We’ve reviewed six of the best triathlon books on the market to see which will bring you a personal best.

Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals: And doing the duathlon too
By Steve Johas, Md foreword by Donald B.Ardell PhD (Norton) £12.99

This total beginners’ book will get you ready for your first standard-distance triathlon on three-and-a- half to five hours a week. It manages to address novices without being patronising. There’s lots of interesting race history and big names, so it captures the inspirational feel of triathlon, but bear in mind this is just a ‘get round’ plan. Training plans are based purely on time – without even
specifying what the discipline is or what the set should be, so the onus is on you to push yourself and share out training time between disciplines.


Rating: 3/5

Triathlon Training for Dummies
By Deirdre Pitney and Donna Dourney (John Wiley and Sons) £13.99

This book is aimed at nervous beginners, and if you’re anything more than an absolute beginner, it’s likely you’ll get frustrated with how slow it is. We found the cartoon illustrations a bit patronising, and the Dummies format is looking a bit dated these days. It’s American, so you’ll find prices in dollars and distances in yards. Helpful symbols make the book easy to navigate, and every topic you’d ever want to know about when you start out with tri is touched upon. Training plans are doable and simple. But we’d only recommend this for the total novice triathlete.


Rating: 1/5

The Triathlete’s Training Bible
By Joe Friel (Velo Press) £17.95

The thing that’s most special about Training Bible is that it empowers you to become you own coach, instead of dictating what you should do. We’ve read a hundred training books, and this is the one that’s shaped our coaching the most. It has everything you could
possibly need, intelligently set out so you can keep dipping in and out when you need to top up your knowledge. Friel’s taken some pretty complex subjects and delivered them in such a way that anyone can understand them. It’s not all light reading and it requires an element of dedication. But the lessons you absorb will last you a lifetime.


Rating: 5/5

Be Iron Fit: Time-efficient training secrets for ultimate fitness

By Don Fink (Lyons Press) £16.95

This book tells you how to fit Ironman training into your life. The idea is to clearly explain the principles that make IM training doable, but the tone’s a bit cheesy. There are case studies of people who have successfully juggled work, family, a social life and competitive long-distance racing, but we felt a bit ‘so what?’ about this. Training plans are concise and the tone is friendly. But the amount of info in it felt like a bit of a brain dump. To be honest, we thought it would be more time-efficient to not bother with this book and get out there training.


Rating: 2/5

Ironman Start to Finish: 24 weeks to an endurance triathlon
By Paul Huddle and Roch Frey with T.J. Murphy (Mayer and Mayer Sport) £12.95

A straight-talking , warm and authoritative training buddy is what every triathlete needs, and this book will be your new training buddy. It won’t strike the fear of God into you over what’s involved with IM. At this distance, training needs to get technical, and the authors have cut through the cr*p and cherry-picked the best info. Yes, there’s still number-crunching involved, but not in an overwhelming way. Clear plans are done by heart rate and it’s easy to tailor them to your fitness and goals. Distances are in yards, if that bothers you.


Rating: 5/5

Time-Crunched Triathlete
Written by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg (Velo Press) £14.99

This book is about training effectively on eight hours or less per week. It’s for time-poor triathletes who don’t expect anything but the best in their performance. The book is for shorter distances, but Carmichael (who coached Lance Armstrong and IM world champ Peter Reid) says you can do an IM 70.3 at a stretch. It’s cleverly thought out, based on sound sports science principles. There are good training plans up to 70.3 with very specific intensities, and many sessions have a brick element to save time. The downside is page after page of small black text, with barely a break or a picture, so it’s tiring on the eyes.


Rating: 4/5

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine – click here to subscribe

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