Running on empty

Book cover of You are an ironmanIt’s now less than 12 months before I have a go at my first middle distance triathlon, the Half Ironman. That in itself is a worrying thought, but at least it’s 11 months away, and not 11 weeks – now that would be a cause for concern. Who decided that a half ironman was middle distance? I bet it doesn’t feel like middle distance when you’re out there, half way through the run with 10 kilometres still to go. Yes, I know that a full ironman is considered long distance, but really – middle distance? It sounds as unglamorous as “middle age”.

Anyway, there are no shortage of triathlon training books on the library shelves, should you need some guidance. I have to say I do dip into them occasionally, if only to discover the things I’m doing wrong with my own self-led training. I have tried to do the group exercise thing with swimming and running, just to see if it helped, but I found myself daunted by the prowess of the other group members, and so didn’t continue with that idea. Training by yourself isn’t for everyone, I agree, but it beats having to make friendly conversation – have you tried that when you’re out of breath? It’s all to do with the psychology, and if you wanted to work on your sports psychology, the library – naturally – has that covered.

Cover of 80/20 runningIf you would like a bit of help with your own running activities, you could try this book – 80/20 Running. The subtitle is “Run Stronger And Race Faster By Training Slower”. Anything that involves running slowly would have to be right up my street. Can I also recommend the American edition of Runner’s World magazine, not only because of the excellent content, but because of their endpiece article every month, written by John Bingham, aka ‘the Penguin’, who is an unrepentant advocate of slow running. For a comprehensive look at the whole subject of running and how to do it right, there’s Running Science. Just don’t take it too seriously – it’s supposed to be fun, after all.

For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.

 

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Sneaky characters, intrigue, love, betrayal, and dressing sheep in helmets to frighten off the English army

Cover of Gemini by Dorothy DunnettI’m always excited to read new books, whether it’s a debut or the latest in a series, but there’s something equally exciting about discovering a new favourite author who already has an extensive back catalogue.

I’m now halfway through Dorothy Dunnett‘s House of Niccolò series with four to go, having finished her six-part Chronicles of Lymond earlier this year. I’m not always a fan of book series, but these work so well both individually and as a unit that I can’t complain. Unfortunately some books are out of print, so the library may not have the full sequence, but each book stands alone — often taking place in different countries, but also building on the characters and relationships in a way that rewards faithful readers.

Both the House of Niccolò series and the Chronicles of Lymond are historical novels, with the House of Niccolò taking place from 1460 onwards and Lymond from 1547. While Niccolò Rising begins in Bruges, Belgium, and Lymond hails from Scotland, both protagonists travel widely over the course of their narratives.

I love being amused, surprised and betrayed by my books so these are definitely my cup of tea, with the bonus that I’m getting an education on various historical events that I’ve failed to learn or retain from school. Plus it will hopefully make me look intelligent and well-read when I go to Europe next year.

Yes, well spotted, my previous post about armchair travel has inspired me to book a ticket to Italy. I’m looking forward to eating my way around the country and pretending I’m in Room With a View or Enchanted April. After reading Disorderly Knights, third in Dunnett’s Lymond series, I have even added a jaunt to Malta. Reading is definitely dangerous to the budget! On the plus side I now know all about the Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller, unreliable protectors of Malta in 1551 and modern-day ambulance service. One mustn’t skimp on a good education.

Other great historical series:

Cadfael series by Ellis Peters in the library catalogueElizabeth Wein in the library catalogueGillian Bradshaw in the library catalogue

What are your favourite historical series?