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  • Anna B. Shannahan, MD

3 Books to Run To

The quarantine closing gyms & the increasingly nicer weather has renewed my desire to run and walk outside, & I know I’m not the only one! (A good balance for my increased quarantine interest in baking breads & desserts…yummm)!

I’ve also been reading more running-related books & wanted to share 3 of my favorites that never fail to keep me motivated, including on those days when it feels temptingly easy to spend any free time watching Netflix.

If you’re not a runner, these will make you want to try it out! (No ratings as I’d give each of these books 5 stars!)

1) For:

  • Those who think it’s too late to start running

  • Those who want to do a lifestyle 180

“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami

The author’s name may sound familiar as he’s a famous writer, but did you know he’s also an avid endurance athlete?! And before he was a runner, he owned a jazz bar & smoked cigarettes like a chimney. Murakami describes how he did not start running till he turned 33, & ended up successfully changing his entire lifestyle, eventually running his 1st ultramarathon at 47. This book feels like a conversation with an old running buddy, as it’s a collection of thoughts & memories about what made him start running, his experience running his first marathon, & more.

Some favorite quotes:

“I’m not going to lay off or quit because I’m busy. If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again.”

“To deal with something unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto.”

2) For:

  • Those who love food (especially plant-based)

  • Those wondering how best to fuel their workouts

“Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek

Whenever Scott Jurek is in the same town as me for a running talk or a book signing I try to catch him because he always has

so much wisdom to share! In this book Scott vulnerably shares his personal life (spoiler: his childhood was rough & not plant-based) & how it led him to being a vegan ultramarathoner. One of the aspects I find most interesting is his sharing his vegan lifestyle. This book includes some amazing recipes, including for lentil burgers, vegan “cheese” spread & a green power pre-workout drink (made from real ingredients & not sold as a powdered shake!) It made me rethink my whole approach to how I fuel my runs & workouts (maybe that’ll be another blog post!).

Some favorite quotes:

Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn't sure he can accomplish. It can be running a mile, or a 10K race, or 100 miles. It can be changing a career, losing 5 pounds, or telling someone you love her (or him).”

““We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.”

3) For:

  • Lovers of travel

  • Lovers of science

  • Those who’ve always been curious about barefoot running:

“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall

Reading this book always transports me to the wild Copper Canyon of Mexico & makes me feel like I’m learning secrets of the Tarahumara Indians native to the area. This book covers everything from the evolution and biomechanics of running to following a fascinating group of people racing the Tarahamura. It truly takes you back not only scientifically but also emotionally (I cry every time!) to how and why we run. If you’re feeling the cabin fever because of quarantine, this will make you feel like you’re going on an adventure! & then it will make you want to try running barefoot!

Some favorite quotes:

“Running should be free, man.”

You don't stop running because you get old; you get old because you stop running.”

“The Hopis consider running a form of prayer; they offer every step as a sacrifice to a loved one, and in return ask the Great Spirit to match their strength with some of his own.”

That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation.”

Running books next up on my To Read list:

  • Cross Country – Rickey Gates

  • Running with Sherman - Christopher McDougall

Anyone else share these favorites? What else should I add to my To Read list?

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