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Good Stocking Stuffers

Published December 21, 1998, in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

December is back. Christmas is in the air. Shoppers crowd the malls. However, it is another season of frustration for anyone looking for that elusive running gift. As you can imagine, it is hard to shop for a runner. Fortunately, 1998 has been a banner year for running books that make good stocking stuffers.

Joe Henderson's "Best Runs: Lessons and Insights for Optimal Motivation, Training and Racing" (Human Kinetics, paperback, $15.95) is a collection of one hundred essays divided in three parts: Best Ways, Best Days and Best Years. Henderson believes that running is about much more than going faster and farther. It is about having your best possible experience each and every time you go out. In Best Ways, he writes about running, nutrition and shoes. In Best Days, he writes about training and racing. In Best Years, he philosophically examines the legacy of running.

Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas's "Road Racing for Serious Runners: Multispeed Racing 5K to Marathon" (Human Kinetics, paperback, $16.95) is the newest book intended for the serious racer. It starts with a section on the physiology of running, examines oxygen transport and energy conversion. The main part of the book develops detailed schedules for 5K, 8-10K, 15K-half marathon, and the Marathon. The book concludes with a section on cross-country racing.

The Marathon continues to inspire runners and writers alike. Pamela Cooper's "American Marathon" (Syracuse University Press, hardcover, $29.95) looks at the history of the American Marathon. Cooper follows the evolution of the Marathon from small lonely endeavors to today's large city marathons. She also provides a historical perspective on the corresponding evolution of the New York Road Runners' Club and the Road Runners' Club of America, and profiles the men and races at the foundation distance running.

Gail Waesche Kislevitz's "First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster" (Breakaway Books, hardcover, $20) recalls the stories of the first marathon of thirty-seven people, "famous or not, young or old, fast or slow". They include Ted Corbitt, Sister Marion Irvine, John J. Kelley, Kislevitz, Bill Rodgers, Dick Traum, and Grete Waitz. The book ends with advice on running a first marathon and favorite songs to run by (Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Rogers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things").

In "26 Miles to Boston: the Boston Marathon Experience from Hopkinton to Copley Square" (Parmassus Imprints, Hardcover, $29.95), Michael Connelly takes the reader over the course mile-by-mile. One chapter for each mile documents the sounds, sights and drama that the runners experience. The book also includes a brief history of the race and many maps and pictures.

Dave Kuehls "4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon: Everything a Runner Needs to Know about Gear, Diet, Training, Pace, Mindset, Burnout, Shoes, Fluids, Schedules, Goals, Raceday" (Perigee Book, paperback, $12) targets the four-hour barrier for which many runners strive. The book contains day-to-day schedules and common sense training advice. It concludes with information on the fastest 36 Marathons in North America.

Q: When is a book not-a-book, and a training log not-a-training log? A: When it is John "The Penguin" Bingham's "The Penguin Brigade Training Log" (Breakaway Books, paperback, $12.95). Author of the Penguin Chronicles, Bingham believes that "The miracle isn't that I finished The Miracle is that I had the courage to start." In this log, he documents the origins of the story of the penguin, and provides an undated logbook that can be used in any year. Each week occupies the two sides of a sheet, with a picture, advice or inspirational quote. The log ends with chapters on "You Might be a Penguin if", Penguin Testimonials, Especially for Women, Colonels of Wisdom, and Binham's trademark "Waddle On Friends!"

When you finish reading your Christmas gift, you can share it as a donation to the Ed Stabler Syracuse Chargers National Distance Running Collection at Syracuse University Library, and help preserve the heritage of distance running.

Kamal Jabbour is a Trustee of the Ed Stabler Syracuse Chargers National Distance Running Library. Donations may be sent to him at 121 Link Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY 13244. The holdings of the Running Collection are available at

Jabbour's RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at

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