One of my goals for this year was to read more books. I used to be an avid reader but recently I’ve let that slip and rarely open a book. In an effort to read more this year, I’ve chosen inspirational books about sport, particularly by every day athletes who have overcome obstacles and fears. Here are the eight books I’ve enjoyed so far…
Man vs Ocean by Adam Walker*
Adam became the only Briton to complete the Oceans 7, swimming unaided across the seven most deadly ocean crossings in the world. He endured freezing temperatures, being stung by a Portuguese Man ‘o’ War and encounters with sharks. Man vs Ocean recounts his training and each swimming challenge beginning with his first endurance swim- the English Channel in 2008. Like many endurance athletes, Adam fitted his training around a busy day job. His training involved a 200 mile round trip from Nottingham to Dover every weekend to swim for 12 hours in the British channel before being back at work on Monday morning. Adam made headlines in 2014, when a pod of dolphins surrounded him for four hours protecting him from a Great White Shark whilst crossing the Cook Strait in New Zealand. Adam actually wrote some open water swimming tips for my blog back in January- read them here.
Hollie’s Road to Kona by Hollie Cradduck
Crossing the finish line at Ironman Wales was supposed to be the happiest moment of Hollie’s life, instead she receives the news that her 19-year old niece Rosie has tragically died of an epileptic seizure whilst supporting at the race. Instantly Hollie’s euphoria was replaced with grief and her life was turned upside down. The death devastates the entire family, but Hollie decides to channel her grief into a new challenge- she makes it her mission to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii to honour Rosie’s legacy. Her heartbreaking and brutally honest story involves the breakdown of her relationship, a move to Lanzarote, the loss of another family member and a battle against depression. Hollie delivers on her promise to Rosie and achieves the elusive qualifying slot for Kona- the impossible dream became possible.
Run, Ride, Sink or Swim by Lucy Fry
Like many other amateur athletes, Lucy Fry starts out as a curious newbie drawn to the challenge of triathlon. She immerses herself in the sport for a year to discover what makes triathlon the fastest growing sport amongst women. Beginning with a sprint distance in St Lucia, she then progresses onto an Olympic distance in Lanzarote. Next up are two more sprint distances in Hyde Park and Blenheim Palace, with her season culminating in a final Olympic distance in Newcastle. Lucy overcomes the fears and anxieties that we all experience as first-time triathletes, whilst juggling training, work and relationships. Sharing anecdotes and tips, her story is entertaining and easy to relate to.
Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run by Andy Holgate
As an overweight librarian who has struggled with health issues throughout his life, Andy is the most unlikely person to take on an Ironman. His triathlon journey starts as a dare set by a friend, but he quickly falls in love with the sport and only 11 months later completes his first Ironman distance race, The Big Woody. Andy is due to get married only a week after his big race and manages to persuade three of his friends to race as part of his stag weekend. Andy doesn’t have the smoothest journey to race day- he ends up in hospital, deals with family crises, encounters crocodiles and deadly amoebas but still finishes The Big Woody in just over 13 hours. Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run is adapted from Andy’s popular blog Ironholgs and he has since released a second book- Can’t Sleep Can’t Train Can’t Stop which is on my reading wishlist.
Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessell
Anna Kessell explores our relationships to sport and exercise by sharing the stories of a range of women. She addresses the barriers for women watching and participating in sport, including sexism, periods, pregnancy, body image and the gender pay gap. Anna urges us to reclaim sport in this passionate, informative and thought-provoking read. I was lucky enough to meet the author at her book launch, which was held very aptly in a school gym.
The Butterfly Within by Rachel Bown*
The Butterfly Within is written in a diary format throughout a year of triathlete Rachels Bown’s life as she battles against a brain tumor. After noticing a change in her eyesight and a series of headaches, Rachel is diagnosed with a brain tumour which is pressing on the nerve which controls her right eye. Following a 6 month wait, she undergoes a complicated 12-hour operation to remove the tumour. Despite initially making a quick recovery, she is soon back in hospital as she has developed an life-threatening infection and needs further surgery. Rachel’s story is written with humour and and honesty, throughout the darkest times she remains positive and grateful. Just a year on from her diagnosis, Rachel is back to health and achieves her goal of representing Great Britain at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships.
Transplant Triathlete by Diccon Driver*
Transplant Triathlete tells the story of Diccon Driver after he is diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy, a condition where antibodies attack the kidneys. His reaction to his diagnosis is to ensure that he stays as fit as possible and so on a whim, he enters the London Triathlon. Diccon progresses on to complete multiple other triathlons and finds that focusing on his training helps him to cope with his kidney disease. Diccon’s symptoms become progressively worse as his kidneys deteriorate but he is determined not to let his condition get the better of him. Doctors tell Diccon that completing an Ironman triathlon in his condition is impossible, but he proves them wrong by finishing the Outlaw with just 20% kidney function. Shortly after his race, he goes onto dialysis as the disease has caused his kidneys to fail completely. Diccon’s brother steps forward as a donor and the transplant goes ahead, giving Diccon back his quality of life.
Books marked with * were received as review samples, but all opinions are my own. Contain affiliate links- I earn a small commission which goes towards the running of Paddle Pedal Pace when you purchase via these links.
Can you recommend any sporty books?