25 November 2014

book review - Build Your Running Body

i'd like to think that i'm not (just) getting older, but that i'm getting better.

maybe that's what drew me to pete magill.

i'd read that pete is not only a running coach but also an active practitioner - holding several american age group distance records as well as being the oldest american to break 15 minutes over 5k.  and i would be happy just breaking 19 minutes for the same.

as i was also looking into some strength conditioning work to integrate into my off-season/base-training months i was definitely intrigued by the release of his book Build Your Running Body, co-authored with thomas "tinman" schwartz (running coach and exercise physiologist) and melissa breyer (a health and green-science expert).  to pick it up is a workout in and of itself - it's a tome at 448 pages, but once you flip through it you quickly recognize that it's not 8-pt densely packed font, and that part of the real value of the book are the photo pictorials of key exercises related to each particular chapter's focus.  especially for visual learners like me, these pages do make key lessons stick.

what this book does is to arrange itself according to some helpful micro-categories like:
  • Build Your Running Connective Tissue
  • Balance Your Running PH
  • Build Your Running Hormones
  • Build Your Training Schedule
  • Build Your Running Fats
 ... that are scientific enough to educate the novice through competitive runner about the science behind physiological development and adaptation, but to not be so cryptically explained as to leave you wondering whether or not you missed the pre-requisite course to this book.  magill's writing style is whimsical at times without being fluffy, providing enough change of pace to ensure that your brain doesn't hurt (if you don't want it to).  my only real critique of how he pens his words is that it's definitely fixed in a particular period in time:  references like this will likely be lost on readers who flip through this text in another 15 years or more:

 from p. 43 ... poor Biebs ...

Build Your Running Body is a fairly comprehensive (some might - and have - viewed it as 'encyclopedic') work on incorporating running as a key component of a healthy approach to life.  from stretching exercises to suggested recipes and workout pace charts, this book does try to pull everything into perspective.  it may falter in satisfying those who have a very particular focus or interest, but it is by necessity more of a generalist library volume than a highly specialized work (e.g. addressing weight loss, multiple extended training schedules for all race distances and types).  all that being said, i found real value in it, especially when it came to specific strength workouts and tweaking my running diet.

i'd unreservedly recommend checking this book out - i found it to be a more engaging read than steve magness' the science of running but that may be because i'm less of an intellect than can appreciate all of magness' research and theorizations.  i definitely think that it will be a go-to reference text for me for many training seasons to come.

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