Tuesday 2 February 2016

Three books...

Over 30 years of running and racing I've amassed a great many books on the subject, more than fifty, most of which I'd periodically dip into in a constant search for more speed, more endurance, more ways to outfox the opposition, strategies to ensure a place on the podium. Never content to just run, or race, my brain was always programmed to win. If there were doubts, due to recent illness or injury, I wouldn't run if I couldn;t give my best.

While racing seriously 'Daniels' Running Formula' was the book that most influenced me to train mainly injury-free, to run sub 3 hour marathons in my 60's, regularly top the British Rankings in various age categories and set the odd course record. Some of those records have stood the test of time and remain intact, notably the 1996 M60 Coniston 14 miles (87.42), 1996 M60 Mallerstang Yomp 23 miles (3hrs 42mins) and Northern Veteran's M65 10,000 track record (39.31). I rate Jack Daniels the most athlete friendly coach of all time. But I don't train any more, so have no need of all that technical data.The days of VDOT's and scientific training are long gone.
My redundant library   (Click to emlarge)
Now, well into my 80's, the urge to outrun contemporaries is no longer there. I'd rather run leisurely with them than battle against them. All I want now is to stay fit enough to enjoy running until the day I can no longer put one foot in front of the other, to embrace the great outdoors, flowers and birdsong, magical sunrises and sunsets, and that exhilerating feeling of exposing limbs and torso to wind and sun by sea breeze shorelines, rocky trails, riverside paths, grouse haunted moors and chattering mountain streams. Not much to ask in my dotage, is it?

Most of my running library has become redundant. Preference now is for biographical books written mainly by runners who share my passion for the great outdoors. Lizzie Hawker, author of the book 'Runner', has a natural affinity with mountains that lured her to run the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc race in 2005 with little or no experience of such things but merely as 'a last bit of fun' to conclude a two week climbing holiday in the Alps. With none of the usual technical clothing or equipment, she borrowed a wee rucksack from a friend, stuck a couple of bottles of juice in it and set off to run the 158km with its 8,600m of ascent - scared witless. She finished 1st lady - and subsequently won it a further four times. Read her book and be totally gobsmacked, particularly by her 320km run from Everest base camp to Katmandu with 10,000m ascent and 14,000m descent.
Books past and present
Kilian Jornet seems more at home in mountains than most of the animals that live there, and could probably outrun them. He too is a three time winner of the prestigious UTMB, the first time in 2008 at the tender age of 20 years, and has since set himself a quest of setting records over the highest peaks of every continent. Presumably that includes Everest. His book 'Run or Die' reveals much of his Catalan character, his deep love of nature, his appreciation of all things beautiful, his affinity with the mountain environment that enables him to run tirelessly and fearlessly over frozen snow or knife-edge ridges whose exposure would frighten the life out of most mortals. His Matterhorn run from the Italian village of Cervinia to the summit and back in 2 hours 52 minutes, is truly mind-blowing.

Prior to her visiting the UK in 2011, to take part in a 24 hour Commonwealth Championship road race (in which she set a new women's world record of 247.07 kms), a message from Lizzie Hawker said it would be nice to meet up for a chat. I let that opportunity pass, frightened I'd be way out of my depth in the presence of such a high profilke athlete and possibly scared more witless than she was on the start line of her first UTMB! 
 I know when I'm beat!


  1. Books are great to have aren't they... and there are always plenty to choose from.

    What I tend to do now, is pass a few on to a Charity shop ...trouble is I always end up buying a few more too! Oh well, that can't be bad!

    Wishing you well for tomorrow

    All the best Jan

  2. Hope the operation went as planned and that you will be running again soon after.

  3. Wow! That's a serious running library. I have maybe ten running books and I thought that was a lot:)
    Hoping your eye operation went well!