We’ve all had that slump when it’s hard to get motivated and our passion for exercise and sport seems to wane.
Want a quick, motivating way to pull yourself out of it? Read a great sporty book.
Or maybe you’re raring to go and want to surround yourself with inspiring stories, advice, and training information. Read a great sporty book!
If you’re a triathlete, you’re in luck – today we’re covering the best triathlon books for training and inspiration.
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Triathlon For Beginners by Dan Golding
The Triathlete’s Training Diary by Joe Friel
The Complete IRONMAN by Bob Babbitt
Best For Beginners
1. Triathlon For Beginners by Dan Golding
As the name of this book suggests, it’s an excellent read for those who are new to the sport of triathlon.
The author, Dan Golding, discovered triathlons in 2005 and has been obsessed with the sport ever since. This book is a compilation of the advice, tips, tricks, and knowledge that he wishes he had when he was starting out!
It’s a well-written, easy-to-read book of a good length, that covers a large variety of information without much fluff.
Now, if you’re looking for something in-depth that tells you exactly how to diet, train, and move through your race, this book isn’t it.
But if you want a quick and helpful read to alleviate new triathlete nerves and give you some inspiration, then this book is very worth the buy.
Golding provides a good overview of what you can expect when participating in your first triathlon. From there, he offers practical, helpful advice on how to deal with every aspect.
The knowledge and advice given in the book make for a great foundation for your first event. You’ll learn things like how to develop an effective training plan, how to minimize your risk of injury, how to choose the right gear, what mistakes to avoid, and how to choose the right length race for you.
Some readers have commented that the book doesn’t offer much info on transitions between triathlon legs, which is something that beginners may need advice on.
But that’s the only possible downside, although intermediate and advanced triathletes most likely won’t find anything in here that they don’t know already.
But for beginners, this book is a valuable tool.
What We Like:
- Excellent for both true beginners and those with just a few races behind them
- Includes a “jargon” section to help you understand triathlon terms
- Offers advice on both mental and physical preparation for races
- Simply written and easy to read
Top Training Journal
2. The Triathlete’s Training Diary by Joe Friel
Triathletes who wish to plan their training and record their data will find great value in a training journal, and this is the one we recommend.
Joe Friel is an internationally-renowned endurance expert, and he packs his 30+ years of experience into this training diary.
It’s an excellent companion to your training and allows you to look back at any time, jot down any information that could affect your health or training, and learn from your own data.
There’s 53 weeks’ worth of space in this journal, so whether you’re logging an entire training year or separate training sections for a few different events, you can fit plenty of info in here.
Before you even begin your training, the author offers a comprehensive guide to planning out your season in the most effective way possible. There’s also space for season goals, so you can choose what to work towards early on and gear your training towards that.
In your daily sections, there’s room to record a large range of training metrics, including the type of workout you’re doing, what the weather’s like, heart rate, power, your route, time and distance, and rest and recovery stats too.
There’s room for two workouts a day, so if you like to split your training up, you don’t need to try and fit two workouts’ worth of info into space for one.
Other very useful features of this journal include weekly summary charts, a race results summary (complete with finish times and nutrition), and a season results summary. A race day gear checklist ensures that you’re never unprepared when the big day comes.
It’s ideal for both new and experienced athletes who want to track their training and learn from their metrics.
What We Like:
- 53 weeks of undated pages
- Space for season goal setting
- Space for specific metrics
- Includes a race day gear checklist
Best For Ironman
3. The Complete IRONMAN by Bob Babbitt
If IRONMAN is your goal, then this book is essential. The author, Bob Babbitt, is considered to be the world’s best IRONMAN expert, and has completed it himself 6 times!
It’s a comprehensive account of the IRONMAN competition, from start to the present time. Babbitt discusses some of the most well-known competitors, as well as some extremely motivating participants that aspiring IRONMAN athletes may not have heard of.
The book is not just a compilation of the amazing historical events of the sport, but also offers practical advice on how to prepare to take part in the world’s most grueling endurance event.
Babbitt also offers advice on how to succeed in this extreme athletic challenge, with a unique and extremely well-rounded perspective on the race.
He manages to get the sense of excitement and anticipation that comes with every one of these endurance competitions into the pages of this book, making it the perfect addition to any IRONMAN fan’s bookshelf.
What We Like:
- Complete history of the IRONMAN competition
- Full-color illustrations
- Filled with practical advice
Top 3 Training Books
4a. To the Finish Line: A World Champion Triathlete’s Guide to Your Perfect Race by Chrissie Wellington
If you’re looking for a guide written by an extremely experienced athlete, this is it. Chrissie Wellington has won 4 IRONMAN events and is considered to be the world’s top female IRONMAN athlete.
The book is written in a refreshingly honest and humorous way, and Chrissie’s love for her sport shows.
There are dedicated sections for running, swimming, and cycling to give you the most comprehensive overview of a full triathlon.
Apart from these three sections, she also has full chapters on other aspects such as strength & nutrition, rest & recovery, goal setting, and triathlon-related psychology.
Chrissie also shares more personal information, like her thoughts and advice on being an athlete and a mom, how she uses her pre-race playlist to stay motivated, and how she carries positive mantras with her during races.
American readers may find it to be slightly difficult reading due to the British spelling and jargon. But that doesn’t take away from the quality of the book and the positivity and encouragement that shines through on every page.
What We Like:
- Guidance for new and experienced athletes
- Includes Q&As for each chapter
- Offers tips on gear
- Excellent for triathlete moms
4b. The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel
The Triathlete’s Training Bible is a must-have for experienced triathletes. It’s a supremely comprehensive guide to triathlon training for intermediate to advanced athletes who want to streamline their performance.
This is the fourth edition of the book, and it’s certainly the most extensive, covering everything you may need to know about training for and participating in triathlons.
It’s not just your average training book, though. Instead of generic training plans and rehashed inspirational info, you’ll get valuable insights into subjects such as:
- How to train at the right intensity
- How to make up for missed workouts
- Using strength training to build muscular endurance
- How to prevent overtraining
- Analyzing your progress and conflicts to adapt your training most effectively
This isn’t a step-by-step, follow-along kind of book. It is, however, a guide that’s packed with valuable information that the reader can use in their own training. But it’s up to the athlete to take the information and apply it to their own training regime.
Be aware that this book is not suitable for triathletes who are new to the sport or still getting used to the sport. It is, however, an excellent resource for experienced triathletes who are looking for a motivating, performance-improving guide.
What We Like:
- Allows for personalization in training plans
- Includes strength training program
- Helps you design your own recovery plan
4c. 80/20 Triathlon: Discover the Breakthrough by Matt Fitzgerald & David Warden
Written by an internationally renowned endurance coach and a sports writer, nutritionist, and coach, this book is loaded with science-based information to help triathletes train optimally.
The authors base this book on the premise that most athletes, from beginners to advanced, fall into a rut of training at a consistent moderate intensity. They show, with the help of research and scientific studies, that athletes can revolutionize their training and performance by training in an 80/20 fashion.
This means 80% low-intensity and 20% moderate/high-intensity training. If this sounds odd, don’t worry – the authors make a great case for it and offer advice on how to adapt your training to this style.
You’ll also get a variety of complete, specific training plans for every distance (sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman, Ironman).
It’s an excellent training resource for those who’re looking for a new way to train or something to jolt them out of a training rut!
What We Like:
- Based on scientific evidence
- Suitable for all levels of athlete
- Detailed training plans for all distances
Best Strength Program
5. Strength Training for Triathletes by Patrick S. Hagerman
Want to build strength and muscle to help you perform more powerfully in your competitions? This book is a must-read for triathletes who gym or want to start gymming to build strength.
As the book cover mentions, many triathletes neglect strength training in favor of the big three triathlon legs. While working on your running, swimming, and cycling is obviously essential to triathlon success, neglecting certain muscle groups can lead to muscle imbalances, which can negatively affect performance.
This book offers an overview of each of the three triathlon sports and provides both upper and lower body exercises for each. Things like the number of reps, number of sets, weight, and rest time are also covered.
Once all three disciplines have been covered, there’s a comprehensive guidance section on how to put together your own strength training program to cater to your particular needs or goals.
If you find yourself traveling a lot, there’s also a guide to creating workouts for traveling that use minimal equipment.
Triathletes who wish to gain strength and power and counteract muscle imbalances would benefit immensely from this book.
What We Like:
- Guides triathletes to creating a personalized training plan
- Workout advice for home and travel, with minimal equipment
- Fully illustrated exercises
Top Ironman Stories
6. You Are an Ironman by Jacques Steinberg
This isn’t a training book, but it’s a compelling look into the lives of Ironman athletes, both professional and recreational.
The author delves into the Ironman lifestyle, from preparation for the grueling event to the amazing feats of endurance the competitors display.
But it’s not only the physical side of this spectacular event that he explores. Steinberg interviews and monitors a group of Ford Ironman Arizona 2009 participants, examining the emotional and physiological effects of this legendary endurance race.
This book is loaded with fascinating real-life stories about real people. Not all of them are professionals, either! Some of these participants are full-time parents, work full-time jobs, and have lives of which Ironman is only a hobby.
You won’t get a lot of solid training advice from this read, but you will be inspired to do better in your next race. You may even be motivated to complete an Ironman event yourself!
What We Like:
- Real-life athlete stories
- Inspirational and motivating
- Great read for all levels of triathletes
7. A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington
If real-life stories are the kind of thing that inspires you, you won’t get more motivating than this.
The world’s top female Ironman athlete may look unassuming and very smiley, but she’s an elite athlete who blew the triathlon world away when she won the Ironman World Championship within a year of turning pro – the first-ever athlete to do so.
She’s since won four Ironman events, officially retiring in 2012 but continuing to take part in events like ultra-marathons, long-distance cycling events, and even cross-country skiing competitions!
The beauty of this biographical book is that it’s not all sunshine and roses. Wellington talks about the tough times too, from fighting anorexia to dealing with difficult coaches, and how they affected her performance.
She’s not afraid to discuss her own weakness as well as her strengths, which gives this story a real and refreshing appeal. You’ll also gain some insight into her training, diet, and how she stays motivated for events.
It’s a fascinating account of an exceptional athlete’s life and love of her sport. Wellington’s desire to use sports to change and improve lives is apparent throughout the book. Well worth a read!
What We Like:
- Written by the world’s top female Ironman athlete
- Motivating and inspirational story
- Well-written in a fresh and unassuming style
Top Inspirational Story
8. Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship That Went the Distance by Susan Lac
Everyone (even the most accomplished athlete) needs a good mix of comic relief and inspiration sometimes.
This book will have you in fits of laughter, nodding your head at familiar feelings, and bawling your eyes out at heartbreaking moments. Don’t let that put you off, though!
It’s an excellent and quick read, filled with relatable scenarios. When you’re reading, it feels like you’re having a conversation with a close friend.
You won’t get a ton of training info or actionable advice from this story. But you will get a dose of inspiration and a hankering to get off the couch and do something!
Interestingly, the author doesn’t mention at all that she’s deaf. Reading the book with that in mind may offer an even more inspirational experience.
Don’t let the profanity in the title and description deter you from giving this a read. It’s a heart-wrenching and heartwarming story that reminds us of the value of both our beloved sport and our closest friends.
What We Like:
- Humorous and lighthearted
- Motivating story