and wanted to squeeze out my maximum potential, I moved on to Advanced Marathoning. Written by 2 elite marathoners, it explains all the elements of a training plan, before setting out marathon training schedules. These start at 55 miles (88 km) up to over 85 miles (137 km) per week. I’ve heard lots of great success stories from runners aiming for fast times. Personally I take some of the elements from the plan, but reduce the number of sessions and overall mileage.
Books about running
This book helped convince me that natural talent is overrated, and you can achieve anything with effective hard work. I find this very motivating for training.
Born to run:by Christopher McDougall
Travel, culture, barefoot running, but also importantly, the value of running relaxed, happy yet focused. (Also handy reading if you want to have a conversation with any runner you meet as most have read this.)
Eat and Run by Scott Jurek: Didn’t turn me vegan, but loved hearing about his progress to serial ultra champion.
Feet in the clouds: by Richard Askwith. Its subititle is “a tale of fell running and obsession” which puts it pretty well – real life stories that will make you want to leave your desk and get running in the inspiring British landscape. Although it’s built around the author’s quest to run the ‘Bob Graham Round’ in the UK, it has much wider lessons and motivations for running in general. One of those books that I’ve reread many times.
Paula – My story so far: by Paula Radcliffe.
Good reminder of that you have to go through some lows to achieve the highs, but it will be worth it.
Fantastic book on the all-important mental side of training and racing. Matt takes real examples to illustrate different aspects of mental improvement, like triumphing despite being weaker / older / less experienced than others. He writes brilliantly, I found it inspiring, hard to put down and immediately wanted to reread it.
50 in 50: by Dean Karnazes.
Not as good as his first book, but some good stories and running and recovery tips from Dean as he runs 50 marathons in a row.
Black White Gold: by Kelly Holmes.
How Kelly planned her route to golds and overcame lots of injuries on the way. Very motivating if you’ve ever been injured!
Running with the Kenyans: by Adharanand Finn.
An easy interesting read although no magic secrets revealed to copy! I did enjoy the insight into the life and training in the ‘home of running’ in Iten, Kenya.
Books about cycling
Racing through the dark: by David Millar.
Now clean and a strong anti-doping advocate, I found this a fascinating story of David Millar’s slide into doping as a professional cyclist. He made me see how there’s a lot more grey than pure black and white to the issue of drugs in cycling. So a good read if you’ve ever wondered more about the hows and whys of doping in elite level sport.