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The best triathlon books to add to your reading list

Need some sporting inspiration? These triathlon books are just the answer...


If you’re looking for sporting inspiration, information or just a fun read, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to triathlon-themed books. There’s no shortage of informative and motivating paperbacks available to buy online. 

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Here at 220 Triathlon, it’s fair to say we enjoy a sports-focussed book. So, we’ve sorted the good from the bad and compiled this list of our favourite ones. Some are from the minds of leading triathletes; others offer a look at running, cycling and swimming as individual pursuits.

Here are the best triathlon books out there, as chosen by the 220 Triathlon team. 

Best triathlon books to add to your shelves in 2022

A Runner’s High by Dean Karnazes

If you’ve found triathlon late in life or you’ve been enjoying the sport for a few decades, this book could provide inspiration to keep pushing forward and reach your goals. In it, Dean Karnazes reflects on completing the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in his fifties. 

Karnazes already has a bank of impressive achievements behind him. He’s competed internationally and has even run 50 marathons in 50 states within 50 days. 

The experienced runner is also a key voice in the sporting community. Among other TV programmes, he’s appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, and has also been listed as one of TIME Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’.

Adventureman: Running America by Jamie McDonald

A real life superhero, Gloucester-based Jamie McDonald ran across America, coast to coast, to raise over £250,000 for sick children in the UK and Canada. The journey was 5,500 miles long – or 210 marathons – and he ran the entire length wearing a superhero costume. 

To top it all off, he’s also founded Superhero Foundation to support families with ill or disabled children. This is the story of McDonald’s run across the US, full of funny anecdotes and several mishaps, and you’ll be laughing out loud as he takes you on his journey. 

Becoming Brutal by Claire Smith

Despite hating sport as a young woman, Claire Smith was the first UK athlete to finish a continuous double deca iron-distance triathlon. Before the end of the 18-day race, she had to swim for 48 miles, cycle for 2,240 and run for 524. 

While this achievement would be significant for anyone, it’s particularly poignant for Smith, who overcame an eating disorder, abusive relationships and alcohol addiction earlier in life.

Limitless by Mimi Anderson

As a 55-year-old mother of three, Mimi Anderson had a goal to complete the fastest run across America, from LA to New York. It would involve a 2,850-mile journey across 12 states, but after 2,000 miles, her injuries got so bad she had to stop pushing forward. 

While coming to terms with failing in her ambition to run across the US, Anderson discovered the joys of triathlon. This book follows her as she worked through her ambitions.

The Midlife Cyclist by Phil Cavell

Cycling is becoming more popular than ever among the middle-aged population. Phil Cavell wants to find out why. Here, the respected bike fitter and designer collaborates with coaches, doctors and ex-professionals to provide an insight into why cycling is becoming more important for the older generations. 

This bestselling book has become an important guide for any middle-aged would-be cyclist who wants to get into the sport, as well as a staple for the already bike-mad among us.  

The Great North Road by Steve Silk

BBC journalist and avid cyclist Steve Silk takes the Great North Road as inspiration for his journey documented in this book. It’s been 100 years since the highway from London to Edinburgh stopped existing in 1921, and now the A1 stands where some of it used to be. 

To mark the 100-year milestone, Silk decided to cycle the entire length of the original, 400-mile road. On the way, he paused to enjoy some of the lesser-known sites between the two capital cities. He charts this and the whole 400-mile journey in The Great North Road

Downriver Nomad by Rob Hutchings

Triathlete, swimmer and all-round adventurer Rob Hutchings discusses his personal journey in this heartfelt book. With reference to his father’s alcohol addiction and his struggles to become a father himself, Hutchings takes us through his greatest achievements in the sporting world. 

We read about triathlons in Canada, marathons in Australia and swimming the dangerous 256km-long Clutha River in New Zealand, among other impressive feats. This book won’t fail to inspire you. 

Out of thin Air by Michael Crawley

Did you know six of the 10 fastest marathon times belong to Ethiopian men? Anthropologist and writer Michael Crawley wanted to find out more about the country’s relationship with running and how ambitious sportspeople improve their technique there. 

To find the answers to his questions, he travelled from Edinburgh to Ethiopia and spent 15 months training with runners. In this book, he reveals the fascinating insights he discovered. 

Finish Strong by Richard Boergers & Angelo Gingerelli

Created to help athletes – or aspiring athletes – get the most from their training, this book promotes the advantages of adding resistance and mobility exercises into your fitness regime. Behind Finish Strong are experts in the field Richard Boergers and Angelo Ginerelli. 

Read this book if you want to find out more about improving muscle strength and athletic performance while avoiding injury. It also touches on building confidence and successfully logging new personal bests. 

Ironwomen by Tiffany Jolowicz

This book charts author Tiffany Jolowicz’s mission to share the experience of finishing Ironman Switzerland. In it, she interviews dozens of female M-Dot finishers, and the end result is an at-times amusing and always inspiring collection of those who have taken on the phenomenal iron-distance challenge.

Chasing Extreme by Luke Tyburski

Aussie extreme adventurer Luke Tyburski completed a solo 2,000km triathlon from Morocco to Monaco in 2015 and Chasing Extreme is the inspiring tale of how he did it… and recovered from the major lows that followed.

Tyburski details how he overcame the clinical depression he hid from those around him and persevered to reach his goals even in his darkest moments. 

To The Finish Line by Chrissie Wellington

Chrissie Wellington is the only person to have won the World Ironman Championship less than a year after becoming a professional. In fact, she’s now won it four times. 

In this book and in a collaboration with 220 Triathlon, the Bristol-based triathlete presents the struggles and experiences she’s faced during her hard-won career. Inside, you’ll find the wisdom she’s gathered too. 

The Complete Ironman by Bob Babbitt

Widely considered the world’s biggest expert when it comes to the Ironman race, Bob Babbitt has attended every one of the Ironman World Championships since 1980. And he’s completed it six times. 

Released to coincide with the 40th birthday of Ironman, Babbitt’s latest tome celebrates the spirit of 226km racing and highlights the greatest moments, races and athletes of Ironman history. There’s plenty of practical advice for anyone who wants to improve their performance as well.

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