Often times, the hardest part of working out is getting started. Whether it’s because of an off day, an injury or the fact that you’re still recovering from a tough workout earlier in the week, mental workout blocks can be difficult to overcome. Sometimes, a dose of literature does the trick and inspires us to amp up our own workout plan. Here are five books that do it for me:
Eat and Run
Scott Jurek is an ultramarathon runner. He’s pounded 135 miles through Death Valley in the Badwater Ultramarathon, run for 24 hours straight and won the 100-mile Western States Endurance Race seven times in a row. But he didn’t start as a runner. In Eat and Run, he tells the story of his path to one of the most hardcore endurance runners of our time, not to mention his transformation into a vegan eater. Growing up in a small town in Minnesota, Jurek dealt with family stress, competitive sports and a whole lot of meat and potatoes, all of which played a role in the lifestyle he now leads. But his book is more than just an inspirational memoir. It offers running advice and yummy, vegan recipes at the end of each chapter. Plus, after reading about his 50-mile training, suddenly conquering that 6-miler you’ve been working on seems a lot more manageable.
Matt Samet is a daredevil rock climber, former editor of Climbing Magazine and recovered drug addict. In Death Grip, Samet speaks out about his battle against benzos and how the drugs affected his sport, physical and mental health and life in general. His story is compelling and inspirational. If Samet can return from a world of drug addiction, depression and symptoms of withdrawal to his love of climbing and a bit of light running, you can certainly take an extra Pilates class this week.
Born to Run
Another running book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, depicts the Mexican tribe of distance runners, the Tarahumara Indians. Like Jurek of Eat and Run (Jurek actually meets and runs with them at one point), the tribe runs hundreds of miles with seemingly endless energy. The hope is that Born to Run, not only inspires its readers, but grants them a taste of the same energy.
Light of Yoga
Light of Yoga functions as more of a guidebook than a memoir. It offers photographs and detailed descriptions of many yoga poses. It also focuses heavily on the mentality and philosophy behind yoga, bringing inspiration and meaning to each practice. Whether you’re a runner, lifter, dancer or simply looking to get in better shape, this book can walk you through yoga in your own living room.
Into Thin Air
Jon Krakauer is a mountaineer, adventurer and my personal favorite author. Into Thin Air is one of his classics. It documents the intense physical and mental stress Krakauer and his fellow mountain climbers endured as they prepared and attempted to conquer Mt. Everest in 1997. Krakauer’s book documents the real story of his climb of Everest, in which several mistakes were made and several died. He tells his story bravely and beautifully and, if people risk their lives to conquer Everest, climbing until they’re drunk on the lack of Oxygen and losing fingers and toes to frostbite, even your most extreme workout plan won’t seem too unbearable.