The Reading List.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.
I love to read, and I guess
I read a lot. For athletes reading is important as it
provides an important intellectual balance for our otherwise
physical existence. Also, reading is perhaps the most
readily available method of gaining knowledge, insight
and inspiration for the things you and I do. Especially
When I was a kid I spent
a lot of time reading. I read a book called "Annapurna"
by Maurice Herzog. It is the chronicle of the French
mountaineers who climbed the first 8000 meter peak in
history, thus paving the way for conquest of Everest,
K2 and other mountains as well as insight into the definitions
of adventure and human endurance.
The men in Herzog's "Annapurna"
were Gods to me, Limitless in endurance and courage.
As a boy at home in his basement with virtually no hope
of seeing the world they possessed unfathomable strength.
More than anything I wanted to be at least something
like them. "Annapurna" was one of the primary
motivating factors in my life. Still is.
With that in mind I'll give
you a reading list of books I hope you will enjoy. I
have read them all, most several times, and found them
very important directly and indirectly as a triathlete
and endurance athlete. I hope you do too.
"The Long Walk" By Slavomir Rawicz.
If you only pick up one book on this list, get this one. This
book is incredible. A story so vast, sweeping and unfathomable
I doubt you will be able to put it down. The suffering this
man endured eclipses almost any chronicle of human endurance
and suffering. Rawicz tells his incredible (true) tale with
a detached indifference that only makes the message more powerful.
It is the thesis of how important and precious freedom is and
to what lengths humankind will go in its pursuit. The book will
inspire you on those freezing cold days when you seem barren
of inspiration.Touching, terrifying and inspirational all in
one. Read this book. You won't regret it.
"The One That Got Away" By Chris Ryan.
You must read this book. Another true epic of human endurance.
Ryan is a member of an elite British Special Air Service reconnaissance
team in the Persian Gulf war. His five-man team is dropped behind
Iraqi lines to locate scud missiles. His team is discovered
by the Iraqis. Some are captured, some die, some disappear.
Ryan escapes. The story is even more incredible when you consider
it is nothing new. Special Operations Soldiers the world over
have endured what Ryan did and even worse, and many of them
are never at liberty (or survive) to tell their fantastic stories.
Read the book, think about Ryan's ordeal when you wake up at
5:30 a.m. and want to miss swim practice.
"Annapurna" By Maurice Herzog. As I
mentioned above, the epic that started modern popular adventure
writing. As a boy I pretended my friends Whitey and Bob were
the hapless compatriots of Herzog- Lachanal and Rebuffat, and
that I was Herzog himself. We explored the woods along the Rouge
River in Dearborn while I pretended they were the Malaysian
jungles. Not doubt this book has inspired thousands of adventurers
to leave what is safe and comfortable behind. His story is an
inspiration to all endurance athletes and adventurers.
"The Purple Runner" By Paul Christman.
It will be difficult for you to find this fiction book from
a little publisher and probably out of print. If you do find
it through Amazon.com or at a used bookstore you will be thankful.
The short little story is about a disfigured runner who trains
in seclusion to compete in the London Marathon. He is reclusive
because of his facial disfigurements (from burns) and devotes
himself entirely to an unbelievable training regimen. Following
his secluded training he has an amazing race in London and becomes
the first person to break 2:00:00 in the marathon. It is a feel
good story that reveals the "Purple Runner" in all
"Iron Will" by Mike Plant. Absolute
must read. The history of the Ironman Triathlon by the guy who
was there. Tells the inside story of the first Ironman and traces
the Big Three (Scott Tinley, Mark Allen and Dave Scott) through
their duels during the early to mid eighties. Also chronicles
the bizarre, behind the scenes business wrangling that went
on with athletes, sponsors, insurance and appearance fees. This
book gives our sport some sense of history and offers a written
record of the greatest triathlon on earth.
"Hope for the Flowers" By Trina Paulus.
If you are an endurance athlete you are either running to something
or running away from it. After teaching yourself how to suffer
and endure endless discomfort and difficulties this book will
give you a different perspective on achievement and goals. For
most people, the message will be lost or not even heard. For
the intelligent person with that rare gift of self-examination,
this child-like fable (that has nothing whatsoever to do with
endurance sports) will offer a priceless insight into why sometimes
the best thing to do is nothing at all, and why the most valuable
things are not things that can be found at a finish line but
the journey along the way and who we share it with. On the other
hand, if you're like a lot of endurance athletes, this will
be way over your head- so just skip it.
"It's not About the Bike" By Lance Armstrong.
Chances are you've already read it. If you haven't, what planet
are you from? The lesson is here is one worth learning over
and over: "Never, ever give up." You already know
the story, but some interesting inside details include how Oakley
sunglasses honored a commitment to Armstrong during his darkest
hours when his other sponsors abandon him. Not only an incredible
survival tale, but an interesting insight into the world of
high-stakes pro cycling.
-Anything by Reinhold Messner. (Doesn't matter
what). The grizzly super mountaineer and Italian retro-grouch
is a certifiable weirdo, but his self-serving ramblings make
for interesting inspiration from an athlete who has his principles
and lives them. Unless you are a climber it may be difficult
to understand the insane things Messner has accomplished. Years
before it was cool to climb Everest Messner had done it alone,
without oxygen. Part of his, errr, ahh, "eccentricity"
may be do in large part to his time spent above 8000 meters
(26,400 ft.) without oxygen. Then again, it may also be from
the hash bong hits he did with a vengeance while climbing in
central Asia. Either way the man writes some interesting stuff.