Summer feels GREAT. Longer days, warmer nights, and okay — you may need to run very early or very late to beat the heat. BUT, who doesn’t love to see those fireflies as you make your way around your route on a twilight run? And don’t forget vacation — and a book to read by the beach or pool.
We asked some of our Novant Health Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors for what they’re reading this summer. Answers range from pure fun reads to motivational memoirs. Maybe you’ll like them too! There’s still time to find them before summer winds down —
Ambassador Judy Caswell’s story is inspiring enough — she picked up running in her 40’s, was racking up the PR’s, beating her college-age son at marathons, and BAM! Cancer. It’s enough to change anyone’s life, but Judy kept on truckin’. So what is she reading?
“I LOVE books about running but especially the mind/body piece,” says Caswell. She’s reading two books about the mind-body connection through running. A Runner’s High by ultramarathon legend Dean Karnazes follows his many adventures as he trains for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. The race is demanding, even for a man who once ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. As any ultramarathoner will tell you, physical fitness alone is not enough for a race like this.
Caswell’s second book is Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance by Alex Hutchinson. Cutting-edge science is the star in the book as the “Sweat Science” author explores pushing the limits of mind and body — and how one controls the other. The Cambridge-trained physicist and distance runner even dives into a top-secret Nike project to break the 2-hour marathon barrier.
The psychology of the mind-body connection rings true for Caswell.
“I am a very strong believer in both: the power of your mind/attitude and exercise (for me running), and I really do think that’s what made me do so well and was able to continue to train and run all during my cancer treatments,” she says. Running is meditation to Caswell, who is grateful her mind and body held up as well as it did through surgeries and chemotherapy. She says she feels more confident than ever. “I like challenging myself, and don’t feel like I’m aging, but actually getting better.”
Need a little push when that last hill gets hard? Ambassador Casey Cline has a few ideas for you, from her favorites. If you’re ready to run through a wall, or just get that PR, check out Casey’s list.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is an incredible start for days you feel like the world is working against you. Goggins grew up in poverty, in an abusive home, to become the only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller. From there, he moved on to being an endurance athlete. This book is all about mindset, says Cline. “If you think you have limits, David Goggins will remind you that those limits only exist in our imagination,” she says.
In Braving the Wilderness by social scientist Brene Brown, she guides us through times when we seek to be a part of something, but need to know when to stand alone. “True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are,” says Brown. Cline relates that the journey is worth taking. “Brene challenges us to embrace our struggles,” says Cline; (to) “get uncomfortable in the wilderness and find our way back to our true self.”
Cline is also reading Caswell’s choice, Endure, by Alex Hutchinson. It adds science to the emotion of pushing human limits.
Ambassador Lindsay McClelland, a former collegiate swimmer, embraced the story told by Alexi Pappas in Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas. Pappas is a woman whose early childhood was marred by her mother’s suicide and grew up wanting to be great at not just one thing, but many things. She looked to female athletes as role models, but still wanted to express her creative side by making movies, writing, and acting. This is a book for anyone who experiences the rollercoaster of not wanting to stay in one lane.
“Alexi first captured my attention because she’s an incredible athlete and Olympian, but after reading the book I learned so much more about her story,” says McClelland. “She’s an incredible writer and storyteller, and her position on mental health awareness is so important!”
In the book, distance runner Pappas chronicles the struggle of post-Olympic depression that is now getting so much attention. “It really is a must-read, especially for female runners,” says McClelland.
“If you’re looking for a comical view of the ups and downs of running, I recommend The Incomplete Book of Running by Peter Sagal,” suggests Mandy Carter. Carter has visited the Running Around Charlotte podcast before — she calls herself an “average runner” who started running later in life; and juggles jobs, her law degree, and 2 kids, while finding time to talk up the life of a runner. You know mental toughness and humor are in her toolbox!
Peter Sagal, the longtime columnist for Runner’s World, started running seriously just before turning 40 (that time of life moves a lot of us!), and completed 14 marathon finishes during the next decade — including the Boston Marathon in 2013, moments before a bomb exploded near the finish. Running and a sense of humor, both, helped keep him in survival mode as he faced a personal crisis.
“The Incomplete Book of Running provides a comical and relatable narrative about a regular person’s journey to find himself on the pavement,” says Carter. “The book takes you on a journey of the love/hate relationship we all have likely experienced with the sport. But, through it all, the book reminds us that running is the companion that is there on the good days and bad.” A light heart makes lighter feet, we say!
JUST FOR FUN
For pure fiction, Meg Taylor likes the historical kind. “I am always reading!” she exclaims when asked about her reading list. Three fascinating, but fictional, titles make up her reading list.
“I just wrapped up The Rose Code by Kate Quinn,” says Taylor. “I love historical fiction, and Quinn’s newest book is right up my alley.” The book follows three women codebreakers through World War II England as they team up to decode encrypted messages of the German forces. The tense situation splinters the relationship, but a mysterious letter pulls them back together for one more mission after the war.
Taylor calls Layla by Colleen Hoover a “fast thriller.” A love triangle consumes this book, focused on a sudden, mysterious illness, and a lesson about enduring love. “I did save (this) for the beach since it’s a lighter read,” Taylor admits. That’s okay, Meg, sometimes we need to get away — mentally AND physically.
Taylor’s third book, which she says she is “looking forward to,” is One, Two, Three by Laurie Frankel, which just came out this month. The mystery is told from the points of view of three triplets whose mother’s fight for justice has gone on their whole lives. In a small town where nothing seems to change, new residents shake things up by revealing old secrets.
Ready to read? Refresh your library card or google the best deals with two-day delivery. Here are 9 good reasons to put down your phone and get motivated, inspired, or entertained! Happy reading!