Core exercises are your daily bread and butter and the indoor life is starting to mould you into the biggest baddest dryland king/queen ever. So, what’s next? Maybe it’s time to learn the yogic headstand or do the Ironman distance at home like Jan Frodeno did a couple of weeks ago? Boring! Why not settle in with a good book? It inspires and stimulates and if you don’t know where to begin, we have a couple of great suggestions coming your way in this blog.
A Life Without Limits
By Chrissie Wellington
The mercurial Chrissie Wellington gives us insight into her remarkable life up until and including her career as a triathlete. Her book takes us on a journey through more than just her triathlon career, but her life approach and experiences that transformed her into the best triathlete of her generation. She retired in 2011 after only five years in the sport.
Chrissie won every long-distance triathlon she started, 13 out of 13. She is the only triathlete, male or female, to have won Kona less than a year after turning professional. She recounts how she borrowed a bike for her first Kona and was really out of her depth, wearing some old gear.
Her mental toughness is legendary. One example is her win in 2011 at the World Championships, where she started with injuries so severe that her former coach Brett Sutton said she, “should not even be on the starting line.”
These stories and many others, like the time she biked across the Himalayas with some friends for fun or her time under controversial coach Brett Sutton make for interesting reading. But it’s also highlighted how incredibly hard she was on herself and the dark side of pushing to the edge of her limits. The book should have rather been called, “Not Good enough!”. But a kind, like her, we may never see again in the land of triathlon.
Peak Performance - Elevate your Game, avoid burnout, and thrive with the new science of success
By Brad Stulburg and Steve Magness
Where most books of this kind beat you over the head with what you should be doing and making you feel guilty about it, the authors Brad Stulburg and Steve Magness have other ideas. They identified the purpose of Peak Performance as being to, “help people discover how they can get the most out of themselves in a healthy and sustainable way, and prevent the next case of burnout, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.”
This book is disarmingly balanced and easy to read. It is a page turner, not dry and academic as the title may suggest. It shares anecdotes from, not only the author’s lives, but also from other peak performers they interview. The book draws on a wide variety of fields and disciplines and so makes the information relevant and interesting to a broader audience. They explore what peak performers can learn from each other, so for instance what an athlete can learn from an artist, an artist from and academic etc.
Ultimately it is our own responsibility to take what we learn and put it into practice, but here is a book that shows you how in a gripping and compelling way that can lead to sustainable success.
Leap In - A woman, some waves and the will to swim
By Alexandra Heminsley
This book tells the delightful story of going from being scared of the open water to swimming between Greek Islands. In the quirky way of the British and with their sense of humour, the author takes us on a journey of a beginner swimmer, warts and all. She details the trials and tribulations of learning to swim in open water. She documents some basic and key open water skills, like how to breathe – or better said – remembering to breathe out. Her hilarious account of getting into a wetsuit for the first time or her first long swim are real page turners. As she gets more experienced, she finds a real pleasure and enjoyment in swimming. This is an open account of what it is like to learn how to swim as an adult, and with it, self-discovery. She finds that swimming is more than just a physical pursuit, but a mental one too.
Learning to swim, and in open water mind you, are no mean feat. Its takes perseverance and dedication. This book will delight seasoned swimmers remembering their first time in open water and inspire those not yet swimming but who have it on their bucket list. With triathlon and open water swimming becoming ever more popular, this is a shot in the lay-man’s arm for open water swimming. On a philosophical note, the author reminds us that, “To discover a new skill as an adult is like noticing a door, deciding to open it and finding an entire room in your own home that you never knew you had.” Just for that the book is invaluable.
Find a Way
By Diana Nyad
We profiled Diana in our blog Age is just a number here. Her book chronicles her amazing journey to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage. There were many obstacles: age, money, logistics, sharks, jelly fish and failure. Nyad attempted the swim in 1978 but had to give up after being swept off course by the strong current. She didn’t swim another stroke for three decades after that. What made her decide to try again at age 60? The death of her mother. Nyad realized that there was only a finite amount of days left in her life and that now was the time if she ever wanted to achieve her lifetime goal.
Equipped with an iron will and 85 songs on her “playlist” in her head she was determined, after three more failed attempts, to conquer the ocean and make history. Her mantra? “Find a way.” And in the end, she did. The lasting impression from this book, is not the incredible discipline and athletic achievement needed to do this, but rather that life throws obstacles at all of us. For none of us it’s plain sailing in this life, but if you believe in your dream and never, ever, give up, you can prevail. As Nyad herself said, “Not one of us gets through this life without heartache, without turmoil…. And if you believe in perseverance as a great human quality you will find your way.” And for this common bond in humanity the book alone serves its purpose to inspire us and to persevere.
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” A quote by Mark Twain. We wish you all of these things. Happy reading!