Ask A Gear Guru: What Are The Best Triathlon Books?

Since you can only do so many hip-stabilizer workouts in a quarantined day, now’s a great time to crack open a good triathlon book.

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As we spend more time at home during this current situation, and as our tolerance for terrible Netflix movies grows upsettingly strong, now’s the best time to sit down and read about the sport we love—even if we can’t be out doing it fully. For me, I’ve got books on the brain because I recently published my first book (shameless self-promotion in 3…2…1): The Triathlete Guide to Sprint and Olympic Triathlon Racing. Yes, it’s a mouthful of a title, but I’m definitely proud of the work that Olympian and coach Ryan Bolton and I put into it—check it out if you’re a beginner or an experienced triathlete looking to race short and fast!

With that out of the way, back to the books. Whether you’re looking to hit the reset button and finally go with a solid plan from a trusted source for your next race or you need a little tri-related pick-me-up, we’ve got some book-buying advice and a list of the best triathlon books for your quarantine (or regular) life.

Why Do I Need A Book For A Training Plan?

With the recent invention of the internet, it may seem like anyone who chooses the self-coached lifestyle can simply cobble together a plan from what’s online. While that’s true, the inverse is also a fact of life: Basically anyone can post a training plan online, regardless of experience or credentials. That’s not to say you need to be a Level 40 coach to create a good training plan, but anything published in a physical book has at least gone through a very formal vetting process before hitting the shelves. You’d be surprised how many training plans online are either poorly constructed or (more likely) missing a lot of important information that you’d need to be successful. Nine out of 10 times, the best published triathlon books will have more than just the plan and the workout, but also the other supplemental stuff that’s absolutely critical to having a good race/season.

Triathlete Has So Much Excellent Content, Why Would I Need A Book?

You’re absolutely right. 

No, while short, digestible stories are great for the fast pace of the world we once lived in, there’s something to be said for really digging into a long piece of work. Whether it’s a motivational book that helps gets you pumped up to train, a book about someone overcoming the odds that helps get you through our current situation, or a book about the science behind training, if you really want to come out from quarantine Better Than Ever Before, really spending time on a topic is the way to do it. While, yes, you’re right Triathlete does have amazing content, now is the time to dive in and exercise your imagination a little bit (remember that thing?).

Should I Get An E-Book Or A Physical Book?

Everyone’s different, but for me, having a physical copy of a book makes me more likely to read it from beginning to end. And it looks good on the bookshelf. In all seriousness, e-books are probably a great way to read when you’re on the go or traveling, but physical books generally induce more actual reading, and they’re a great thing to pass along to a friend when you’re done—so then you can both talk about what you read the next time you virtually meet on Zoom!

Without further ado, let’s look at a few of the best triathlon books:

The Best Triathlon Book For Completists

The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel

Best Triathlon Books

This is a no-brainer. There’s a good chance that at least half of the triathletes on the starting line of any given race got their start with Joe Friel’s popular book. This thing has literally everything you’d ever need to know about the sport of triathlon: from mental strategies to nutrition to planning a season, and (way) more. While some books may dig into certain topics more or use a more specific training methodology, this is the book for completists looking for everything under the tri sun.

The Best Triathlon Book For Time-Crunched Long-Course Training

Fast-Track Triathlete by Matt Dixon

Best Triathlon Books

Renowned coach Matt Dixon takes a very specific approach to long-course training by trying to squeeze as much as possible out of a limited amount of time. While some books may make you faster at long-course tri, this book will get you there on the least amount of training hours. That said, Dixon claims that with the help of this book, an athlete can PR even on 10 hours/week of training—which is CRAZY low compared to the usual long-course prescription. 

The Best Triathlon Book For Open-Water Swimming

Triathlon Swimming by Gerry Rodrigues
$27, pre-order at

Based out of Los Angeles, coach Gerry Rodrigues was one of the first swim coaches to specifically teach open-water swimming to triathletes with his Tower 26 program. A long list of pro triathletes have gone through his squad—from terrible runners-turned-swimmers to athletes who were already accomplished pool swimmers—and have come out the other end far faster in the open water. There is probably no swim coach more experienced with the intricacies of triathlon swimming than Rodrigues.

Best Triathlon Book For Inspiration

Beyond The Finish by Brent and Kyle Pease

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, Kyle Pease’s condition prevented him from competing in the sports that he loved to spectate, but with the help of his brother Brent, he’s been able to participate in triathlon. From their beginnings at local races and outdoor adventures all of the way to Kona, their shared experiences are a great testament to the power of sport and to the familial ties that bind—something we might all need to remember when we’re at home together. 

Best Triathlon Book For Family Nutrition

Feed Zone Table by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim

A part of the very popular “Feed Zone” series that has chef Biju Thomas and sports physiologist Allen Lim tackle nutrition in a very wholesome and unique way. Given that families are spending more time than ever together (for better and for worse), this book presents a collection of recipes and information boasting about how family-style eating is not only healthy physically, but also mentally.

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