Powerful Books to Fuel Your Passion

booksIf you listen to the MTA podcast you probably know that we love to read! This photo is our living room.

Most of the following books that are mentioned here were published this year (2017) and we had the privilege of interviewing the authors.

I’ve linked to the Amazon page where you can find each book in case you want to pick one up for yourself (or as a gift this holiday season). These links contain our Amazon affiliate code so anything you order will give the MTA podcast a little kick back -which will make us do a happy dance.

Powerful Books to Fuel Your Passion

The Road to Sparta by Dean Karnazes is a fun and informative read that weaves together ancient history and Dean’s own adventures.

The 153 mile Spartathalon is probably the toughest footrace on the planet. Hot weather and a strict 36 hour cut-off resulted in only about 1/3 of the 300 athletes finishing the race the year Dean Karnazes ran it.

Lots of historical stones are turned and examined. You will have a greater appreciation for Pheidippides (whose run gave the marathon its name) when you’re done reading it.



Marathon Woman by Kathrine SwitzerMarathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer is not a new book but you can pick up the special 2017 anniversary edition. Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon (50 years ago) and she is truly a pioneer in our sport.

I was familiar with Kathrine’s story however I had never read her book until April of this year in preparation for our interview with her.

It is truly a great read and should be in every runner’s library!



Your Best Stride by Jonathan Beverly is an extremely practical book on head-to-toe running form optimization. The pointers it offers will likely stick in your mind every time you go for a run. That’s certainly what happened for me. Since reading this book and talking to Jonathan I’ve made it my goal to “run tall”.

Our interview with Jonathan Beverly was one of the most popular episodes this year.




The Four Tendencies by Gretchen RubinThe Four Tendencies is the newest book by productivity guru and New York Times Best Selling author Gretchen Rubin. We like to have Gretchen on the podcast at the beginning of each year to give us all a motivational kick in the pants.

The Four Tendencies (upholder, obliger, questioner, and rebel) are personality profiles that reveal what makes a person stick with a new habit. It is uncanny how accurate they are! Take it from me, I’m a rebel married to an upholder.



Race Everything by Bart YassoRace Everything by Bart Yasso draws upon his 30 year span at Runners’ World Magazine where he was sent on assignment to 45-50 races per year. He personally completed over 1,000 races!

For those (like Coach Angie) who spend a lot of time planning their race calendar you will get a kick out of this book. It is full of Bart’s top picks and funny vignettes from his races. Plus there are training plans for various distances and tons of practical tips.




Peak PerformancePeak Performance by by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness explains what high performers do differently and how we can condition ourselves to achieve more in running and life.

Some of the interesting tools and tips you will get from this book are:

-What leads to breakthrough thinking.
-How elite runners view stress versus how non-elites view stress.
-The amount of sleep peak performers get.
-And how to prime your body and brain through routines.


FootnotesFootnotes: How Running Makes Us Human by Vybarr Cregan-Reid is the work of a running enthusiast and academic from the University of Kent. It is not a quick read but definately a must for those who like to digest meatier books.

With Footnotes you get a tour of history, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, literature, psychology, barefoot running, and environmental studies all rolled into one narrative with Venice, Paris, London, and Seattle as the backdrop.



How to Lose a Marathon by Joel Cohen pokes fun of the bits of running culture that one stumbles into as a newby -like the horrible taste of gels, thighs rubbing together, long porta-pottie lines, and losing toenails.

Joel Cohen is a writer and producer for The Simpsons who, as a self-professed couch potato, decided to take the plunge into marathon training. Joel’s experiences as a new runner might resemble your own and will have you chuckling in agreement.

This book is a quick and entertaining read.



Train Smart Run ForeverTrain Smart Run Forever by Bill Pierce and Scott Murr is a great book for masters runners (runners over the age of 40). The authors, who work at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training, are masters runners with decades and decades of racing under their belts.

Their approach to training is built on a “less is more” philosophy -and a 7 hour workout week.

We here at MTA also believe “less is more” and our beginner training plans are built on 3 running days per week with balanced cross-training in-between. We’ve found this approach to work best for preventing injury and burnout in many runners.


Reflections on a Gold Medal LifeMy Marathon by Frank Shorter is the autobiography of the last American to win gold in the Olympic Marathon distance -which he did at the Munich games in 1972. It was a tumultuous year.

There are so many interesting and tragic facets to Frank’s life that keep the reader engaged. Though it was published in 2016, I thought I’d include it this list because I ran the Munich Marathon this year and was reminded of Frank’s story.

Runners today finish in the Olympic Stadium just like in 1972.


Headstrong Head Strong by Dave Asprey is all about how to hack your environment to improve your cognitive performance.

Dave Asprey has a top-ranked podcast in the iTunes Health Category called Bulletproof Radio. If you are into bio-hacking you will love this book (if you don’t already own it). Some of his views are definitely on the fringe yet Dave is careful to site his sources.

One great take-a-way from the book is understanding inflammation in the body and its role in weight gain and mental fatigue.



High Performance HabitsHigh Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard is a book I’m still currently reading. The author is a top success coach and motivational speaker.

Unlike a lot of pop-psychology books in the self-help genre, this book proceeds in an academic style. No fluff.

Brenden distills the six essential habits that make people extraordinary and bases his findings on an extensive multi-year study of high performers.

I guess if I was a higher performer I’d have it read by now. Oh well, we are all a work in process!


Thanks for checking out my list! Leave a comment below. What did you read this year?

6 Responses to Powerful Books to Fuel Your Passion

  1. Phil Min December 4, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    Trevor and Angie,

    I recommend Personal Record by Rachel Toor. She is former writer for Running Times (like Jonathan Beverly) and you see her articles in other running publications. She would also make a great guest for the MTA podcast.

    • Trevor Spencer December 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation Phil! That’s one I need to put on my to-read list.

  2. Foti Panagakos December 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks Trevor. I mentioned to Angie during the race this weekend that I had just finished Peak Performance. Great book. All the others have either been read or I have waiting to read. Super list – Foti

    • Trevor Spencer December 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

      I always knew you were a peak performer!

  3. Lewis December 5, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    From one heavy reader to another: I like your living room! Seems like a good start! 😉

  4. Maggie December 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    Really love the guest authors and have found many good reads thanks to the podcast – keep them coming!

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