Running out of Books about Running

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I’ve been an on-off runner for nearly two decades, but even though I know it improves the quality of my life in so many ways, I find it hard to keep motivated when I go it alone. It’s good for my mood – depression is a thing of the past when I regularly get out in the fresh air of the great outdoors, whether I’m catching some rays under blue skies, splashing about in the mud, or battling against wind and lashing rain. I never regret going for a run once I’m out there – it’s utterly exhilarating! I feel fitter, more energetic and calmer, and running helps me shed unwanted pounds and counters all the sitting that reading and writing requires.

The problem is, even though I love running, I always end up stopping. One missed run quickly multiplies and before I know it I’ve lost ground and dejection has set in. Even though I’ve trained for and run two marathons, there have been periods in between and since when I’ve stopped running and I always, ALWAYS, have to start right from the very beginning, and that can be soul-destroying. I know from my experience of running with friends when I lived in Brighton, that having a crew really helps to keep you motivated. It’s one thing to skip a run on your own, but letting someone else down makes you think twice about it. Since moving to Wales, I’ve not stopped trying to rally friends and people who live locally to get a beginners’ running group going, but to no avail, and when I tried to join an established group, they were at such an advanced level to me that it was a lost cause unless I had roller-skates!

However, help could be at hand. After watching the Great North Run a few weeks ago, I decided to start run/walking again, and I’m now on week four of my go-to ten week 0-30 minutes running program.


I’ve also been following the fate of the novice runners coached by Gareth ‘Alfie’ Thomas for the Cardiff Half Marathon, on the BBC Wales programme Run For Your Life. (You can see a hilarious clip of it here: ) The race was on Sunday, and while I was watching the tv coverage, my husband launched into one of his usual rants – what’s the point of racing when you can just run where you live?… I pointed out that we could, and that we probably should, but the fact is, we don’t. I’m not a fan of races but it’s far easier to train regularly if you have a set goal to work towards. So, inspired by the tv coverage and the power of my own argument, I decided to enter the Cardiff Half Marathon next year.

Imagine my surprise when a few minutes later, my husband – he who will not be told – said he’d enter it too! Well, I never saw that coming. We probably won’t go running together much as he’s much faster than I am, and I prefer to get my runs done early while he’s an evening runner, but importantly, we’ll be able to motivate each other, and keep each other on track. Also, I’ll make sure we fit in a couple of yoga DVD sessions each week too, to keep injury at bay. I’m so excited!


Over the years I’ve built up quite a  library of running books to keep me informed and inspired, but The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik is the book I always return to. I’ve used the beginners’ schedule many times to return to running, and also used the marathon training programs both times I needed to train up to 26.2 miles. I do have a stack of books already, but there’s nothing like a few new volumes of inspiring stories to put a spring in your step and some fire in your belly. I’ve picked up a couple of new running books recently – the Alexandra Heminsley and the Richard Asqwith, to add to the pile of regular re-reads.


I’ve also just ordered Women Who Run by Shanti Sosienski, and have added a few titles to my wish list for when I need an extra bit of pep in my step – Kathrine Switzer’s Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports and Lisa Jackson’s Your Pace or Mine?: What Running Taught me about Life, Laughter and Coming Last, a recommendation from Liz’s blog Adventures in reading, writing and working from home   (her recent marathon experience in Reykjavik is well worth a read – you can find that here). So, I’ve got a year to take me from couch potato to gazelle. It’ll take a lot of hard work and grim determination, so I think that warrants a few new books, don’t you?