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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

Chris's Top 10 Training Books

Breaking Impossible is listing our Top 10 inspirational books.

Here’s why I put those books on my list!

Of course, these are not my Top 10 books "of all time." Instead, they are the ones I turn to for motivation, inspiration and methodologies for training. In fact, they’re not even in a “top” format. I suggest this order to get started and keep going - not a listing of most fave to least!

  1. Tiny Habits: Small Changes that Change Everything by B.J. Fogg

  2. Smarter, Faster, Better: The The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

  3. Homo Ludens: The Study of the Play Element in Culture by Johan Huizinga

  4. Play Anything by Ian Bogost

  5. Indistractable by Nir Eyal

  6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth

  7. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

  8. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

  9. Myths to Live By, by Joseph Campbell

  10. Training Essentials for Ultra Running by Jason Koop

To Adventure! (That's Mt. Tai Mo, it is!)

When considering how to run 185 miles (298km), the typical first reaction is “holy moly! That’s a lot of distance!” Yes, yes it is. Happily it’s true what they say: take it one step at a time. That goes for your training as well as your sorties.

To build up to big distances, you have to make big changes. But making big changes is daunting and we often stumble over those seemingly impossible daunts. Thankfully, we humans have ways of building from the small, letting it accumulate and break through those impossibilities.

How? Check out both “Tiny Habits” and “Smarter, Faster, Better” to get started. Both offer simple methods for understanding the misconceptions of our daily routines - especially the ones that get in our way of Big Goals.

Yep - The Mac has a lot of stairs, all right.

Is that enough? Not for me, it wasn’t. Even with better tuning of habits, I find myself getting bored and lacking in motivation. I turn to the play and adventure aspects. Getting out can seem like so much more fun than just “going for a run.” It’s a photo safari, and exploration of my environs, the weather and yes, even myself. “Homo Ludens” explains the value of play over all, and “Play Anything” shows how to create creativity and play in everyday…everything.

Even so, it’s easy to get side tracked. It’s a big, long-term pursuit and there are lots of things, and plenty of time for intrusions. How can you stay focused and keep moving forward? “Indistractable” is full of practical advice on managing our hectic digital lives and “Grit” examines how we can build a perseverance “muscle”. Unsurprisingly all the above build on each other.

Did I mention it’s a long haul?! Not just the runs themselves, but all the attempts. Michael and I have been at this for nearly five years! Why mention it? Because along the way you look at all those decisions you’ve made, those habits you’ve tried to form and think: did I do that right? “Thinking in Bets” sheds light into playfully serious decision making, and offers ways to construct good bets - on yourself, and the world. “Predictably Irrational” adds expert exploration of the relationship between behaviors and values (a.k.a. economics). Together, these both help us ensure we’re not fooling ourselves!

That’s cool - is that it? Well, no. All the above benefit from an even bigger context. “Myths to Live By” explores the metaphysical world we carry with us, how to explore it and create our own myths through our practices. Haven’t yet found a bigger context than that!

"Short distance workout? Boy is my watch going to be surprised!"

Speaking of practice, we finally get to “Training Essentials.” Koops efforts in breaking down the body’s processes and suggesting specific workouts that build on each other is priceless. The inspiration of reading the struggles of many of his proteges keeps it grounded, and relatable.

All in all, these always make me want to get back to training.

We’ll see you out there!

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