5 Running Books Every Runner Should Read

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Whether you are a recreational runner going for your regular 5k runs, in preparation for a marathon or ultra or obstacle course racing you should consider knowing a little bit more about the runner’s body, your runner’s body.

Understanding the basics of how your body works at a muscular, skeletal and cardiovascular levels will enable you not only to get more out of your training, but to understand why running injuries happen and what do to if they happen.

Of course a professional, such as a physiotherapist, can look at injuries better and in more detail, prescribing a suitable treatment. And you should check with a professional when you are injured. Nonetheless you should also have an idea of what’s going on.

Some running injuries happen because of repeated movements, if you understand what movements cause your injuries then you can eliminate or change them and, as a results, get rid of the injury and avoid it in the future.

Furthermore one way to reduce the impact on your joints and tension in your muscles is to uncover a form of running that does just that.

Below you have a list of, what I believe, are the top 5 books you should read if you are a runner, regardless of the distance you run. There are many great running books I’ve read but these are 5 of them that left an impression on me. Keep in mind that this list and the descriptions are subjective, you may find you will discover something else in these books, but it will give you an idea of which book to choose.

I also organised them in an order that, I believe, will transition you to the mechanics of running in a way that will make sense even if you know nothing about anatomy.

Once you start running consistently wear and tear takes place. If you can reduce that then you can run faster, for longer and with less risk of injuries. In short you will run smarter and more aware of your runner’s body, which is what we begin with:

1. The Runner’s Body by Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas

This book takes you through everything that happens in the runner’s body. From how muscles work and fire, to the skeletal system and common running injuries, to the cardiovascular system, metabolic system – where they talk about nutrition and hydration, how the nervous system works and the runner’s immune system.

I find this book very detailed and educational. But you needn’t worry if you  don’t know much about mechanics and anatomy. They explain everything in easy to understand terms. Just read through it and you will catch the information that is most valuable to you at that particular time.

Click on the image below to check out The Runner’s Body by Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas on Amazon:

2. Running With The Whole Body by Jack Heggie

This book introduces us to the Feldenkrais Method applied to running. It’s a very, very interesting and important book in my opinion. It’s a short book but each chapter has a series of detailed exercises meant to “reset” your nervous system.

In short through these exercises you re-wire or re-educate your body’s movement to be more efficient not only when running but also when walking and moving in general.

The big picture I took from the book is the connection between the upper and lower body through the hip. Understanding how the hips works with the shoulders to get you to run lighter but also faster and reduce aches and pain will be an eye opener for you as it is for every one of my clients.

The reason this book is on the 2nd place is because running is a whole body movement, and, unless you understand that – understand it not only mentally but also physically, in your body – you cannot develop an efficient running form, in my humble opinion. So check out Running With The Whole Body by Jack Heggie clicking on the picture below.

3. Natural Running by Danny Abshire

Natural Running by Danny Abshire introduces us to the three gates: walking gate, running gate and sprinting gate. But also how to examine your own running form, educating the reader on on foot imbalances and the evolution of the running shoe as well as how to choose your running shoes.

What sets the Natural Running book apart from the others is the explanation on foot biomechanics and the three gates. I also liked the way Danny Abshire approaches the more common overuse running injuries.

Then he goes on to detail the physics of running and whole body kinematics.

You will also find a chapter on exercises to help you develop the natural running technique and an 8-week transition plan.

This is also a good book if you want to learn how to transition to barefoot running or minimalist running (with “barefoot shoes”)

All in all a great book to introduce you to the world of running mechanics. Check out Natural Running by Danny Abshire by clicking the picture below.

4. POSE Method of Running by Nicholas Romanov

POSE Method takes you through a step by step technical approach to more efficient running mechanics.

It describes exactly how to place your feet on the ground, what your legs should do afterwards, how to hold your trunk and much more. There are plenty of exercises to help you develop this particular running technique.

Although it emphasizes the mechanics of running it also dedicates a few pages to the  “thinking, seeing and feeling” process, basically the internal aspect of running.

It also takes the reader through the most common running injuries, why they happen, from a POSE Method perspective, and how to adjust your running technique to reduce the risk of it happening again or in the first place.

This technique will also enable you to run barefoot or run minimalist.

There are several elements of the POSE Method we incorporate in our own running mechanics here at the Merisoiu Technique Institute. Check out the POSE Method of Running by Nicholas Romanov below:

5. Chi Running by Danny Dreyer

Chi Running has its roots in the art of T’ai Chi, “based on the centuries-old principle from T’ai Chi that ‘less is more’ “.

The focus here is on breathing and relaxation in general, as it is in T’ai Chi, going “limp”, opening the stride behind you and letting your body flow.

It emphasises the idea of listening to your body and on patience and consistent practice.

It also talks more about the upper body movement. So take book #2 and put it next to Chi Running and you will develop a very efficient upper body movement which will help you on your toughest runs, including hill running.

Chi Running method  will “give you a physical understanding of how to put it all together in a unified movement”. Check out Chi Running by Danny Dreyer clicking the link below:

 

Hope you will take the time to read a few, if not all of these books. I assure you it’s time well spent. These books don’t only teach you about running but about movement, and movement is what you do every single day.

By the way the amazon links are affiliate links. 

Running Technique – Elements Of Effortless Running – Lower Body

elements of effortless running-blog

Any books you read on running technique which has the potential to reduce the risk of injuries have a few common elements. Each technique or style of running (i.e. Chi Running, Pose Method, Natural Running) has its own particular elements that sets it aside from the others, however they all state that to run with less effort and fewer injuries a runner should:

 

1. Land with the foot underneath the body 

That means DO NOT land ahead of your body because you overstride, break your momentum and increase impact. When you overstride you also have to power up by re-engaging the back muscle chains to start a new stride. More effort, more muscle tension, more impact, higher risk of running injuries.

If you can see your feet when you run (by looking down with your eyes and head, not by bending your whole body) it’s a sign you are probably overstriding, landing heavily in front of your body.

Bouncing up and down too much can be another sign. Usually, if you land under your General Centre of Mass you won’t bounce, you will move smoothly, almost like gliding.

This will also help reduce the rotational forces in the joints which lead to overuse injuries in the ankles, knees, hips, spine.

 

2. Lean the body from the ankles

This is an up-right, slightly forward leaning from the ankles, correctly aligned posture. Let gravity do the work instead of using your muscle strength.

 

3. Strike the ground with a midfoot strike

Another common element is the midfoot strike. If you land under your general centre of mass and use gravity to move forward there is no way you will do a heel strike. You will automatically go into a midfoot-forefoot strike.

That being said make sure you don’t run on your toes. You land on the balls of your feet and then allow the heels to touch the ground slightly. That’s it.

If, when you run, you listen closely you can tell whether you land with the ball of the foot. You will hear a “tap” and then you will feel the heel touching the ground. If you hear a “punding” that’s heavy landing and probably heel striking.

If you think about it pretty much all sports require a midfoot or forefoot body weight distribution: dancing, skiing, martial arts free sparring, even tennis. Look at the footwork in this tennis match, just the first 10 seconds.

 

4. Pick up the feet

Your feet are like pendulums. A long pendulum will move slower, a shorter one will move faster. So stop shuffling your legs, dragging them behind you, instead pick them up and bend your knee. 

5. Aim for optimum cadence 

Running cadence is measured by the number of strides per minute that each leg takes. The optimum running cadence is considered to be 85 to 90 strides per minute. 

If you do all of the above then you can maintain the optimum cadence.

However you have to build up gradually to this cadence if it’s not your normal. Then you keep that cadence all the time and use the lean and picking up your feet to move faster. In Chi Running you also increase the strides to increase speed. But you move faster because you lean more and relax your legs more not because you are using muscle power. You should not put effort to increase your strides, it will happen as you lean more. But first master the lean.

Factors Leading To Running Injuries – Change

Does running regularly mean you will end up having to pay physios for life? No, not necessarily. Although, like with virtually any sport, even swimming if you swim often and aim high, you will suffer some injuries. How bad, how often and for how long, now these are variables that can be changed.

Change is one of the causes of sport related injuries. And when we talk about running injuries we refer to:

– foot injuries – including plantar fasciitis
– ankle injuries
– shin splints
– knee injuries
– hip injuries
– lower back pain

These are very common injuries and pains in runners who run regularly and push themselves to make progress.

Change is one of the elements that can cause there types of running injuries. Change in terms of:

– speed
– distance
– running frequency, but also
– different shoes (watch out minimalist/barefoot runners when transitioning to minimalist shoes), and different technique
– training type – i.e. from endurance training to interval training

No matter how much you try to progress fast, you are directed by your NERVOUS SYSTM. Until the nervous system adapts to the change, any attempt to push beyond it’s adaptation time frame can lead to injuries.

Thus, my advice on any changes you wish to make:
– make change slow
– have patience
– make the correct changes
– make the changes correct
– get a coach to direct you so you do things the right way, especially if you are a beginner

Need coaching? Email support@themtechnique.com or click here to book a free consultation.

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Transitioning To Barefoot Running – What You Need

Transitioning-To-Barefoot-Running-What-You-Need

Barefoot running or minimalist running is not something new. It’s new for us in this modern age, after we stepped into our amazing modern world. However, we must understand that we have inherited a stone age body, and have placed it in a modern environment (Daniel Lieberman – The Story Of The Human Body). Thus, many of the aches, pains and some of the diseases we suffer from today come from this discrepancy between what our body needs and what our brain gives it.

When I transitioned to barefoot running or minimalist running (this means running in minimalist shoes, for those who are not familiar with the term), I was coached by Obstacle Course Race Coach Michael Cohen. And how lucky I felt and feel learning such skills from a coach like him.

Throughout coaching and then my own exploration of bare foot running I reached the following conclusions about what a runner needs to safely transition to bare foot of minimalist running:

 

1. Running technique

You might be an amazing running, a very experienced one, but going from normal running shoes to barefoot or minimalist running is a great leap. It’s a great leap for your body from a mechanical point.

When wearing shoes some muscles grow weaker, as they are not challenged. For example with bare foot running the foot muscles, knee muscles, calves, core, glutes (buttocks) are some of the muscles which are more challenged when running barefoot or with minimalist shoes.

Thus, you must ensure you practice correct running technique, go slow and have patience.

I wrote articles on running technique leave a comment below and I will send it to you.

 

2. Patience

No matter how much you wish to hurry the process, your muscles, tendons, ligaments and skeletal system will gradually adapt to support each other, as each develops.

Force your body at the wrong time and you risk long term injuries.

Even if you are a marathon runner you must start with 5-10 min slow running barefoot or in minimalist shoes, and build from there.

 

3. Coaching

Yes, I do believe that if you want to achieve something at a good level coaching is necessary? Why? How can you see the frame if you are in the frame?

You can’t, there has to be someone outside to see your technique and correct you. To make you aware of what’s happening. What might seem correct to you might be incorrect.

 

In conclusion here are a few points to remember when transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running:

  1. Start slow: wear the shoes in the house, then walking outdoors, then running 5 min, 10 and so on
  2. Build gradually
  3. Understand the basics of running technique such as malingered body and short strides (there are more elements)
  4. Transitioning can take anywhere from 3-6 months to 12 months, depending on how your body adapts and responds to training
  5. Get a coach, to ensure you are doing it right from the beginning; correct movements that are already ingrained in you will be much more difficult

 

That’s all folks. If you have questions do book a free consultation with me and I will do my best to help you on the spot. Book here