Freaks. In the best possible way.

the sports gene

What’s it about?
Just so you’re aware, elite athletes are freaks. They have genes that not very many people have that allow them to do things not very many people can do. And then they have to have the heart and determination to work as hard as they can on the thing they do (e.g. run, jump, swim) so they can do it even better than the other freaks like them. This book is about the genetics of all of those things.

Why should you read it?
The Sports Gene is quite a good overview of the science – well, not being a sports nerd or the right kind of science nerd, it seems like a good over view of the science. And it is very readable. Comprehensible without ever making me feel dumb. I’m sure I could have felt dumb.

I’m never going to be better than a decent runner: my hips are too wide, I’m too middle aged (read: too much weight), I didn’t grow up at 6000-9000 ft above sea level, and I just don’t care enough. (And, I’ve recently discovered, I have a vitamin D deficiency – I have rickets! [not really, but I have started on vitamin D pills.]) But now I understand so much better why I’m never going to be a good runner. I could be, if I cared more. But there are too many books to read in the world. I care more about that. I run to stay in shape; I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t read.

Outrunning the Blerch

The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances


What’s it about?
If you read The Oatmeal, you know that he is funny and likes to explain things. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances is an expansion on his strip of the same name. It’s about how out of shape he used to be, stories about particular runs he’s taken, and, of course, the Blerch. The Blerch is the embodiment of the little voice inside you that tells you to be lazy. To not try. To not go for that run because that would be hard and wouldn’t you rather sit on the couch? His goal is to outrun the Blerch.

Why should you read it?
Well, because it’s funny. Because you enjoy running. Because the Blerch is a great embodiment of all the times the voice in your head has said “why not watch one more television show?” or “why not put off cleaning your house?” It applies to everything, not just running. It’s just that with running, you can actually, physically, try to get away from it. It is either a motivating book, or just a funny one. Either way, you get to decide.

It’s not about the running

What I Talk about When I Talk About Running

What’s it about?
Haruki Murakami is a novelist who also runs marathons. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running are his thoughts about amateur long-distance running as they relate to fitness, writing, and life. His prose is careful and elegant and is a delight to read.

Why should you read it?
You should read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running because of its elegance. I would be a runner if my left foot would just heal from plantar fasciitis already; his thoughts about getting older and continuing to run are inspiring. He writes a lot about focus and acceptance that you don’t have the energy that you used to – there’s a whole meditation about talent vs focus and concentration. It applies to more than just running. That said, I think you’ll like the book more if you’re also a runner. It’s definitely worth your time.