Jorge Carvajal of Hollywood, Florida emailed me the following: I was wondering if you could blog on your approach to reading. Do you read to increase performance knowledge? Do you read sometime just for pleasure? Do you read any magazines? How do you structure your reading to get the most out of it without getting information overload, yet stay current with respect to training information?
Reading and learning is very important to me. My parents were immigrants with very little formal education, at a very young age they instilled in me the desire to learn with reading being a primary means of achieving this. I feel that my reading has always given me an edge in what I do. I read voraciously. In my first year coaching and teaching when I made $7,600 dollars I spent close to $1,000 on subscriptions to journals and purchasing books.
The problem we all face today is separating the wheat from the chaff. To do that you need a good bullshit filter, fortunately my experience and background serve me well in this regard. For those of you without the benefit of experience I think a good sound foundation in sport science is important, it does not have to be formal, and it can be by reading. Start with the classic works in exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor learning, those works are the foundation for our field. By and large I do not read some of the popular online training sites that everyone seems to be attached to. Most of the sites and blogs that I do read focus on cognitive neuroscience and design to help me with my teaching and coaching. Online I look for ideas that will stimulate me to do further research.
I think it is important to belong to legitimate professional organizations and read their publications. I belong to ACSM, NSCA, US Track & Cross Country Coaches Association and American Swim Coaches Association. I also try to attend those conventions if I can to network and learn.
I subscribe to the following journals and read them regularly: Modern Athlete and Coach, Sport Coach, New Studies in Athletics, Running Research News, International Journal Of Sports Physiology And Performance, Medicine and Science In Exercise In Sports, both the NSCA journal and the research journal, and Techniques for Track & Field and Cross Country. I subscribe to SIRC in order to search other journals that I cannot afford to subscribe to. I also try to visit a university library once a quarter to read sports science and science journals that are relevant to things I am working on. I also subscribe to Atlantic, Fast Company and Smart Computing. I regularly read the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. As far as recreational reading I read a lot of history and current affairs, biography, science and detective fiction.
I do read some blogs on a regular basis. I read Joe P’s blog – great practical stuff, real world, Seth Godin- Great common sense ideas that are thought provoking, Ironmaven- this keeps me grounded, Presentation Zen- this inspires me and fuels creativity, and Tom Peters- always stimulating.
Last but not least, I think each professional should have a network of people they can bounce ideas off of. Over the years this has been invaluable to me. People like Gary Winckler, Steve Myrland, Phil Lundin, Jim Radcliffe, Kelvin Giles and Nort Thornton walk the walk and talk the talk, they keep me grounded. I hope this helps some of you people new to the field to give you some direction. If you need more information I think sometime last year I posted an extensive reading list on the blog. Remember knowledge is power but there is no substitute for practical experience!