Panther Gift Guide: Two for one

Since we missed yesterday, let’s go for a two in one with today’s post. As I mentioned before, runners are a bear to buy for (and I’m not just talking about Oso). We tend to not need a lot, and those things we need/want are things we probably already got ourselves.

Still, all hope is not lost. There’s definitely gifts out there that aren’t super lame (gift card to Target? NICE) but that you can be pretty sure your running buddy doesn’t have.

What? Training? Sure. There’s a number of fantastic online training programs out there. Now, if your buddy has a coach already, or is in a training program, this might not be the thing. But a whole lot of runners are just out there without a ton of focus. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it leads to over-training, burnout or even injury. A coach, even a virtual online coach, can be a very powerful and rewarding asset.

Alright! Who do you choose? Well, I might be biased here, but my money is on the man with the plan, Born to Run’s one and only Eric Orton. Dude is real. 100% pure military grade genuine badass with a track record (no pun intended) of success. I’ve met the man, he’s like Yoda except taller, less green and probably able to run a 100 miler WAY faster (force powers notwithstanding, little guy’s legs would be churning if he tried to pull off WS). Run in place, you will.

Every plan is different, every runner is different, but Eric has a number of programs (including very personalized one-on-one style programs) to help any runner become fit, strong and fast at all distances. He turned perpetually injured giant bear of a guy Chris McDougall into an ultra runner, he can help your buddy take that next step on his or her journey.

You can also help out by signing a friend up with a running program in their town. Most (if not all) running shops have training programs for various distances. In my town there’s Fleet Feet, in the SF Bay Area there’s Zombie Runner. If your friend has talked about wanting to move to the 1/2 marathon distance from 10ks, there’s a program for that. Search your town for small running shops and check their website.

OK! So that’s the first of our two for one. What’s next? Books.

Erm, books you say? Yep. All runners at some point have to stop and chill. Whether for rest, or sleep or vacation or sitting at the DMV. Point is, sometimes we just want to curl up with a good book. And because we’re borderline insane about running (admit it) we will often read about running when we’re not running. I know, right?

So here’s a few books about running that I’ve basically read so much the pages would have fallen out, had I not had the foresight to buy them as Kindle books.

Born to Run
The classic. The one. Ask any runner out there about this book and, more than likely, you’ll get one of two reactions. Either they’ll tell you that B2R changed their life, or they’ll roll their eyes and sigh, possibly walking away. Yes, it is the Harry Potter of running books, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. To this day, 2 years after first devouring it, I still reread it. It isn’t a manual for running (no matter what the bare-footers say), it is a door into the world of spinning the earth under your feet. Focus on the story, learn about the world’s most incredible runners. And remember, it is about the form, not the shoe. Full review here.

Ultra Marathon Man
What can I say about Dean, he’s quite an individual. Driven. Relentless. Focused. And fueled towards the horizon by the tragic death of his teenage sister. This book is a great read, wonderfully entertaining and detailed, with laugh out loud moments and cringe-worthy stuff mixed in. Dean is almost embarrassingly candid and open, and his story is another that has great re-read value. Keep in mind though that he’s unique in his ability to withstand pain, so don’t go out and run Western States without support and expect to get the silver buckle like he did. But do read the book. Full review here.

Eat & Run
Scott Jurek is one of history’s best ultra runners. He is unbelievably gifted, kind and generous. He runs incredible distances on a purely vegan diet, and this book is an autobiography/recipe book of sorts. There’s painful parts, as always, but perhaps even more so if you ever meet the man and realize his empathy. Life wasn’t always kind to him and to his family, but he’s risen above it and dedicated his life to doing what he can to improve the world. It is inspiring, and so is this book. Full review here.

The Cool Impossible
What, Eric Orton again? You bet your tempo run. Coach Orton wrote a book, and unlike the others here, this is no day at Disneyland. There’s a story in there, but the meat of the book is his training advice and workouts. Huge note here: buy slant-boards. Yes I know how much the level 1 pack costs. It is so amazingly worth every last freaking penny. Without the boards the book is still valuable, but combined with the level 1 pack, you can almost skip over the online training program I suggested up top. Almost. Tell you what, do both. Full review here.


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