SEVEN FITNESS BOOKS TO INSPIRE YOU

If last month’s Hackney Half fired up your running dreams, get yourself a copy of Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn.

The English writer takes his young family off to live in Iten in western Kenya to discover why it turns our world class runner after world class runner. It is a sober explanation about how to run, as well as fascinating insight to the multi-layered Kenyan phenomenon, a charming travelogue, and an insight to one man’s personal running ambitions. Finn’s latest book, The Rise of the Ultra Runners, was released in May.

If you prefer your writing more gonzo, then Christopher McDougall Born to Run – which started the barefoot running debate as he hunts down a lost tribe of super-runners – is the book for you. McDougall’s follow up, Natural Born Heroes, is equally roaming in its brief. It wraps the story of daring-do resistance to Nazi occupation of Crete up with an examination of the ancient arts of endurance, strength and nutrition. It brushes up your history as well as your fitness.

101 Youth Fitness Drills, by John Shepherd and Mike Antoniades, is part of a series written for sports-specific training, including netball, football and hockey. The Youth Fitness version – there are age 7-11 and 12-16 editions – is full of activities for improving agility, jumping, throwing and running. It has a super introduction that explains the best ages for working on particular aspects of fitness, from the ‘skill hungry’ years to best time to work on strength.

The best trainer you may have never heard of is Al Kavadlo, a New Yorker who via his blog, workshops, app and books has been spreading the gospel of bodyweight exercise to make you big and strong. Get Strong, written with his brother Danny, is a programme for beginners upwards, built around push-ups, pull-ups, squats and bridges. With clearly explained exercises and longer essays on food and squats, it’s ideal to get you started in the park this summer.

High Intensity Interval Training for Women by Sean Bartram – another great down-to-earth American trainer – is a clearly-illustrated treasure trove of routines using HIIT, a great method improving cardio fitness and getting trim. There something to suit every skill level and is great for those who want something short, sharp and effective.

Joe De Sena – the man who started The Spartan Race obstacle events – is inspirational against the odds. His personal development books start of with you thinking “This is too American!’ but his integrity and enthusiasm soon sucks you in despite your English reserve. His latest book – The Spartan Way – mixes inspirational address with practical exercise to change your mindset to get you off the couch or go further and faster than you expected. You will be a better person by the end of it.

Roger Love