Sunday, January 9, 2011

Great Triathlon Reads

By Pharmie

Maybe you’re looking for some tri-related reading to take along on your winter or spring vacation. Maybe you’ve recently signed up for your first triathlon and are looking for a place to start. Maybe you’re just looking for motivation to get you off the couch and back to training this month. I have mentioned before that when I signed up for my first triathlon, I didn’t know a soul who’d ever done one. To help me figure out what exactly I was supposed to be doing, I turned to my local Barnes and Noble and picked out a book that looked like it had what I’d need. I’m now heading into my 7th year of tri training and have amassed more triathlon-related books than I really care to admit. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites, a brief description of each, and who I think could benefit from reading them.

Triathlon Training, Michael Finch – This was my very first triathlon book. It is written for the super beginner, and that’s exactly why I recommend it for people brand new to the sport. The information it offers is valuable but basic. The training programs, which vary from sprint distance to iron distance, are canned ,week-by-week plans. Having the plans pre-made helps take some of the overwhelming factor out of being new to the sport. Steve and I have used the programs offered in this book for his student tri club.

The Triathlete’s Training Bible, Joe Friel – This book is often considered a “must have” in every triathlete’s library. It covers all topics in much more detail than Triathlon Training. It’s nearly twice as long and doesn’t have the same pictures and illustrations. I honestly think it would have been too much for me when I started, but once I’d been in the sport a year or two, I found it really helpful. Joe Friel flushes out the concepts behind periodization and shows you how to build your own training program depending on the time you have and the races you are training for.

Triathlon Swimming: Made Easy, Terry Laughlin – I read this book while reteaching myself how to swim through the Total Immersion program. Although the book does go through the 13 steps of Total Immersion, I think many tri swimmers could benefit from reading it. It discusses efficiency in the water, gives some exercises to help you become more efficient, and offers valuable visualization techniques and tips for “feeling” the water to slip through it more easily.

Trizophrenia, Jef Mallett – Although this book won’t do much to advance your fitness, it’s a great book that reminds us why we love the sport. The stories and anecdotes will resonate with beginners to seasoned triathletes. It may also be an insightful read for those who love us but don’t necessarily train with us. The illustrations (Mallett is the creator of the comic Frazz) are an added bonus to the lighthearted book.

17 Hours to Glory, Mathias Müeller with Timothy Carlson – I have been doing this sport for a while and knew some of the big names but didn’t necessarily know their stories. I had seen the images of the woman crawling across the finish line at Kona all those years ago but didn’t know her name. I knew the names Mark Allen and Dave Scott but admittedly couldn’t tell you which was which. This book offers a valuable history lesson on some of the biggest pro names in the sport while intermixing stories of inspirational age groupers like Team Hoyt and Sarah Reinertsen. The 17 chapters, which each focus on one athlete, make for a moving read whether you’re Kona bound or new to the sport.

Training and Racing with a Power Meter (2nd Edition), Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan, PhD – When I first got my Cycelops Power Tap and Joule, I was SUPER excited but also felt a little lost. I wanted to be able to get the most out of this tool in my training and racing. When I asked my coach for resources, he referred me to this book.

The Time-Crunched Triathlete, Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg – This is the newest addition to our triathlon library, and although I haven’t gotten to read it yet (Steve’s been hogging it), I am really interested in some of its theories. I have definitely had seasons where training took a back seat to the rest of my life. It offers sprint and oly plans to keep you competitive and a 70.3 program that promises to get you to the finish line (but not necessarily with a PR).

Happy Reading, Everybody!