Triathlon is a complex sport with many moving parts to it. Three highly technical sports have been lumped into one format that test the extreme limits of human endurance. One of the prerequisites of doing well in triathlon – or even being able to complete it – is to build up mental toughness.
You also have to stay on top of your nutritional requirements. This is a sport where you will require a tremendous amount of energy to make it through the finish line. It takes a lot of awareness and education to improve your performance metrics.
The best athletes in the business often hire coaches who are always reading peer-reviewed studies and experimental techniques to improve endurance and performance.
An amateur won’t always need access to such in-depth research and analytics, but there are several triathlon books that can keep you inspired and informed.
In a Hurry? Here are Our Top Choices
The 5 Best Triathlon Books
We rounded up 5 of the best triathlon books that all triathletes should read whenever they get the chance.
1. The Complete IRONMAN
Bob Babbitt has a long history with triathlons and got started in the late 1970s – that’s over 4 decades of information distilled into a single book. He used his experience and finesse with the sport to create several media outlets that focus on endurance.
The book discusses the history of Ironman and provides the reader with in-depth information on how they can succeed. It’s full of colorful illustrations too so you won’t get bored with technical jargon – of which there isn’t much.
The book uses beginner-friendly language that simplifies concepts without needlessly dragging technical words into the picture. The Complete IRONMAN makes for the perfect casual read and leaves you enlightened and inspired.
- Access to valuable information at your fingertips
- High-quality illustrations
- Some of the information, especially nutritional advice, needs an update to reflect 2021
2. To the Finish Line: A World Champion Triathlete’s Guide to Your Perfect Race
Most triathletes will have heard about Chrissie Wellington. She is a four-time Ironman World Champion who has plenty of experience under her seatbelt to help aspiring triathletes. Chrissie covers various topics in her book, To the Finish Line, ranging from nutrition advice to fitness exercises, all in a reader-friendly way.
This is an enjoyable read from start to finish. If you want to find information related to specifics, you can refer to the table of contents and jump straight to the meat of the matter. Want nutritionaladvise? Turn to page 196. Looking for tips on how to choose a wetsuit? Try page 98.
You will also find photos of Dave Scott, one of Chrissie’s advisors and six-time Ironman World Champion showing you photos of how to improve strength and fitness goals.
- Enjoyable read from start to finish
- High-quality photos for demonstration purposes
- The nutrition advice works specifically for Chrissie and may not work for everyone
3. Iron Cowboy: Redefine Impossible
This book covers the personal journey of James Lawrence, one of the stalwarts of the sport. It documents his impressive 50-50-50 journey – 50 full-fledged triathlons in consecutive states across 5 states.
This kind of commitment and steely resolve can only come from someone who lives and breathes the sport. It’s the pinnacle of human endurance itself. Is it genetics? Is it nutrition? Or is it years of experience? This book distills the information into bite-sized pieces so you can make up your mind.
- An engaging and inspiring journey that covers the ups and downs of the 50-50-50 challenge
- The book may be too sensationalized and less informative for readers who only want core tips
4. Becoming a Supple Leopard
Kelly Starrettis one of the leading authorities in the niche of self-care for athletes and will provide you with tips to become ‘injury-proof’ when participating in triathlons.
The book provides a proper system and structure for you to follow. It starts off with the basics and emphasizes the importance of having good posture while standing and sitting. Kelly wastes no time in giving you actionable advice on how to condition your body for ironman. He takes you through a comprehensive strategy on how to level your pelvis, retain a neutral spine throughout movements in all areas of your life – whether you’re at the gym or just slouching off at home.
- Extremely detailed information with actionable advise
- Concepts are illustrated with high-quality photos
- Gives you a basic overview before introducing you to advanced concepts such as metabolic stress and speed
- Doesn’t provide a systematic program for trainers
- Takes a more one-size-fits-all approach with advice
5. Strength Training for Triathletes
This book is arguably one of the best triathlon books on strength training. It delivers specific information related to weight lifting for athletes who want to improve their performance in IRONMAN. The book is organized by muscle and sport group, covering well over 75 exercises that specifically target muscles involved in running, biking, and swimming.
Readers will also appreciate seasonal plans that cover various triathlon distances, as well as guidance on adapting training plans for individual needs.
This book is ideal for anyone who wants to cover their basics and provides a solid foundation to help you achieve your goals – whatever they may be.
- Easy read
- Great illustrations
- In-depth sample training programs for all distances
- Doesn’t go into detail related to advanced training and energy systems
Our Final Thoughts
If you’re just getting started and need a no-nonsense guide on improving performance and minimizing injuries, then go for “Becoming a Supple Lizard”. Readers who don’t get much free time will appreciate how quickly Kelly cuts to the chase and provides them with actionable advice and uses pictures to drive the point home.
If you need something to inspire you and motivate you, then go “Iron Cowboy: Redefine Impossible” – a must-have for anyone who is looking to get started. The book is a bit sensational – but balances everything out by providing the reader with useful information and actionable advice
And if you can find the time, we recommend going through all of the books at least once.