What do you get a runner for Christmas?   You can cop out and just get a voucher so that you don’t have to think too hard.   On the other hand you can never go wrong with a top – T Shirt, sweat shirt water proof are all always acceptable and you don’t have to know an exact size either.   I have known quite a few runners who have been given a subscription to an athletics or running magazine: a year of ‘Athletics Weekly’ keeps the recipient up to date and then there is ‘Runners World’ which is an American production but centred on the road and ultra runner, although one who had been given it as a gift remarked at the end of the year that you can get punch drunk after 12 months of it.  

Books are always acceptable.   An under rated one, and one which covers the history of Scottish athletics is “The Past is a Foreign Country” by Arnold Black and Colin Shields.   It articles on has no fewer than 100 separate athlete profiles, long articles on 12 athletes or groups of athletes (eg Tom McKean, Liz McColgan & Yvonne Murray, Ian Stewart, Lachie Stewart & Ian McCafferty) .   Available from Amazon on Kindle for only £2:99.    A very readable one is Alistair Blamire’s book “The Green Machine” which tells of the great Edinburgh University team of the 1960s – Fergus Murray, Ian Young, the Wight brothers and the rest.   Available in quick time from Amazon for £9:65.   If you want to go back a bit, There’s Jim Alder’s Marathon and Chips which is available from time to time, more available on ebay that Amazon but a very good book and an easy read.   A more recent biography is Don Macgregor’s “Runing My Life”   he had the title and the book sold in the shops before Seb Coe used the same title for his own book which is now more easily available than Don’s.  

Then there are the training manuals for athletes of all ages, including younger athletes.   Books like the very highly recommended High Performance Sprinting by Mike Smith who coached Roger Black, Todd Bennett and Kris Akabusi among others.   It’s on Amazon for less than £5.

 Description:  Speed, and how it can be increased, is of prime importance in all sport and, in its purest athletic form, speed is synonymous with sprinting. In this clearly written, well-illustrated and comprehensive book, the author offers practical advice on the many crucial factors that need to be taken into account in order to maximise the sprinter’s performance. Consideration is given to the development of detailed training programmes involving both the lightning pace of the 100m and 200m and the more controlled pace of the 400m. This authoritative book covers: – Technical development through skills and drills – The importance of the start and the finish – Training programmes and the training year – Strength and flexibility work – The relays – Preparing for competitions – The role of the coach

Dave Sunderland’s book on ‘High Performance Middle Distance Running’ is a good all round approach to the middle distance events.   Again available from Amazon for less than a tenner.

Or why not give the runner in your life a dedicated training log?   But there are loads of good athletics books out there – look around, ask others what they like and what you see/hear.