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Studying Up

Posted Nov 29 2012 12:25pm

I may not be doing much running these days, but that doesn’t mean that running is ever really far from my mind. Sometimes I just prefer to read about it instead of doing it…

Last April I went through the  Road Runners Club of America  (RRCA)  running coach certification  course. I got to spend two long days in a classroom with other runners, talking about every aspect of running — form, nutrition, pacing strategies, speed workouts, mileage, etc. I loved it. This was during a time when I couldn’t actually run much, and I kept my motivation up by telling myself that everything I was learning would be applied to my glorious comeback that summer.

…that didn’t exactly happen. I just wasn’t hungry enough . But as the season comes to an end, I’m finding myself more motivated than ever. I’m ready to move beyond my comfort zone and start training differently (read: smarter) than I have for the past couple of marathons (let’s just hope this motivation lasts through the holidays…).

I’ve learned a lot from the RRCA course and my years of racing, but I’d be pretty dumb if I claimed to know everything there is to know about training. As with everything in life, I think it’s important to always continue learning…at least if I want to become a better runner and a better coach , anyway.

But this fall, I realized that it had been awhile since I really studied running (with the exception of the certification, of course). Which is sort of weird, since this used to be one of my favorite aspects of the sport. There’s so much literature out there, so many different perspectives on how to train and how to get faster, and so many smart individuals to learn from. But somewhere along the line, I replaced reading books about running with simply reading running blogs. Blogs are great and all, but I think it’s time to expand my horizons a little bit.

So with that in mind, I picked up two new resources that I’ve been slowly making my way through. The goal is to read these over the next couple of weeks so that I can incorporate some new concepts into my training plan for Vermont City.

The two books I’m reading now:

Run Faster From the 5K to the Marathon by Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzgerald

IMG 2103

The premise of this book is adaptive training, which Hudson defines as the “belief that a responsive, evolving, creative approach to training is better than an approach that is too structured and formulaic.”

Sounds like common sense to me. What works for me as a runner may not work for you, and vice versa. And how often have you gone through a training cycle without tweaking anything? Hudson uses this approach to talk about the importance of coaching — which, for many of us, means self-coaching. This book touches on training for more than just marathons, which is what I’m most interested in. Obviously Operation #goodbye318 is high on my priority list, but I want to get faster in other distances along the way. (Also being targeted: my old half marathon PR. That needs to go ASAP.) I honestly don’t know how much I’ll get out of this book, but I’m interested to read more about his training philosophy and (hopefully) get some ideas to use in training for shorter races.



 Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas


I was sold on this book after reading the first lines in the Preface:

What do we mean by advanced marathoning? Simply this: that many runners aren’t content with saying, “I finished.” They want to run the marathon as they do shorter races — as fast as possible

I’d say that pretty much sums up my situation! I’ve heard a lot of great things about Pfitzinger’s approach to training, and of the two books I just purchased I’d say I’m most interested in reading this one. There’s a lot more science to it, which the nerd in me can’t wait to delve into. But I’m most excited about the training plans.


Pfitzinger’s plans center around higher mileage…something I need to start working into my training. I do not believe that everyone needs to run high mileage (a term I use very loosely…”high” has different definitions to different runners) in order to succeed in a marathon. My PR was run after a training cycle in which I barely peaked at 50 miles. You can get faster without going beyond that. BUT…when you’ve been doing the same thing and getting the same result time and time again, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that you need to change things up. I don’t want to just run more however…I want to run smart. I don’t plan on following any of his plans exactly (I never do that), but I do believe there are important principles that I can incorporate into my own training.

I will do a full review of the books once I’ve finished, just in case any of you are interested. Seeing as the weather keeps getting colder and snow is just starting to fall, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’ll be reading a lot over the next few weeks.


I’m curious — have any of you read either of these books? What did you think? Any other running resources that are high on your list?

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