stack of books

Do you have a collection of books sitting around collecting dust? If they’re encyclopedias or history books, sure, let them get dusty and yellow. But you need to keep turning the pages of your training and racing books to get the most benefit!

Here’s a page from my book reading strategy (pardon the pun).

I usually get a book and read it once, straight through, right away (duh). But I also take notes. Sometimes just mental notes, but it’s best to jot things down as you think of them.

My preferred method of note taking when reading books like this is to write out a list of important points along with page numbers, and then I can fold that up and keep it inside the book. That way I don’t lose it! Then, whenever I want to see something specific, I just scan my notes and get the page number.

You could also dog-ear pages, circle page numbers, underline or highlight important points, and/or write in the margins, but those methods just aren’t my cup of tea.

But even then, that’s not enough.

About once every year or two, it’s a good idea to reread all your books! It’s a lot of reading, but it’s very easy to forget stuff when you’re absorbing a 200+ page book! You get a good refresher on the material to reinforce what you know and remember, and maybe you even pick up a few things you missed the first time around.

I compare this to watching a movie a few times. Each time you’ll probably notice a new line or some subtle activities in the background, or at least understand all the foreshadowing.

But why?

Seriously, rereading your books is a good idea. Not only could you have forgotten important points, but each time you reread a book, you’re in a different state of mind or different place in your training or career. Things you didn’t give a hoot about before might make a world of difference a year later. Even if you don’t realize it, your mind will be looking to learn new things, so different parts of the book will stand out, and you could even have more ‘eureka’ moments!

Not to mention, you get your money’s worth this way!

How do you apply all this?

Here are a few examples from my library:

Lance Armstrong Performance Program
I review the 7-week plans once or twice a year to make sure I’m planning a proper training schedule, and when I do, I also scan through to see if there are any drills or types of intervals I have forgotten about.

It’s Not About The Bike
Great for inspiration. If I need to get motivated to perform my best and overcome obstacles (whether I’m coming back from an injury, facing a new challenge, or just being lazy,) I’ll read this.

Ned Overend’s Performance Mountain Biking
This is a great introduction to MTB racing for beginners, but I’ll still review it because I forget things sometimes. See, you won’t use all the advice in each race; some tips you might use once every five years. But then if you go five years without doing something or reading a “how to” do it, when that day finally comes, you will have forgotten it and you’ll get flustered!

Chi Running
Gotta keep skimming this all the time to keep improving my running form! (Chi Running book review.)

The Four Hour Workweek
This one gets you to think big and not settle for your current job or living conditions. There is so much inside you need to read it multiple times anyway! This is one I’d read anytime you get complacent and settled in (because you might be settling for less than you deserve, and this will get your head straight).

Hey, I thought this was a cycling blog, not a self-help blog!

You got me there! Though sometimes your life and cycling overlap, and I always feel better after a ride, so the two do get intertwined!

But if you do want more advice on improving your life, being more productive, and making the most of everything, here are a few good reads:

Just make sure you stop back here when you’re looking for cycling, mountain biking, and sports nutrition advice!

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Photo credit: austinevan

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  1. Very good point Levi. This applies to any discipline that you wish to explore more in depth. I often read books related to my career 2 or 3 times. Some times I reread entire chapters or sections of a book before I’m even finished with the entire thing.

  2. Each time you read a book, you may also get better at learning from it.

    Because according to Harvard Business Review, you can get better at learning!

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