Mind of a Runner: What I’m reading and listening to this week

Because I’m, well, me, I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of things about running, and I figured it would be helpful to collect them in one place for my own reference and to share the most useful information with others. So I’m starting a weekly Friday post rounding up articles, podcasts, books and whatever else I’ve worked my way through that week.


I just finished Paul C. Clerici’s “History of the Greater Boston Track Club,” which he wrote for the fortieth anniversary of the club in 2013.

I’m glad I read the book, but in some ways it was a frustrating read. As a chronicle of the club’s history, it’s packed full of names and dates and championships, of which GBTC has many. But that comprehensiveness also made it a tough read in several places, and I think shortchanged the parts I most enjoyed: the ones that told the story of the club and its evolution over time.

Clerici wrote the book in four months, and it certainly serves its intended purpose. Still, I can’t help feel like there’s a powerful GBTC story hidden among the dates and names that might have been of interest to more than just running geeks like me.

Top Takeaway: The shift to shoe company-sponsored teams irrevocably changed the landscape for GBTC and other running clubs (but it’s unclear how that shifted the overall landscape of American elite running longterm) .

Line that stuck with me: “Above all, I believe in the importance of belief in oneself and in the courage to think big,” by original GBTC coach Bill Squires.

Audience: Serious running geeks if you want to read the whole thing, but Chapter One, about the club’s first decade, is interesting for anybody curious about the days when Bill Rodgers and the GBTC were dominating running.

Training downtime

Greg McMillan’s newsletter is primarily designed to sell his training programs and coaching, but that doesn’t mean the information at the top isn’t good. This one didn’t necessarily have anything I hadn’t heard before, but it did offer some solutions at the bottom that I think are good structure for people who haven’t thought about what a break might look like.

Top Takeaway: Periodic training breaks are important mentally even if you feel good physically.

Line that stuck with me: “They just stack big goal on top of big goal. Then, when they’re asked to take some downtime between races, they don’t know what to do with themselves.”

Audience: Newer runners, or runners who are new to serious training.

The Morning Shakeout

This is the 150th edition of this weekly newsletter Mario Fraioli does each week, and it’s good chance for me to highlight a place where I often find interesting articles or media outlets I wasn’t previously aware of. If you like running and you don’t subscribe, you should.

Why 13 minutes pumping iron is better than spending forever in the gym

I linked to the Bicycling version, but it also appeared on Runner’s World since the two titles are part of the same division and share staff. This caught my eye because all of my experience with strength training requires 30-60 minutes for a full workout, and I’ve struggled with that this year, especially in the build-up for the marathon.

Top Takeaway: The one-set lifters gained equal strength and endurance, but spent much less time and added less muscle size. As a distance runner who is genetically geared for a stockier, more sprinter-like body, the combination of less time and less bulk makes me want to try this out.

Line that stuck with me: “The factor that matters most is lifting to failure—pushing hard enough that you truly can’t eek out another rep.”

Audience: Endurance athletes who have some familiarity with strength training and are looking for a more effective approach.

Tips to build mental strength from pro runner Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher is my age, so I remember reading about her rise and following her during my high school days (as a runner) and my college days (covering Mizzou track and field). During the last Olympic Trials, I was cheering for her to beat Des Linden, who I wasn’t familiar with at the time.

This was a digest of tips based on her new book, “Strong: A Runner’s Guide to Boosting Confidence and Becoming the Best Version of You.” I’ve been trying to focus on mental training this year, so this had been on my list to get. After reading the tips, I ordered it.

Top Takeaway: Training for the mental side of running is no different than the physical: small, consistent actions lead to more success than bigger, less regular efforts.

Line that stuck with me: “The goal is to create a track record of how you yanked off the Band-Aid and got closer to your goals.”

Audience: The book says it’s a runner’s guide, but these tips apply for anybody in any setting.

Portrait of a Master

I signed up for Tempo’s email newsletter a while back and promptly forgot about them. This profile of Eliud Kipchoge after his Berlin marathon world record sent me digging into their archives for more fantastic long reads. (My link list of stuff to read got much longer by the time I was done.)

Top Takeaway: There’s a reason Kipchoge is considered the greatest runner of all time, and it comes down to his mental and physical discipline and his dedication to his craft.

Line that stuck with me: “Think of another sport’s generational great, one of the most dominant athletes in history, who could similarly be found sweeping the floors of the team training complex.”

Audience: Kipchoge’s the most elite of the elites, but there’s good food for thought in here for any runner.

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