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My Surprising Reading List: Extinctions, Rituals, and Drugs

Every week I share actionable coaching advice that can help you become a better runner.

But where do I get ideas for the 400+ articles I’ve written?


Click to Tweet: “Read more books! Here are 4 ideas from @JasonFitz1”

Most of them come from the usual suspects:

  • Over 15 years of competitive running experience
  • 10+ coaches that have shaped my views on training
  • My USA Track & Field coaching certification
  • Years of coaching experience helping runners of all abilities improve

These experiences are invaluable. But they’re not everything.

What has helped me learn more about running – and come up with most of my training ideas and articles – is a voracious appetite for books.

And while I love running books (I own almost all of them), often my beliefs are challenged when I read something other than a standard training book.

So today let’s try an experiment: I’ll share what’s on my current reading list and in turn I want your book ideas.

Leave a comment on this post with the books on your reading list. I want some fresh ideas and I think we can all learn something new from what other runners are reading (even if it has nothing to do with running!).

I’ll choose a random commenter and buy them a book of their choice – just because. Onward!

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Confession: I’m fascinated by dinosaurs and their extinction. If you haven’t already unsubscribed, let me continue by saying that Jurassic Park was a favorite book and movie when I was a kid. Even the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact were awesome because of their discussion of extinction events.Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction argues we’re in the middle of another mass extinction – and we’re causing it. With record numbers of critically endangered and extinct species, we’re in the middle of the next big biological extinction that’s predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

From the book description:

Kolbert shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

Spooky. While I haven’t yet started reading it, I’m tempted to stop reading my other books to start!

You can check out The Sixth Extinction on Amazon here.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, edited and with text by Mason Currey

For some reason, I find the everyday habits, rituals and schedules of people captivating. After all, the productivity of influential people like Dickens, Warhol and Darwin is something to be admired. How did these people structure their day to get their important tasks completed?Daily Rituals

Some self-medicated with amphetamine and other drugs. Others consumed unreasonable amounts of coffee and donuts. In Francis Bacon’s case, he actually enjoyed working with a hangover.

When Tim Ferriss wrote about the book on his blog I immediately bought it for how it showcases the routines of interesting, creative people.

As an entrepreneur who sets his own schedule, I have the freedom to have any wacky schedule that I like. But typically, I have a normal 9-5 schedule – though this book might give me some ideas on more fun, productive ways to schedule my day.

Learning from top performers is one of the fastest way to success and this book is one way to do it. Just like listening to top coaches about the marathon or a series of experts for injury prevention, I like to study those who are on top of their game.

You can check out Daily Rituals on Amazon here.

The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

And The Wolf of Wall Street is certainly play; the book is now a blockbuster movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio (who IMHO deserves an Oscar for his performance) and directed by Martin Scorsese that chronicles the rise and fall of a (crazy) stockbroker on Wall Street.Wolf of Wall Street

Jordan Belfort made tens of millions of dollars a year and used it to abuse drugs, prostitutes, and the law. A true story, it’s a ridiculous read of financial and moral excess.

It’s certainly not the most well-written book (Belfort wrote it himself while in prison) but it’s a highly entertaining glimpse into the life of what it was like for some high rollers on Wall Street who abused the system, gamed their clients, and ultimately fell victim to their own greed.

My favorite passage so far:

I craned back my neck and put six drops in each eye, triple the recommended dose.

In that very instant, an odd thought came bubbling up into my brain, namely: What kind of man abuses Visine? And, for that matter, why had I taken six Bayer aspirin? It made no sense. After all, unlike Ludes, coke, and Xanax, where the benefits of increasing the dose are plain as day, there was absolutely no valid reason to exceed the recommended doses of Visine and aspirin.

You can check out The Wolf of Wall Street on Amazon here.

The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximize Your Performance by Steve Magness

It’s about time Steve Magness wrote a book!

Magness writes the popular Science of Running blog and now has a book of the same name that dives into the more scientific, technical side of training to reach peak performance. The Amazon description explicitly tells readers, “If you’re looking for how to finish your first 5k, this book is not for you.”Science of Running

Instead, you’ll learn how good you can be if you test your limits and push your body to what it’s truly capable of accomplishing.

To do that, the book goes through the science of effective training for runners (weird… no mention of CrossFit… ). It was published just recently so I haven’t started reading it yet, but a glimpse at the table of contents has me more excited than a college freshman at his first keg party.

Here are a few sections that I’m particularly excited to read:

  • Amplifiers and Dampeners of Adaptation
  • General to Specific: A Classification System
  • Strength Endurance – the Key to Kick Development
  • Workout Examples and Progressions

Magness has coached high school, college, recreational, and elite runners and formerly was an assistant for the Nike Oregon Project. His unique experiences and MS in Exercise Science is sure to give this book an interesting perspective.

You can check out The Science of Running on Amazon here.

What Are You Reading? (And Win a Book!)

I read a lot of books – and this is just a glimpse of my growing reading list. Would you be interested in seeing regular updates of the books I find interesting and worthy of your time (even if they’re not necessarily about running)?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

And don’t forget – share your favorite book in the comments and I’ll choose a random person to win a book of their choice.

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