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Page Turners

  • Posted on
  • By Whitney Morris-Reed
  • 0
Page Turners

5 books we love that will inspire you to get in touch with your inner athlete
- and get active!

Inspiration over motivation. That’s something I saw in an Instagram reel recently. As corny as it sounds, the point of the video was to impart the wisdom in the fact that motivation comes from outside ourselves, while inspiration comes from within. The speaker made it a point to tell her audience, a group of young athletes, that she wanted them to find the inspiration to pursue their passions rather than the motivation. They needed to find their WHY. And the speech has stuck with me, because the older you get the harder it can be to feel the magic of inspiration that seems to come so easily to young. Not that I’m trying to age myself or anything…but I’ve been there. We all have.


Reading a good book has always been a way for me to find sources of inspiration when I can’t seem to find it anywhere else. Some of the best books I’ve ever read are ones written by athletes and coaches. They impart wisdom from a perspective few of us ever get to view the world from – the top of the game – and it does tend to drum up a few great reasons to get moving. So, here are a few I’d like to recommend for sources of inspiration and stories of wit, wonder and whimsy…Or just badass athletic achievement. Whatever floats your boat.



  • Awaken the Olympian Within, by various contributors. When I was young, Rowdy Gaines used to come to Huntsville pretty frequently to give swim clinics to kids on the Space City Swimming team. He was friends with my coach, Tim Norris, and did them as a favor to him. On one of those occasions, he brought copies to give away or sell (I can’t remember) of a book he’d contributed to by former Olympians detailing their Olympic stories. I have read this chapter hundreds of times and referenced it hundreds more. It was a part of my welcome speech to the King College freshmen class in 2009 and I used it when teaching swimmers how to have a better start in a clinic in Auburn in 2017. And I read it in 1999. Still have it. Showed it to Rowdy at Auburn swim camp in 2005. It is one of my most prized possessions. And not because it’s signed and not for just that chapter. 10/10 would recommend athletes young and old, current or former, read it cover to cover.

  • Hard Pivot, by Apollo Ohno. Despite being the owner of a swim and running store – a decidedly SUMMER Olympic store – my favorite of the two Olympic seasons is the winter…Don’t tell anyone. The years of Apollo Aton Ohno’s domination of the sport of speed skating took up the bulk of the years I remember truly paying attention to the Olympics pre-college. In his book, Ohno describes his golden rules for success that were developed after he retired from his sport. He was floundering and seeking a new identity away from the ice and it caused a few crises of self before triggering an epiphany on who he was and is. While it is geared more in the direction of self-help and entrepreneurship, Hard Pivot helps us self-assess and move forward when we’re struggling to do so.

  • The Golden Rules, by Bob Bowman. The greatest male swimmer of all-time is, without too much pushback, Michael Phelps. Bob Bowman, the man who coached Phelps to success from his first Olympics to his last, delivers words of wisdom in his book. These insights can be applied in a variety of ways: sports, life, business.

  • Your First Triathlon, by Joe Friel. After college, I was a little lost and burned out on training 6 days per week with lots of mileage (the by-product of old school coaching and being a distance swimmer). I picked up running to get over a bad breakup while I was living in a hotel for training for work and then kept it up once I was back home. I picked this book up on a whim and loved Coach Joe’s methodology, thought process and training plans. It helped me get over some humps mentally (even though I would eventually and slowly give up more and more physical activity like so many other young professionals) AND helped me coach my own athletes as they prepared for their first triathlons. It may not be for everyone, but perhaps someone here might resonate with Joe’s approach.

  • A Life Without Limits, by Chrissie Wellington. The 2007 Winner of IM World Championships relays some important life lessons: training for a race she wasn’t supposed to win, battling anorexia, nearly drowning, a controversial coach, training and diets and motivational techniques. This story was such a good read and Chrissie’s tone and storytelling ability drew me in and got me thinking about using my challenges to push me forward, rather than letting them pull me back.


Have a favorite book that’s inspired you? Drop it in the comments below! I’d love to read it!


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