Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Wed, 22 Mar 2000 08:24:52 -0500

Front-Running Books

(from RC 296)

Runners are still coming into the activity for the first time, and that's good news for all who run already. They still think they can find answers in books, and that's good news for all who write them.

A letter came Barbara Phelps, who introduced herself as "a 45-year-old, in pretty good shape, who wants advice on how to get started running. Would you recommend books on the subject?"

After welcoming her to the sport and saying "you'll go much farther than you might imagine right now," I talked books with her. She could find shelves of them for beginners (and -- shameless plug -- I'll add to that count later this year with Running 101).

The one she might find most useful is The Complete Book of Running for Women --written by a former Runner's World editor, Claire Kowalchik. Amazon.com ranks books by subject, and this one is now the best-selling running title. Kathrine Switzer wrote a book with similar emphasis, called Running and Walking for Women Over 40.

Amazon.com is only one outlet, but its best-seller lineup seems to mirror the market in general. Whenever I need humbling, I check the Amazon website. It not only ranks my books against others on running but also scores them against all of Amazon's million-plus titles.

Best Runs, my latest, barely cracks the top 100 in our sport. It's 145,000th overall. It's ancestor, Better Runs, does much better at 33rd and 45,000th.

Claire Kowalchik's book for women ranks about 1400th in Amazon sales, but first in running. Four guides to training for marathons crowd the top nine.

A biography joins the front-running group of mostly how-to books. John Bingham tells his story in The Courage to Start, ranked second.

This week's leaders (not including a triathlon book, placing second but belonging in a separate category; Bill Bradley's Life on the Run also slips into our listing, though his was a different sort of running):

1. Complete Book of Running for Women, by Claire Kowalchik
2. The Courage to Start, by John Bingham
3. Four Months to a Four-Hour Marathon, by Dave Kuehls
4. The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer, by David Whitsett
5. Marathon, by Jeff Galloway
6. The Runner's Handbook, by Bob Glover
7. Heart Rate Training for the Compleat Idiot, by John Parker
8. The Competitive Runner's Handbook, by Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Glover
9. How to Train for and Run Your Best Marathon, by Gordon Bakoulis
10. Daniels' Running Formula, by Jack Daniels

Bob Glover's sixth-ranked Handbook is the most durable of these books. It has been in print, in various editions, since the 1970s.

Several classics still sell briskly. Tom Jordan's Pre stands 11th among running books, John Parker's Once a Runner, 12th, and George Sheehan's Running & Being, 14th.

To find the running rankings, copy and paste this address into your web browser:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ts/browse-books/16587/103-5864229-1829425

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