My favorite blogger is Seth Godin, who writes about business, marketing, and being remarkable. His blog is one of the first things I check every morning, in part for inspiration, in part for entertainment. Occasionally, he even inspires one of my posts (here and here).
He just wrote a post about how to read a business book, that I think every runner should read. Why? Because running books are essentially the same. A great training book is trying to get you to train differently, and it has to overcome the hurdle of your motivation to get you to do it. So it takes a simple concept that can be outlined in a few pages and bullet points, and spends 95% of its time selling you on trying it out.
Given that, here are Seth's three main pieces of advice for anyone about to pick up a business book, adapted for runners. This is great advice!
1. Decide, before you start, that you’re going to change three things about what you do in your training. Then, as you’re reading, find the three things and do them. The goal of the reading, then, isn’t to persuade you to change, it’s to help you choose what to change.
2. If you’re going to invest a valuable asset (like time), go ahead and make it productive. Use a post-it or two, or some index cards or a highlighter. Not to write down stuff so you can forget it later, but to create marching orders. It’s simple: if three weeks go by and you haven’t taken action on what you’ve written down, you wasted your time.
3. It’s not about you, it’s about the next person. The single best use of a running book is to help someone else. Sharing what you read, handing the book to a person who needs it... pushing those around you to get in sync and to take action--that’s the main reason it’s a book, not a video or a seminar. A book is a souvenir and a container and a motivator and an easily leveraged tool. Hoarding books makes them worth less, not more.
Effective coaches and teammates hand books to their team. Not so they can be reminded of high school, but so that next week she can say to them, "are we there yet?"
The value of a book is in what you do with it. I've made a list of 104 great running books (and counting), but unless you've adopted this mindset from the beginning and opened the book ready to change your training, you're not going to get much out of a running book.
Happy reading (and more productive training)!