Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: Long Road to Boston

This is a book I was looking forward to reading because I am finally heading to Boston in April. The timing of its release last month seemed appropriate for me for that reason. I also enjoyed Mark Sutcliffe’s previous book about running,  Why I RunYou can read my review here.

The book tells the story of the Boston Marathon before going into Mark’s efforts to qualify for Boston followed by his race day experience when he ran Boston. I enjoyed the historical aspect to the book because I was not familiar with all the stories and events that are described. It gave me a better idea of why the Boston Marathon has become the Holy Grail for many runners. 

Mark’s qualifying experience resonated with me for a few reasons. First, it also took him several attempts with some close calls along the way because he ran his qualifying time. Like me he finally met the qualifying standard in Pennsylvania (the Run for the Red Pocono Marathon for Mark and the Philadelphia Marathon in my case). Finally, when we both qualified we ended up beating the cutoff by 22 seconds. 

Last not not least I enjoyed Mark’s description of his trip to Boston and his race day experience. With my training cycle for Boston about to get underway soon it got me excited to start a formal training routine again and about what I have to look forward to when I go to Boston in April.

If you are like me and are heading to Boston or if you have Boston as a long term goal I recommend grabbing a copy of this book. 

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It

While I was off work recently due to the birth of my youngest daughter I managed to finish a running related book. This book actually applies to all endurance sports but I was interested in how it could apply to marathon training.

I managed to read a good chunk of this book while I was rocking my daughter…

What drew me to this book was its focus on the mental aspect of training for an endurance sport. The mental aspect is an important part of training for and participating in endurance sports but this is the first book I read that focused on the mental aspect.

Each chapter tells a story about a different athlete and how there surmounted challenges they were faced with. I liked this approach because it made for a quick read and because I was not familiar with many of the athletes profiled in the book.

The other aspect I liked about the book is that it made me think about my own training. More than one of the stories made me think about ways I could improve my training and race preparation.

If you are into endurance sports I think this is a book worth reading.

Book Review: Run Like a Champion

I read this book leading up to the Philadelphia Marathon last month and am finally getting around to posting my review of it. I enjoyed this book and it is one I would recommend to other runners.

Although author Alan Culpepper ran at an elite level, including two trips to the Olympics, runners at any level will find useful tips in this book.

In particular I found his chapter on fuel and nutrition to be particularly valuable as I got ready for the Philadelphia. I found that this book went it to more depth than others I have read with regards to proper race day nutrition.

I particular I was interested in Culpepper’s explanation of how it is more difficult to absorb fuel when it is colder and how that can impact a marathon. This was the first time that I read about this. Previously I had not considered altering my nutrition plan based on the weather.

He explains this  by discussing his experience during his first marathon when he did not adjust his race day nutrition plan due to cooler temperatures and contrasting it with his experience at the Athens Olympics 2004 where he adjusted his plan due to warm and humid temperatures.

Culpepper also provides plenty of good tips on training, recovery, creating balance, injury prevention and racing. Overall I would recommend this book  to any runner who is getting started or is looking to make tweaks to their training.

Book Review: The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition

I picked up a copy of this book a while ago and finally got around to read it. As I read it I was looking for tips for changes that I could make to my training that could potentially help me avoid hitting the wall in the last 10 km of a marathon. Having read it I know have a list of a few things to try out.

Obviously from the title the focus of the book is on nutrition and fuelling for marathons and half-marathons. Matt Fitzgerald offers some new ideas both in terms of overall nutrition but also race day fuelling. The goal is to help readers avoid hitting the wall late into a race.

The first tip offerred by Fitzgerald is to get lean. By that he means getting down to your ideal race weight. He offers some tips on how to determine what your ideal race weight is. The big takeaway for me here was not so much the idea of getting lean because it stands to reason that being lighter will help you go faster. For me what caught my attention was his suggestion that it is normal to gain weight, within reason, after a big race. The idea is that if you keep that gain within reason it won’t be difficult to get back down to your ideal race weight when you start another training cycle. 

The next aspect I thought was important was within regards to overall nutrition. Fitzgerald does not a our avoiding any foods. What he does do is ranking food in the following order: vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish/lean meat, whole grains, dairy, refined grains fat meat, sweets, fried food. What you want to do here is eat more of the first 6 groups while limiting the last 4.

A new idea I plan to try during my next cycle is that of doing a marathon simulator, 26.2 km at marathon pace, 3 or 4 weeks before my next marathon. I’ve added mileage at race pace during my longs runs in the past but never as much as this idea recommends. The idea here is to get in a long run at race pace that is enough mileage for a long run but not too much mileage that it will take you a few days to recover from. 

The final idea that caught my interest in the book was the idea of increasing your intake of fat, healthy fats, before you start your carb load. The recommendation is to Increase your fat intake during last 2 weeks of training (10 days then 3 day carb load). The goal is to get 65% of your intake from fat (avocados, cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, whole milk, salmon, Caesar salad). I plan to try this on a shorter scale before a half-marathon this fall to see how I react to it. 

If you are looking for a new approach to your training and nutrition I recommend reading this book. It also has some training plans at the end to help guide you through your training. 

Book Review: 4:09:43 Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners

imageI’ve had this book sitting in my pile o running books to read for a while now. I finally got around to reading it this week. At 134 pages it is a very quick read. I finished it in two nights.

As the title indicates the book provides an account of the 2013 Boston Marathon from the perspective of people who participated in the race. It was the first I read of the experiences of the people who were running that day.

It starts out at the beginning of race day and introduces the reader to a number of runners as they make their way from the start in Hopkinton to Boston. If you have not run Boston it gives you a good idea of what the experience would be like due to the way Hal Higdon describes the course and the crowds along the course.

Hal Higdon did a good job capturing the spirit of the day with this book. I would recommend picking up a copy if you want to learn more about what turned out to be a tragic day.



Book Review: Meb For Mortals

 I came across this book when i read a couple of early reviews on other running blogs. It peaked my interest right away and I picked up a copy so I could post my own review of it.  Having just finished reading it last night here is my review.
The first thing i will say about this book is that it is a very quick read since it is organized in short chapters where Meb goes over his thoughts and provides tips on a variety of of subjects – nutrition, stretching, cross training, strength training etc. Each chapters ends with a series of dos and don’ts to serve as a reminder.

I enjoyed the book for a couple of reasons. First it is interesting to read about how an elite runner prepares for a marathon. Personally, I picked up some tips and ideas here I am interested in trying in another training cycle. I say another cycle because I am too far along in this current cycle to make many changes.

Secondly, building on the first point, is that it is interesting to find out that an elite runner faces some of the same issues and preoccupations some of us recreational runners deal with. By this i mean things like the struggle to sleep the night before a marathon, the discipline needed to stick with a proper diet, fitting in time time for running and stretching afterward etc.

There you have it my quick review of Meb For Mortals. If you are interested in learning about how an elite runner prepares for a marathon and for tips you can apply to your own training go ahead and pick this one up. I don’t think you will be disappointed.