Friday, June 27, 2008

Reading about Running

I can always tell when my running is starting to pick up. I suddenly ‘need’ a new pair of running shoes, and all my singlets seem to be either ratty-looking or smelly, usually both. Running well is nice. Running well in new gear is way out there. You don’t need a runner’s high to enjoy breaking in a new pair of running shoes. So, predictably, after two back-to-back weeks of 40+ miles, I laid out some cash for a couple of pairs of Asics 2130’s. One yellow, one blue. Honestly, in the Houston summers, everyone - well every guy at least - needs to alternate between two pairs of running shoes. Most of us sweat so much that any long run turns our legs into a two-lane perspiration highway, straight down to the insoles.

It’s not just about buying stuff. When I am running well, I also want to read about running and about what is going to make me even faster or tougher, a smarter runner or a better prepared one. Having finally canceled Runner’s World after just one too many Cosmo-esque ‘great abs’ article, I resort to books. Mostly, I start re-reading my favorite chapters from old running books. Simply because there’s not been much good written about running recently. Except on the internet of course, but you can’t take the internet into the bath with you (one of my favored reading spots). My last two running books were really disappointing. Alberto Salazar’s Guide to Road Racing had ‘ghost writer’ written all over it, although I was mildly interested in his approach to strength workouts. Run Right Now by Joe Henderson was just lame, absolutely nothing new there. I had expected more from such a talented writer.

Amongst books that I go back to regularly are Hal Higdon’s well-written Guide to Marathon Running, Tim Noakes’ encyclopedic Lore of Running and Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning. Noakes’ book (I don’t have the latest edition) is badly organized and the main subject headings often don’t make sense. Even so, it contains an unbelievable amount of useful (and sometimes not so useful) running knowledge and the science behind it. Pfitzinger is inspirational, mostly concise and down to earth. I don’t much care for the various suggested training programs. They have a boiler-plate feel to them and the introduction to each and every training program is practically identical. Why bother to repeat the exact same stuff over and over again?

A few other books which I’ve found to be useful include the Runners Book of Training Secrets by Ken Sparks, Daniels’ Running Formula (also in need of editing), Maximum Performance by Michael J. Ross MD and Run Strong, edited by Kevin Beck.

Just for fun, I occasionally re-read ‘Spaghetti Every Friday’ by Bob Fletcher, a humorous tale about running 50 marathons in 50 weeks at age 50. Deep down, most serious marathon runners are just as obsessive as Fletcher; some of us are just more repressed than others. If we could get away with it, we would probably run twice a day and do a marathon every weekend. Reading Spaghetti Every Friday is as close as I’ll ever get to running 50 marathons in 50 weeks and still be able to smile – and walk.

So this weekend, I will be out browsing the aisles of Borders and Barnes & Nobles for something new about running, to feed my renewed enthusiasm. Apparently there is a new book about running injury free. Wow. That’s a first. Chances are that I will find something, no matter how obscure. The $60 gift card I got for Father’s Day will be spent in no time. The thrill of running I will treasure for as long as I can.

This week’s running: 43 miles.

Sun June 15: Easy 6 miles along Terry Hershey Trail. Mixed lemon-lime Gatorade from powder - need to be more frugal! Comrades Marathon took place in South Africa – this is something I need to do before I get too old. Between them, my two younger brothers have run it 6 times.

Mon June 16: Very warm morning; 8 miles along Terry Hershey, first 1.5 miles with Chris, a neighbor. It was nice to have some company.

Tue June 17: 4.5 miles including 3 X mile repeats (7:15, 7:15, 7:17) at Memorial High school track. Feeling pretty strong despite heat.

Wed June 18: Early morning medium long run – 9 miles at average pace of 9:20 – Terry Hershey Trail. About 74F at 06:00, cooler than yesterday, not bad!

Thu June 19: Brother in law Heinz’ birthday. 5 miles including four hill repeats, with several Houston Strider club members, from Terry Hershey Park to Barker Reservoir.

Fri June 20: Scheduled rest day.

Sat June 21: 10.5 miles at average pace, with Steve Shepard at Bear Creek Park. Very good outing, longest run in many weeks.


rundangerously said...

wow, "spaghetti every friday" is one of my favorite running books! rarely hear anyone mention it!

have you heard of bart yasso's "my life on the run?" it's on my list of running books to get to this summer.

good luck w/the citizenship!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Just reading your post you've inspired me to get out for a run!!
I enjoyed Hal Higdon's book as I was preparing for my last marathon (too long ago, 2004). Runner's World is definitely a disappointment. Hope you found something worth reading.

Makita said...

I've been rather disappointed with RW as well and plan to not re-subscribe when it expires in October. I have read only a few running books (Pfitz' Advanced Marathoning and Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore).

Have you read the Bowerman book? It is a biography rather than a guide to improve running. It's a great read, though!

Thanks for stopping by and posting on my blog. It is always fun to meet new runner/bloggers. :D