5 Sports Books for Endurance Athletes

Photo by Jeff Sparling

Looking for a good book to get you through the winter? Here are five great reads to help you plan for next year and do a bit of mental cross-training in the offseason.

#1) The Time-Crunched Triathlete: Race-Winning Fitness in 8 Hours a Week, by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg

Have you started planning your races for next year? How would you like to excel at work and family and still PR at your big sprint or Olympic-distance triathlon? Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg offer a training program that will help you do just that. Two key beliefs underlie that promise: 1) we age-groupers are not necessarily well-served by following the same moderate-intensity and long duration programs like those of the pros; and 2) with less time to train, we can sustain shorter, high-intensity workouts and actually use time away from training as key recovery periods. Most of the program workouts are bricks that maximize training time as well as prepare you for the specific requirements of your events next summer. You will want to plan your 2011 schedule with this book at your side.

#2) Your Best Triathlon: Advanced Training for Serious Athletes, by Joe Friel

If you plan to complete an Ironman or a series of half triathlons, and truly want to see just how good you can be in 2011, get a copy of Friel's latest training manual. Friel is exceptionally clear about the sacrifices required to set lofty goals. For those willing to make the commitment, Friel lays out a solid game plan to help you reach your goal. This is a sequel to his ubiquitous The Triathlete's Training Bible that has sold over 300,000 copies. Based on questions and feedback, Friel presents many of his same concepts in different ways, that he believes will make the material more accessible for athletes aspiring to reach new levels of performance.

#3) Training and Racing with a Power Meter, by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD

You invested in the triathlon bike. You bought the aero wheels. You have an aero helmet. Your next purchase should be a power meter; and by the time you read this book, you will realize it should have been the first item on the shopping list. The authors have created the most logically structured and comprehensive manual in print on how a rider can get maximum performance improvement from this device. As in the first edition, Allen and Coggan begin by helping the reader select the equipment and software to purchase. Along the way, they explain how to interpret the data and determine your strengths and weaknesses. They lay out how to build a training plan that addresses your individual weaknesses as you build toward events during the year. In this edition, they have added an entire chapter specifically on triathlon and the opportunity to use the tool to optimally pace your long race as you never have before.

#4) The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey.

You'll be tempted to put your wetsuit on when you curl up in bed to read this book this winter. The best way to describe it is Born to Run meets the surf. Susan Casey takes the reader around the world on a journey to learn about the sheer power of the ocean and the wild waves it can unleash. We meet  oceanographers and scientists that are pushing the envelope of science and technology to better predict storms that routinely swallow cargo ships around the globe. At the same time, you'll get to know some of the best surfers in the world, including Laird Hamilton, who use the same knowledge to chase and ride big waves that strike fear into others. The Wave is guaranteed to bring back the same fear and excitement you feel at the mass swim start of an Ironman.

#5) Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand

Put on your cleats and run sprints with Louis Zamperini as he sets both the high school and collegiate record for the mile in the 1930s. Along the way, witness the redemptive power of running as Zamperini transforms himself from a troubled youth in Torrance, California to a standout member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the famous 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The character, courage, and resiliency that running drew out of Zamperini turned him into a national hero. This book retells how he survived a WWII bomber crash in the Pacific Ocean, lasted 47 days at sea in a small raft, and endured two years in cruel captivity as a POW. This is a fast-paced tale of hope, trial, endurance, and ultimately, forgiveness.

Paul Tyler is founder of Triessential.com. Triessential offers an iPhone application with a different daily reason to train for the entire year.

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