On this page you will find an ever increasing list of books and publications on what I have found to be a great places to further educate yourself when it comes to becoming a better person and consequently a substantially changed in a positive way (endurance) athlete. I am repeating myself, however, taking charge of your training and your body is one of the first and fundamentally important steps towards a lifetime journey of self advancement and development. Since education even for myself is an ongoing process, keep returning to the list for new additions. I have tried to split the books in general categories, though don’t put any restrictions on yourself, everything is interrelated, be it physiology, motivation, etc., it really is. Any book you pick is a good place to start. In a lot of cases, the writings are the culmination of many years and even decades of the author’s experience/research therefore understanding it all from the first read sometimes might be a big task; it’s a continuous process and I myself constantly come back and reread books to find new concepts and ideas, that my mind was simply not yet ready to fully grasp the first time I read the books. As a final tip, this is NOT school and there are no deadlines or exams, so I suggest that you read for fun and as long as you come with a new idea, yes even one or two from any of the books here, you will be taking a a step in the right direction and you can always come back or read in parts. Enjoy.=) A more visual Bookshelf is available here.
Notable and Recent
Some of the most notable works as well as my recent inspirational finds that had equally impressed me, reside in this section. As good place to start as any.
The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing – Dr. Philip Maffetone
extremely positive experiences can be found under the Me and MAF tagged articles.
Born to Run – Christopher McDougall
The Consuming Instinct – Gad Saad
Marketing, religion, literature and pretty much everything else is an extension of our consuming instinct. Why is that important and why should you be concerned? Everything we do is governed by mechanisms evolved, long before modern civilisation. While, some differences exist among cultures, fundamentally we all follow the same patterns of consuming goods and services, relationships, etc. As something so fundamental as literally every act or decision we make, it is essential to be consciously aware of why things are happening and that includes avoid, being be duped by quackery and advertising.
Natural Born Heroes – Christopher McDougall
Even given the above facts we, the human race have survived and almost without a doubt came up as top species, because in our bodies we possess unique abilities. Though it takes more than just that to make a hero. A fascinating narrative exploring the amazing abilities laying dormant into each of us, intertwined with the story of the motley bunch who during World War II, managed to kidnap a German general under the noses of highly trained elite troops and most importantly they were the ragged group of people that lived to tell the story.
The Kettlebell – Simple and Sinister and Power to the People – Pavel Tsatsouline
Surely You’re Joking Mr.Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character – Richard P. Feynman
A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future – Daniel H. Pink
You Must Relax – Edmund Jacobson
“An attempt to relax is a failure to relax.”
At this day and age we know the price of everything, yet we are compeltely unaware of the vast WASTING of the most valuable resource available to us – our own energy. We run to meet deadlines and live on edge and tension has become a normal occurence. From every corner we are advised to relax, yet nobody know what it means and most, if not all sources ignore the fact than an effort to relax is a failure to relax. This is among the main reasons why you (and largely myself before reading this book) have trouble falling asleep and toss and turn in bed. While the answer is simple – relaxation is the absolute absence of tension. A very easily read and understood medical/physiological background as well as a set of exercises aimed at progressive relaxation – learning to recognize tension and how to release it. I do have to say that Dr. Jacobson advises daily practice which might be unfeasible for a good number of us, though gaining awareness of tension and starting with the initial simple exercises had amazing effect on me.
Training and Racing
As the name suggests in this category you will find books concerning training and racing (for endurance sports). Although some might not be cycling specific, bicycle riding/racing is still and endurance sport and therefore has a good amount of overlap with other disciplines such as running, triathlon etc.
Advances in Functional Training – Michael Boyle
Athletic Body in Balance- Gray Cook
Periodization Training for Sports – Tudor Bompa
The Human Body
Understanding the workings of the human body are essential for becoming more functional in your daily activities and minimising the chance of injuries. Just like you maintain you car, bike, house, etc. you should be doing the same with your body to make sure it is ready to function at its best. When it comes to cycling, the bicycle is a symmetrical device and we are notoriously asymmetric, therefore, in the works of Steve Hogg: it creates a very unique challenges to our functionality.
Becoming a Supple Leopard – Dr. Kelly Starrett
Stability, Sport and Performance Movement – Joanne Elphinston
Health and Nutrition
The food we eat is an integral and pivotal part of being healthy and in tune with our bodies which in turn is the key to high performance. At the same time, the wide reaching concept of nutrition has been the most controversial aspect of human life and has given rise to many quacks and witch doctors. While this section has the highest risk to become a bland ‘cookbook’ of what to eat, rather than why, my goal is to direct you to some of the cardinal work that shows how to distinguish the good and the bad information that is constantly raining from advertising and even from the health authorities.
Big Fat Lies – David Gillespie
Good Calories, Bad Calories – Gary Taubes
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living – Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek.
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.
Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease – Dr. Robert Lustig
If we let things go the same way by the year 2030 more than half of the world population would be either obese and/or ridden with metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension and many more. Healthcare systems would be broke and you are led to believe it is all YOUR fault. A child endocrinlogist Dr. Robert Lustig sees first hand all the effects that John Yudkin (see above) warned us decades ago. The book tells a captivating story that has it all – politics, intrigue, lies, murder as he guides us why is sugar is making the world fat and sick and what you can do about it to change it.
Wheat Belly – Dr. William Davis
This is NOT ‘yet another “gluten free” book.’ A great eye opener on how ‘our daily bread’ is wrecking havoc to our bodies day in and day out.
Sometimes the explanation for a long contemplated problem or a source of inspiration can be found in the most peculiar of places. In this section you will find books that gave me a fresh perspective, a wow moment, a good laugh and some serious food for thought.
Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks – Ben Goldacre
Fiction and Non-fiction
Fiction and literature can certainly serve as a pleasant distraction and a great way to enrich your culture and stimulate your brain. However, you should always keep an eye out and being able to distinguish fact from fiction, because if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes widely accepted, with cycling particularly being filled with a lot such claims.
Pro Cycling on $10 a Day – Phil Gaimon
Myths and Legends
One thing you have noticed that while this is a predominantly cycling oriented site, I am very not geneorus when it comes to cycling books. Not from a lack of interest or perusal on my part, If you pick any of my recommendations from each sections you will see why. Unfortunately most of the books available at the time of this post miss the mark quite a bit and hence I can only qualify them as myths and legends. That being said they are not entirely without value so here are some of the more popular cycling literature out there.
The Cyclist’s Training Bible – Joe Friel
Periodization Training for Sports I recommended in the sections above. As I mentioned, be extremely cautious when you try to make parallels between sprint/power/explosive type of sports (ie basketball, javelin throwing, shotput, weight lifting) and endurance ones (ie cycling). This is the most common problem since a lot of trainers have little idea on the needs of endurance athletes and just try to bang a square peg into the round holes they know. Joe Friel’s book is basically Bompa’s book modified for cycling and that is evident by looking at the reference list and dedication (by Tudor Bompa himself). Same periodisation methods, etc. In addition the book leans towards that you are a cyclist first and human second so it only skims functional and body balance aspects. In addition it promotes the high carbohydrate diet as the preferred nutrition. The book does emphasise the needs for recovery and paying attention to worrying signals from your body as well as improving your cycling weaknesses,however, there are much better sources about that (The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racingis one). If nothing else it does have a quite robust list of specific workouts. I am aware that Friel’s methods ‘have worked for a lot,’ however, when you are just getting into cycling pretty much anything within reason will work…for some time before plateau/injury/overtraining/give up the sport. My personal experience with his methods is not very positive, as much as I liked to think that riding myself into the ground with 3 hard sessions in the Build 2 phase, was cool, looking back it was most probably counter productive.
Training and Racing with a Powermeter – Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan
to go back to the basics. I still use my powermeter though much differently than it is popularly advertised. Bookmark this link and follow me on Facebook/Twitter to stay up to date on the latest updates. I welcome comments, however, before asking a questions please visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.