If you want to become a better runner – read. You can read for inspiration, information, or just plain entertainment. The more that you read about running the more that running becomes a part of you. It makes you think more like a runner. Not everything you read has to be running specific. How many articles in Runners World are about nutrition, or weight loss? Running is part of overall physical conditioning. Your running will become better, if your total physical conditioning is better. The same goes for your mind.
Did you know that the first Olympic Women’s marathon was not held until 1984? Within my lifetime the longest sanctioned womens’ race was 800 meters. One woman, Kathrine Switzer is most responsible for the adoption of the women’s marathon into the Olympics. There is that iconic picture of the Boston race director Josh Stemple trying to shove her off the course. That was early in the race. She finished the race, in large part due to her acceptance and protection by the male runners that ran with her.
Her story certainly does not end there. She worked hard for years for the world to accept women’s distance running. She built herself int a champion marathoner. All the while working for acceptance of the sport. She formed alliances, even with Josh Stemple. I often use Kathrine as my business model. She stayed focused on her goal and would work with anyone who could help her. Switzer’s book –Marathon Woman is one of my favorites.
If I were to name a favorite running writer – it would be Amby Burfoot. His latest book First Ladies of Running is about women who ran and changed the way we think. His book The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life will always be one of my favorites. Amby has both analytical and philosophical sides. All sides of a runner matter. Amby gets that and teaches it.
For the humorous side of running read Yasso and Remy. Funny things happen along the way to finishing a marathon. Bart and Mark share them. They laugh at themselves and show us that it is cool to laugh at ourselves. Along that same line read John “the Penguin” Bingham. His Marathoning for Mortals is an entertaining training guide for us mortals.
Know the immotals. Start with Pheidippes. Move on to Zatopek, Bannister, Gibbs, Switzer, Ryun, Popejoy, Waitz, Joanie, Mary and Zola, Rodgers, Shorter, etc. If you don’t know these runners – google them. Inspiration can come from the legends. It can also come from us mere mortals. Learn what you can from both and as Amby wrote in my copy of The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life – “May all your miles be filled with meaning”.