IMG_3971I’ve already written about my books here, and I thought I’d get a list together of my top must read books to do with, running, health, fitness, nutrition, fasting and other stuff.

Most of them are must reads, others are ones which have informed me well, or have changed my view point on things.  All are worth a look. 🙂


The Smarter Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor


I’ve written about the Smarter Science of Slim here and here before.  Jonathan Bailor brings a lot of complex information together and makes it easy to read.  He describes how everyone has a set point of weight and that we can get to our set point by eating well.  He talks about how we should think of our food in terms of nutrition and that diets don’t work.

He talks about SANE foods – foods which are Satisfying, not Aggressive, Nutritious and not Efficient and says that a naturally balanced diet is 33% carbs, 33% fat, 33% protein.  He also describes how the agriculture business and governments (mainly American) have promoted grains as being healthy when all we really need to do is Eat Smarter: Non starchy Veg, Fish, Lean Meat, Berries, Citrus Fruits, Eggs, Milled Flax Seed, Nuts.  What our ancestors would have eaten. :-) He talks about Exercising Smarter too, spending less time exercising, and doing more exercise if you really want to.

The Smarter Science of Slim comes in lots of formats: Podcasts, Book, Kindle Book, Facebook page, Website, Newsletter, and this Free helpful 7 day quick start PDF guide.

Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

Racing Weight

When I read this book it gave me a great idea of what my ‘Racing Weight’ should be, and gave me the idea to create my own Target Weight Calculator here.  The book advises how to calculate your ideal Racing Weight, and provides a good 5 step plan to help you get leaner and lighter for competition.

By improving the quality of your diet, managing your appetite, and timing important nutrients you can perform better, and look and feel great.  The book also explains how you can calculate your ideal training weight and provides examples of athletes diets and recipes to help you along.

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
This book introduces the idea that obesity is ‘malnutrition’ and is caused by people eating poor quality foods in sugar and flour and not by overeating or lack of exercise.

IMG_3966In a nutshell, if you eat sugar, flour and other high carb foods, you generate a lot of insulin.  Insulin is a very powerful hormone which stops you burning fat, and promotes fat storage instead.

The book has good guidance on how to improve diet and health and is backed up by lots of research. It opposes the  well known myth that ‘low fat’ is good, and promotes a type of protein based Atkin’s type diet for weight loss.  I can imagine the high protein diet could be followed for a time, but I’d rather follow the Smarter Science of Slim ways if I was honest.  And the one thing annoyed me about it… was after talking carbs down the whole way, at the end he more or less said… ‘if you exercise a lot, you need your carbs.’

I think it would be a good book for someone who is overweight or obese and wanting to lose weight, however there may be better options which are more sustainable as a way of life out there.  Or, as the name suggests, a good book for anyone wanting to understand why we get fat (and what we can do about it).

Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin


I put this book on my list because it is an easy to read, straight forward sensible and at points funny book about eating healthily.   And because the part about ‘Soda is Liquid Satan’ more or less made me give up diet coke!

Unlike standard diet books, it actually makes you laugh out loud with its truthful, smart-mouthed revelations. Behind all the attitude, however, there’s solid guidance. Skinny Bitch suggests we follow a healthful lifestyle that promotes drinking water, eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and encourages women to get excited about feeling “clean and pure and energised.” It suggests what you should and should not do in trying to lose weight, and lets you make up your own mind and take it from there.


The Alternate-Day Diet by James B Johnson

The alternate day diet

Based on scientific and clinical studies that show how restricting calories only every other day activates a gene called SIRTI the ‘skinny’ gene which results in reduced inflammation, improved insulin resistance, bettercellular energy production and releasing fat cells from around the organs to promote weight loss.

This book explains clearly the benefits and science behind fasting.  From my point of view, I don’t have weight to lose and I don’t particularly want to be thinking of going on a ‘diet’ as such, but this book gives you the background about fasting and everything you need to know to start fasting. The length of your fasts, and whether you do it alternate day fasting or 1 out of 7 days, or 2 out of 7 days is up to you.

See more info on fasting here, and how to do intermittent fasting here.

The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting – Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer by Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer.

A follow up from the Horizon Programme: Eat, Fast, Live Longer, this book gives you everything you need to know about getting started with Fasting.

Dr Michael Mosley, presents the fascinating science behind the 5:2 diet. Mimi Spencer, award-winning food and fashion writer, explains the practicalities of how to go about it.  The Fast Diet also includes a calorie counter, full colour section, and a whole section of Fast 500 and Fast 600 menu plans which will enable you to incorporate this groundbreaking weight-loss system into your daily life.

IF fastingI don’t go for the 500 calories a day, I just have water and green tea when I fast and maybe a protein shake after exercise.  But each to their own. 🙂

If you didn’t see the Horizon Programme (more info here), this will give you what you need to know to start making Fasting part of your lifestyle.


The Competitive Runners Handbook by Bob Glover & Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover


Whether you are just starting out as a runner, or an experienced runner, this book is a most definite must buy for you.  This book is very, very thorough. It contains everything you need to guide you to success for 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon racing–and all the distances in between.

I bought it initially when I was training for my first marathon, and it provides plenty of information about how to train for and complete marathons successfully, as well as information for shorter distances.  It has training plans for each distance and shows you how you can make your own tailored training plan too.

Although it is called the Competitive Runner’s Handbook, it does cater for beginners as well as the speed merchants who we see disappearing off into the distance. This book is a must. I guarantee once you pick it up you will not be able to put it down, and you’ll keep going back to it for more information too!

See more in relation to this book here:
Half Marathon Strategy, How to run faster?, How do you go about training for a marathon?, Top 10 Marathon Tips

Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman

I’ve recently picked this book up again to get a better understanding of how to hopefully get my body to rely more on my abundant fat stores, instead of the limited glycogen (carbs) stores when running long.  And it’s reminded me how good this book it.


In this book, Stu Mittleman shows you how to think, train and eat so that you can create energy, go the distance and feel great doing it.  The book changed the way I thought about running – from always thinking about ‘how fast I can go’ and having targets which were time and pace based, I learned how to use my heart rate and how I felt to improve my training and how I competed at events.  I used his ideas in my first Ultramarathon event, the D33 and did really well – totally not bothered about time or pace… I ran only on my heart rate and it was brilliant.

From this book I worked out what my Aerobic, Efficient and Anaerobic heart rate zones were and I now use these zones in almost every training run I do.  I made up a Heart Rate Training page and Heart Rate Zones Calculator which will work out for you what your heart rate should be in specific zones.

As well as training in specific heart rate zones, Stu shares how to think for the distance, and how to eat for the distance.  He explains about why we should remove sugar in our diet so that we are less dependant on sugar as an energy source (and more dependant on fat).  He teaches you how to make nutritional choices which leave you energised all day long.  A must read for a different view point from the normal ‘run faster’ / ‘faster is best’ schools of thought.

I might go as far to say this book might change your (running) life.

See more here: Heart Rate Training,

The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel


This was one of the first books I bought about training.  I was training for my first Triathlon, and learned a lot from the periodisation training methods described in the book.  It has sections on the Swim, Bike and Run sections of triathlon, and discusses transition and strength training and nutrition too.  Joe Friel is one of the most recognised names in triathlon coaching and the best-selling author of many titles.

The Triathlete’s Training Bible allows you to create your own training plans and gives you lots of information and advice on every aspect of training for a triathlon.  I use some of the periodisation training ideas even toA must read for anyone wanting to get into Triathlons.

The Big Bible of Endurance Training and Racing by Phil Maffetone


I initially wasn’t going to include this one, but it’s by author Phil Maffetone who is a font of all knowledge in Endurance Training and Racing.  The book was a present, and it’s massive so I will confess that I’ve only read bits of it, but of what I’ve read it is a good book.

He coached / helped Stu Mittleman who got a lot of his theories from him: Training by heart rate / Removing Sugar and processed foods from your diet / Eat Fat, Burn Fat.  Phil Maffetone’s method is backed with quality anecdotes and good science and makes sense.  I might pick it up again and see what else I can pick up from it.  🙂


Cardio Strength Training by Robert dos Remedios


This is THE book which got me started doing Circuits and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  In the book, Coach Robert dos Remedios explains what Tabatas, Complex and Density training methods are.  I got a Tabata HIIT app for my iPhone and created my own crazy circuits to follow, and use the Tabata principle in my strength training and sprint work.

The program includes: innovative combination exercises that incorporate up to four muscle-building movements in every rep; an array of cardio exercises designed to specifically complement each strength-training exercise for increased fat loss; and, a cutting-edge nutrition plan with meals and snacks that amplify the results of every workout.

He has another book: Power Training which I also have, but it repeats a lot of the information and the Cardio Strength Training book provides more than enough information for you.

You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren


Along the same lines as Cardio Strength Training, this book provides lots of exercises which are body weight exercises as opposed to exercises with weights.

The start of the book is mainly about the how and why the exercises work. In short by using your body weight you can exercise anywhere and by changing leverage/ angles of exercises they can be made easier or much much harder. The idea is you exercise regularly, build muscle and this muscle burns calories 24 hours a day.

A good guide to help you workout where ever you are, no excuses! 🙂


Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin

IMG_3960If Slow Burn is the revelatory book for running, Total Immersion is the same for swimming.

For the past fifteen years, veteran swim coach Terry Laughlin has been teaching adults how to swim better – and enjoy it more – by using his simple and original techniques. Laughlin turns traditional swimming beliefs inside out as he explains that it’s technique – not athletic ability – that makes a strong swimmer. Laughlin teaches ‘Fishlike Swimming,’ focusing on slipping through the water rather than using muscle to overpower it. The key is working with the water, not against it – learning to swim ever faster and farther without losing a sense of flow, grace, economy, and balance.

The only thing I’d say for it is, that it takes a bit of effort to try and remember what all of the names of the drills are and what you’re meant to do.  It seems so much easier just to go for a swim instead!

When I got the book in January 2012, I created these 2500m Total Immersion Swim Sessions and on that page there’s a link to youtube videos of the drills. Unfortunately I didn’t get the time to spend swimming to use the techniques, so I’m not sure if they’d improve my swimming.  Total Immersion does make you think about swimming more efficiently though.

See more here: New Total Immersion swim sets, Total Immersion Swim Session 1, Total Immersion Drill Videos

Swimming Teaching and Coaching Level 2 by the Amateur Swimming Association

IMG_3968THE book if you want to either learn how to teach people to swim, or learn to swim yourself.

It gives you well illustrated information about how to layout lessons, teach the four strokes, and other requirements of swimming (diving, push & glide, competitive swimming, floating, health & safety, teaching beginners).  It’s the material the ASA uses for their level 2 qualification and has helped me become the brilliant swimming coach that I am today. 😉


The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery by Sam Rountree

IMG_3963The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery is a comprehensive, practical exploration of the art and science of athletic rest. Certified triathlon and running coach and yoga instructor Sage Rountree guides you to full recovery and improved performance, revealing how much rest you need, how to measure your fatigue, and how to make the best use of recovery tools.

I think people tend to forget about taking adequate rest and recovery sometimes, and whilst some of the recovery periods quoted in the book seem a bit excessive, the content of the book is good.

I believe that rest and recovery is as important as training and nutrition when getting a balanced regime together.  Rest doesn’t necessarily have to be planned, but it’s important to know when you need it.  This books helps you to understand the importance of rest and recovery and how you can include it in your training.

Self Help

The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters

IMG_3967The Chimp Paradox is a powerful mind management model that can help you become a happy, confident, healthier and more successful person. Dr Steve Peters explains the struggle that takes place within your mind and then shows how to apply this understanding to every area of your life so you can:

– Recognise how your mind is working
– Understand and manage your emotions and thoughts
– Manage yourself and become the person you would like to be.

It is humorous at points and has good analogies of how to recognise and manage your emotions and be confident, succesful and happy. 🙂

The Happiness Code by Domonique Bertolucci

The Happiness Code is a beautiful little book, with a simple 10 step guide of how to choose to be happy.  As I was reading it I was pleased to see that I already lived most of the ideas in it like living for now, expecting the best, being grateful and being the best you can be.

The chapters are not too long and I really got hooked on it, it was so easy to read.   By encouraging you to stop trying to be perfect and instead incorporate its ten principles into your life, you will finally discover the secret to lasting happiness. With real life examples illustrating each of the ten keys, the lessons of The Happiness Code are crystal clear and instantly inspiring.

Coaching with NLP: How to be a Master Coach by Joseph O’Connor & Andrea Lages

Coaching with NLPCoaching with NLP is another well written book which looks at how you can get the best out of yourself and others and be the best you can be.  Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the psychology of excellence. It is based on the practical skills that are used by all good communicators to obtain excellent results.

This book provides guidelines and skills for an improved all-round performance as a coach, along with the skills necessary to look after, organize and coach yourself.

Travel Books

IMG_3970I’ll not review each book, but I’d like to say that when I go on holiday abroad, I find that the Frommers Guides are really good and give me everything I need to know about a place.  In the past I’ve purchased their books and one of their audiobooks about San Francisco.

I’ve also got a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland which has lots of good information about traveling in Scotland.  

For walks in Scotland I have 2 of the AA 50 Walks Series: Glasgow & South West Scotland, and Scottish Highland & Islands. They’re great for just picking a place to go and go for a walk.  Here’s one of the walks we did from it.

New Books

Here are the new books I got for Christmas 2012… quite a few to get through!!


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