14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life by Alberto Salazar and John Brant, 5/5
Salazar’s life-story is every bit the page-turner that the book’s title suggests. It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the obsession that drives world-class athletes, but I was even more interested in how Salazar dealt with injury, set-backs, losses and depression to establish a thriving post-competitive career in a non-lucrative sport.
Why I read it: My friend, Peggy, passed it on to me.
Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running by Peter Larson and Bill Katovsky, 2/5
The authors are passionate about their topic but I feel this book contributes little to a discussion that is already very much lacking in scientific research and consensus among experts (or at least was in 2012, when it was written). In an approach reminiscent of the average college essayist, Larson and Katovsky cite a steady stream of inconclusive scientific studies and often-contradictory information that they do not have the expertise to interpret. Slap on some weak conclusions and the reader is left with a few interesting facts and no real guidance on how to apply them.
Why I read it: My dad mentioned it in conversation.
ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer, 3/5
The only way to properly review this book would be to commit some time to learning the “ChiRunning” techniques it outlines. However, since I have never experienced a running injury and am currently both lazy and pleased with my gradually-improving running skills, a proper review is unlikely to happen.
At any rate, the book is reasonably streamlined (though it does contain too many droolingly positive testimonials) and gives a clear presentation of the info. Dreyer did not convince me that there is such a thing as “chi,” but many of his claims seem commonsense enough to be true. His naturalistic, holistic approach does not seem too trendy or gimmicky and the tone of the book is sincere.
Further research into ChiRunning techniques will definitely be my first recourse if I ever stop enjoying running or get an injury, but for now, I will likely just watch a few of the related video guides and keep what I’ve managed to glean of the techniques in the back of my mind. Of course, if I see magical improvements in performance, I will be back here with updates and a higher rating.
Runner’s World Complete Book of Running
Runner’s World Complete Book of Running: Everything You Need to Know to Run for Fun, Fitness, and Competition by Amby Burfoot, 4/5
This is an encouraging book, with lots of advice for beginning to intermediate runners (like myself) – basically, anyone who hasn’t yet settled on a rigorous training program. Several concise, entertaining articles are provided on the following topics:
1. Beginning Running
3. Injury Prevention
4. Women’s Running
5. Building Strength, Endurance, and Speed
6. The Mental Side of Running
8. The Marathon.
One of the main themes of the book is training smart as opposed to just training hard. The authors point out that, in conjunction with a good training program, lowering weekly mileage can actually be beneficial to performance. There is also a lot of emphasis on taking an appropriate number of rest/recovery days. These ideas and the training concept of “Yasso 800s” (which I am looking forward to trying out soon) are the most important things I got from this book.
I would suggest reading the newest version, since several aspects of this 1997 version feel a bit outdated.
Marathon: You Can Do It! by Jeff Galloway, 3/5
This guide, which applies Galloway’s signature run/walk method to marathon training, is clearly the product of much expertise and experience on the part of the author, addressing a wide variety of helpful topics. While it wasn’t entirely convincing (I still really hate the idea of interrupting my runs with walk breaks), the concepts made sense and if I ever become injured or dissatisfied with my training progress, Galloway’s method is likely one of the first I would consider adopting.
Unfortunately, some serious flaws as a book affect the quality and utility of Marathon: You Can Do It! The first half contains multiple appearances of several identical or nearly identical sentences and paragraphs, making the text bloated and frustrating to read. Also, there is a notable lack of helpful diagrams and photos to illustrate key concepts (though the few charts that appear are good). This is a book that deserves to be updated and proofread by an editor who has eyes.
Thirty Phone Booths to Boston
The Quotable Runner
The Quotable Runner: Great Moments of Wisdom, Inspiration, Wrongheadedness, and Humor, edited by Mark Will-Weber, 3/5
I like the format of this book – each section is prefaced by a well-written and interesting/inspirational running anecdote. To me, most of the value of this book comes from the fact that Weber did his own primary source research, instead of just gathering quotes from other compilations.