Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise around the world and through the pandemic, with pools and gyms closed, it kept many of us sane.
Over 2020 there were almost 1 million downloads of the Couch to 5k app in the UK and the number of regular runners, running at least once a week, rose to 6 million.
If you're tempted to join in, or you are looking for guidance or inspiration, these five books are sure to get you up and running. We are giving away a copy of each book - visit any of the book pages below and find ways to enter.
In 2016 Elise became the youngest person, and first woman, to run around the coast of Britain. She had no experience of ultra-running but felt drawn to the challenge as an antidote to the stresses and anxieties of modern life. With a twist on the classic travel book, Coasting tells the story of her adventure and wonderfully captures the beauty and the wild nature of our coastline.
If you're considering the full 26.2 miles, this has all the essential technical advice and insider knowledge to help you succeed in your marathon quest. Author and runner, Vassos, thinks he "can pretty much guarantee that everybody has a marathon in them. It’s not easy – I’m not saying everyone’s got an easy marathon in them – but the fact of it being difficult is sort of the point. It’s such a lovely and iconic challenge. There are almost no exceptions. If you can get yourself round a parkrun – run, jog or walk 3 miles – then you can, with some training, attempt and finish a marathon. Just start slowly - walk-running is fine, it’s a thing! - and gradually increase the mileage starting and ending at your own front door."
Fell and trail running are increasingly popular with runners tempted away from pounding the pavement by majestic mountains, forests and rugged cliff paths. The Pennine Way is one of the world's greatest fell running challenges; in July 2020 Damian Hall broke the record for running the length - all 268 miles of it - in just over two days and 17 hours. In It For the Long Run charts the preparation and realisation of this awesome attempt, and gives an insight into the crazy world of ultramarathon. Damian used his record attempt to highlight environmental issues: his attempt was carbon negative, he used no plastics, and he and his pacing runners collected litter as they went, while also raising money for Greenpeace.
If you are looking for inspiration then take it from Mimi Anderson who only started running at the age of 36 - “because I wanted to have slimmer and more toned legs”. She is now one of the world's most accomplished long distanced runners, with numerous records to her name. Mimi also acknowledges the theraputic effects of ultra-running, that her "mental strength has become stronger over the years of running around the world" and she shares this passion and experience in Limitless.
An absence of organised running races over 2020, due to Covid cancellations, sent runners searching for alternative challenges. Breaking long distance running records became a popular pursuit, their efforts recorded by Ally Beaven, a record-holding fell runner himself. Broken is the story of the summer of 2020, a historic time for running in the UK, with ten different record breaking stories evocatively imagined. It's also a great source for exploring the best running locations around the UK.
Publisher, Vertebrate is currently offering 20% off Broken 2020 and free UK postage - visit the book page to buy.