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”)
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.