12-31-20: How to Read a Running Book
Today's Think Better Newsletter is about reading better.
Reading is a fundamental way of engaging with the sport. It's a core component to being your best. And books are particularly great resources because they are deeply researched and make detailed, cohesive arguments. They allow you to slow down and think.
We should be reading books, but in the right way. So what's the best way to read a running book?
When reading non-fiction, I recommend following these three principles:
1. The point of reading the book is to get better. Reading for pleasure is fine. But if you are reading to get better, then you should also have a system or strategy.
2. You (the reader) are in control. You have no obligation to complete a book, nor start on page one. Skimming is a perfectly legitimate strategy. So is reading one chapter and putting it aside. The Table of Contents...it's just a suggestion. You are in control. Read what you need to read to get better.
3. You are responsible for getting something out of it. What we get out of a book is up to us. Books are vessels for ideas. But ideas alone have no value. The value is gained from applying them.
Here's my simple system for reading any running book:
1. Decide to improve an aspect of your training as a result of reading the book. Your "why" is to improve. The "how" is for you to find. You can allow the author to set the path or you can go straight to the part that you think is most applicable. (And yes, this applies to my book as well!)
2. When you find that idea, write it down and/or decide how to implement it right away. Keep it simple and build it into your training program now. If you go weeks without doing it, you wasted your time.
3. Share the book or the idea with whomever you can. Talking about it reinforces it, and having others supporting your change makes it easier to sustain it.
If you're on a team, make this a norm and watch the quantity and quality of small improvements grow and grow.
What was the last running book you read? What did you improve as a result of reading it?
Go Be More,
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
"A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, "How to Build a Boat."
- Stephen Wright
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