February 14, 2014 | Posted in:General

I have set out to provide an Ironman Triathlon Book Review and have found books that cover endurance, long distance type amazing athletes that I find of interest and I hope will be helpful and motivating. I will continue to grow this list and if anyone has an recommendations let me know.

Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story

The name Brownlee is now the most recognisable in the world of triathlon and the two brothers have probably had the greatest impact in bringing the sport of triathlon to the masses in this country. This detailed account of the two Olympian brothers is related from the perspectives of the two brothers, Alistair and Jonathan (Jonny) themselves and is an honest and remarkable story of their drive for success, describing their development from schoolboys to standing on the Olympic podium.
Both brothers are very humble on their fantastic achievements in the world of Triathlon telling many stories of their adventures as kids. The book is well written and easy to read. It is not intended as a biography of the brothers, more a story telling the reader how these two brothers came to the pinnacle of their chosen sport in the first instance. It relates their attitudes – to each other, to other sportsmen and to their training (which they clearly enjoy).

A triathlon to most seems like an exercise in torture. To complete, in Alistair and Jonny’s case, a 1500 metre swim, a 40 km. bike ride and a 10 km. run, at the highest level is epic. Swimming and running in competition as early as 9 with cycling vast distances a hobby, their competitive instincts and sibling rivalry were established. Their competitiveness with each other is clearly part of what motivates them to progress, but in a positive way. They inevitably raced as a team versus the rest.

Encouraged by their parents (both doctors with ‘sporting genes’) to try everything, the brothers soon realised they had a talent for being capable of ‘far more than we thought’. The book takes the reader through each of their stages of childhood development in each of the three disciplines and then onto how they attained success, initially at a local level, then nationally and finally internationally.
They managed their sport with academic pursuits. Alistair balanced his physics A-level notes on his handle bars whilst cycling, later to be accepted at Cambridge University. The sacrifices, hard work, intrusions on personal life are all here. Jonny writes the advantages of training with the world champion, Alistair, and that living with him takes it to a new level. Jonny is organised and obsessive with a flair for other sports, Alistair laid back and annoyingly, to Jonny, relaxed. Fiercely competitive, the younger Jonny knew he could only beat his brother if a freak incident occurred. Both were, however, world champions.

Passages alternate between Alastair and Jonny and it almost becomes a kind of dialogue between the two of them. The book finishes off with Olympic glory for Alastair and World Championship glory for Jonny. What a year for them 2012 was.

I’m sure this won’t be the only book the boys pen – lots more to come – and a lot more medals and wins too – I hope!!

Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself

I’ve read a number of “self-development” books and made tweaks along the way that have made a small difference here and there. Finding Ultra should be taken for what it is which is, a truly inspirational and enjoyable read.

I have already embarked on a new eating regime. Why? I constantly felt lethargic due to the way I was eating and I also haven’t been able to shift the last stone (or two) of extra weight I have been carrying and as a result have never achieved the results I knew I was capable of. Finding Ultra addresses a lot of questions about reaching the next level, how to improve performance and everyday well-being.

Rich’s story from college swimming success through alcoholism to ultra-marathon champion is amazing. The book is packed full of great training, food and nutrition tips which can be constantly referred back to. The storytelling style of the book retelling tales of his ultra-triathlons and his adventures doing the EPIC5 challenge allowing for easy reading and as a fat bloke myself who is trying to discover fitness I can really identify with the guy.

This is a must read for anyone looking for inspiration to get fit and healthy. It’s never too late, age or weight don’t matter this will give you the will to succeed. The guy has consistently completed feats that the vast majority on the planet consider impossible. It just goes to show how amazing the body and mind are. For that I can excuse the constant promoting of a vegan diet. As far as the author is concerned these are things that are the corner stone of his metamorphosis and therefore he has every right to be evangelical about it. Will I give up meat? I think not!

One thing to take from the book is that when the time comes, you just have to dig deep, let the shutters come down and focus on the next 10m. This book is a must for endurance athletes.

A Life Without Limits

Chrissie Wellington’s book is a fascinating read. It isn’t the most finely crafted book but is much better than many sports stars’ autobiographies covering topics such as psychology, coaching, charity and people – all of which are really, really interesting. Chrissie Wellington is well-known to most with achievements at the highest level, recognition (MBE), sports awards, articles etc. and, as such, having knowledge and interest in triathlon is not required as A Life Without Limits is fast paced, a little like the apparent whirlwind of her life, but laced through with humour and self-deprecation.

The attention to detail in the book clearly reflects her attitude to many other aspects of her life – some may find the sections on triathlon training tedious, although to a triathlete her training sessions are there to be marvelled over, emulated and discussed endlessly. Of course, her triathlon story is amazing and achievements unparalleled, this has meant total dedication and pummelling the body and mind to regimes that are beyond all but the elite. An Ironman is a gruelling non-stop 2.4 miles Swim, 112 miles Cycle and a Marathon Run and I’m proud just to say I have completed two; Chrissie has won all 13 ironman competitions entered including 4 World Titles!

The book contains the obsessive-compulsive nature of Chrissie Wellington. Nothing second best accepted. She is at her most assured when laying out her academic credentials and achievements with three A’s at A-level, a 1st class degree at Birmingham and a Masters and starting a career in law before she became a professional in 2007 (aged 30) with the considerable help of Australian coach Brett Sutton.
There is no doubt that Chrissie Wellington is a supreme, dedicated, successful athlete right at the top of her sport but she also has emotional fragility and is rather accident-prone in nature (her “muppet” nickname appears to be well deserved). The contrasts between the “healthy” aspects of being a physically fit athlete, and the mentally unstable, tangled and decidedly murky, motivating forces and athlete-coach relationships are striking. She is clearly more fortunate than many athletes, as her life, family relationships and friendships formed before her career as a professional sportsperson have kept her feet well and truly on the ground.

Eating disorders (bulaemia and anorexia) are put into her overall life story. Vegetarianism followed by meat-eating, questions on her sexual orientation, broken limbs, muscle strains are challenges she has faced. Her parents and brother were of great help and, as such, are acknowledged in the book.
In her own words, A Life Without Limits, is one of a self- confessed obsessive- compulsive and ‘self-control freak’. She quotes Martin Luther King, “If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl”.

This book is inspirational and compelling and Chrissie Wellington is one amazing lady and she is testament to what you can extract from life with positivity and determination driving to achieve the best her body and mind can in ways us mere mortals may not begin to comprehend.

Thanks again and happy reading
Andrew

I am doing the Ironman UK 2014 for Scope. You can sponsor me at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ironman

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