Recommended reading about running

This page brings together a few short reviews about and links to books that I would recommend reading and potentially owning as a runner or running coach.  Ultimately as a runner and especially if you are a coach it’s good to develop your own philosophy about how to train.  For me part of that process has involved a lot of reading.  Don’t take everything you read as a given, challenge, try, refine and even modify what you learn.

Running training

There are two key books I’d recommend in relation to getting some good information and advice about how to train for middle and long distance running.  The first is Daniels’ Running Formula (2005) which contains the wisdom and experience of one of the world’s best known running coaches Jack Daniels.  It also has two very useful features that would make it worth owning in its own right, even without the additional benefit of Daniels’ commentary:  The first of these is a 24 week training program for each of the following distance specializations: 800m, 1500-3000m, Cross Country, 5km-15km, half marathon and marathon.  The second is a training pace guide and system that allows you to match your current fitness level (based on a recent race performance) to training intensities for speed work, tempo/lactate threshold training, long runs, easy runs and high intensity long intervals.  This goes a long way to prevent you training too fast and getting injured.  If I had to buy one book about how to train for running this would be it. The training programs provide a good structure for runners and coaches alike and I find myself tweaking and modifying them to suit my purposes as a runner and the athletes I advise.

The second book that is worth owning and if you’re a marathon runner is also a must have in your library is Advanced Marathoning (2009) by Olympic Marathon runner and exercise physiologist Pete Pfitzinger and author Scott Douglas.  This book takes you through complete and very good explanations of the physiology of training for and racing the marathon, including fueling during and after runs, race strategies and importantly gives you a choice of training plans that will get you to the finish line based on moderate or high mileage.  You would be hard pressed to find a better book about how to prepare yourself for the marathon.

Running history

There’s no doubt it pays to learn about what has worked for good runners and coaches in the past.  Some of the lessons are less than obvious, but by paying close attention you can pick up a treasure trove of useful information.  Here are a few of the better books that you could loosely classify as historical in nature: The Perfect Distance Ovett & Coe: the record breaking rivalry. I’ve written a longer review on my blog, but in short this is a great entertaining read: Author Pat Butcher manages to build a sense of drama into the big races of the period and the preparations and personalities of the leading middle distance runners of the day. I’m a student of athletics and enjoy digging into what makes athletes successful: coaching, technique, strength training, support networks and psychological make-up. You get a good taste of each of these in the book and it leaves you wanting more. The training methods used by Coe and Ovett should be scrutinised, not only were they successful then, breaking numerous world records, but the personal best times of Ovett and Coe are still highly competitive today and certainly good enough to be in the medals in major championship racing where nous, belief, instinct and competitive fire decide the issue.

Anatomy, Injuries and General Running Knowledge

Basic Anatomy is important to understand as a runner and the Pocket Atlas of the Moving Body by Mel Cash does as good a job as most people would ever need in explaining how the body moves.  Every runner should develop a good working knowledge of how their body works, what makes it hang together and most importantly where it can get hurt or injured during running.  If you have run for a few years you might have noticed that the pain of a niggling injury doesn’t always manifest itself in close proximity to the actual cause of the problem.  I’ve found over time that it’s quite helpful to start prodding and poking at the sore area that I have developed and then check out this little book and see what the sore bit might be and then where it connects to the rest of the body.  I’m not suggesting you avoid getting a professional diagnosis if running injuries arise, but it does help track down the root cause of the injury and gives you and your physical therapist more information to work with.

Running Well by Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors is a handy but not wholly necessary book to have in your collection.  When I read the marketing literature ahead of its release I was quite excited by what I thought was going to be a book about how to run with good technique by two physiotherapists.  As it turns out there is very little specific information about running technique in the book.  However it does have some useful information and ready reckoner type tables that might help you track down and diagnose some common running injuries.  This information is quite general however, and you’ll still need to book an appointment with a physio to confirm your suspicions if you are injured.  There’s a few good anatomy diagrams and also some basic core, rehabilitation, stretching and strength exercises that most regular runners could do which make the book an overall useful addition to the library of any regular runner.

Coaching

These running books are more likely to be of interest to coaches or runners with a thirst for a deeper level of knowledge.  They are generally a bit more complex, detailed and in some cases hard to read – but the information here is good so it’s worth powering through to get to the heart of some useful knowledge.  Running: Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Applied in Practice by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp. This book isn’t easy to approach as it’s a large text and at 400 or so densely packed pages there is a lot to get through.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the 2005 English edition has been translated from Dutch so you have a very detailed and technical book that has been massaged into another language.  However, despite having to read over a few sections multiple times to fully comprehend what I was reading I found that the book contains some excellent information.  Particularly useful are the sections on running technique, strength training and plyometric training.  This is one of the few available books that actually offers an informed opinion about good running technique and I referred to it when writing my own book Running Technique.  Be warned, the exercises in this book are designed for highly trained and skillful athletes, most of them I wouldn’t even dream of doing.  However for this reason if you are a coach of advanced or elite runners then there are some very interesting drills, exercises, strength and explosive work you could use with your athletes.

Biographies – more to come

Left field – more to come

One Response to “Recommended reading about running”

  1. Mark Venz says:

    Hi Brian,
    I have purchased your ebook. I’m up to chapter 8 and am enjoying your practical explanations and diagrams. The web pages also help the explanations. I’m returning to running after about 3 years away from it and looking forward to improving my times and running enjoyment.

    Your book is great and I’m excited about trying your ideas and training techniques.

    Keep up the great work!

    Mark

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"When Brian asked me to write the foreword to his book I agreed instantly as it covers a critical aspect of successful running. Running Technique is easy to read and based on sound scientific research. It provides practical advice on how to improve technique for all runners"Philo Saunders PhD, Senior Physiologist, Australian Institute of Sport

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