The Beginning Runner's Handbook

The Right Stuff

It seems odd that there should be so much mystique and misinformation surrounding an activity as fundamental as running…but there you have it. For years, I gave in to this hype and believed that I could not run: it was too high-impact, I had too many previous injuries, runners all get hurt and can’t do other sports, et cetera. At the same time, I wanted to run, believing that if I could find a way to do it, it would enhance my fitness and participation in other sports. I feel fortunate that I happened on this book, which I believe has the recipe for success for people who are genuinely motivated to run, and who want to improve their health through running, not sacrifice it.

This book outlines a well-structured thirteen-week program, but that’s not its primary virtue. The self-help/fitness sections of bookstores are full of “program”-oriented books promising four weeks to this and eight steps to that, and while an approach like that might work better than some others in a society where thinking is primarily deductive, logical, and plan-oriented, it’s no guarantee of success. The real value of this book is in the way it demystifies running, providing sound fundamental information that has somehow eluded common sense. I found the discussion on cardiovascular fitness vs. musculoskeletal adaptation in chapter 2 to be a real lightbulb; likewise, the section in chapter 4 titled, “Think of yourself as an athlete”. Altogether, the mindset of this book could not be further from the simplistic/masochistic “no pain, no gain” mindset that urges you to just go out there and run, and suck up the consequences until your body simply falls apart. The book clearly and strongly articulates the notion that becoming more fit is a process of building up, not breaking down. “Just do it” — but do it the right way.

Don’t purchase this book the day before you want to go out and run. You really need to read the book through first. Buy the book, read it, get your mind ready — then get out there and run!

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