If you want to be a better runner, then put down your phone, turn off your computer (after you finish reading this blog), put that book back on the shelf, and go for a run. There’s no substitute for training, but I recently read and revisited three books that can transform your running performance if you take action on the advice in each of these books. Knowledge without behavior change will not bring results; you have to do the work.
If I think about the biggest problems that runners face, I’d say that aches, pains, and injuries are first, then performance plateaus are a distant second. Many runners reach a point in their training that they are no longer able to progress with faster finish times or longer distances (without the introduction of more injuries or pain).
Buried the pages of these three books is the solution to these problems. If you read the books and are committed to the daily work required, you can transform your running performance.
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READY TO RUN: DR. KELLY STARRETT
Runners are notorious for training through pain. If we ignore it, maybe it will go away. The fantastic thing about our body is that it adapts and will usually find a way to keep moving forward. The not-so-great part is that if we keep moving with poor mechanics, we can eventually break down altogether.
This book addresses the common imbalances, inefficiencies, and the pains that runners face and gives you practical standards, solutions, drills, and exercises to make corrections so that you’ll be ready to run.
“It’s not about the shoes.”
Running shoes are not a long-term solution to aches and pains. You have to determine the root of the pain and work to correct it. It’s not a quick fix, but with a dedicated focus on your body’s routine maintenance, you can run pain-free.
“Hold the quality of running to a higher standard.”
It’s not about how many miles you can run, but how many quality miles with proper form and running mechanics. Quality over quantity.
“Don’t hide from the pain. Embrace pain. It’s a clue as to what you need to work on.”
“Problems are a gift. They are potential to solve and unlock untapped performance.”
“Feeling pain is a clear sign you’re doing something wrong.” (see book #2)
Ready to Run offers the potential to solve the problem of aches and pains once and for all. But make no mistake, it will take consistent daily work on your part.
THE RUNNING REVOLUTION: DR. NICHOLAS ROMANOV WITH KURT BRUNGARDT
Now that you are working on solving your pain issues with Dr. Kelly Starrett, you’re ready to address the next piece of the puzzle, how to correctly run so you can run farther and faster pain-free.
The Running Revolution book teaches the Pose Method of Running; essentially that there are three actions (and only three) in the gait cycle: pose, fall, pull.
“Running is when both feet are in the air.”
The Pose Method minimizes the time on the ground and the impact on your joints.
I’ve been studying (and practicing) the Pose Method of running. I read all the books, have been practicing the drills, and even attended a running clinic last weekend (click here to read more about what I learned). I am attending a certification course in October to become a Pose coach.
Running is a skill. If you don’t build that skill, then your running mechanics may suffer, which can lead to injuries. Most of us never learned to run, we strapped on a pair of expensive shoes and hit the road. We developed poor habits; then we piled on the miles; a recipe for disaster. No wonder such a large population of runners get injured or suffer from aches and pains each year.
The Running Revolution is full of practical running drills and workouts to learn the Pose Method.
You have to do the daily drills, the stretches, and the strength exercises. You have to be willing to reduce your weekly mileage, to take a step back and work on the skill of running. The drills are designed to rewire your brain, so that this method becomes second nature—but if you continue to run long distances your “normal” way of running, it’s more difficult (maybe impossible) to create new neurological patterns.
With daily drills practice, the lessons in The Running Revolution will help you master the skill of running.
YOU (ONLY FASTER): GREG MCMILLIAN
Now that you’re pain-free and working on your running mechanics, we can talk about training plans. Most runners skip right to this part— to their detriment. You (Only Faster) teaches you how to customize a training plan so that it is effective for your fitness abilities, experience, preferences, and genetics.
If you follow a generic training plan from Pinterest (or a training plan from this blog), you won’t see the kind of results that are possible with a customized plan for you.
Are you a speedster, an endurance monster, or a combination? Not sure? Your preferences and genetics play a role in how you should train. It’s not to say an endurance monster shouldn’t train for speed or vice versa, but your training should play to your strengths. If you are not paying attention to this piece of the puzzle, then you might have untapped performance potential.
You (Only Faster) shares training plans for most race distances, and most importantly, teaches you how to customize them with a personal running evaluation, so they are most effective for you. It explains training phases, zones, workouts, and the purpose behind each workout.
It gives you all the tools to train smarter and run faster, but to continue the running theme of this post, you have to do the work.
ATOMIC HABITS: JAMES CLEAR
You can read all the books ever written and never improve if you don’t implement the lessons into your daily life. You need to take action, which is why I included a bonus book to help you develop the new habits that will be necessary to build daily mobility, drills, strength, and run training into your life, and to get the most out of these books.
Atomic Habits is the best book I’ve ever read on behavior change. Learn the strategies to develop new habits, and how to break those pesky bad ones with actionable steps. Atomic Habits will give you the tools and techniques to transform your habits— because to make the changes that these books suggest, you must make the changes in your daily life. It’s no longer about the hour you spend running each day, it’s about what you’re doing to improve your performance the other 23 hours a day.
Ready to put in the work and transform your running performance? The ball is in your court now.
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Questions? I’d love to help.