What’s one of the best books you’ve read recently?
I just finished Dr. Mark Cucuzzella’s Run for Your Life and if you’re looking for a good running-related book, this one is comprehensive from the perspective of a distance runner, doctor, professor, race director and minimalist running store owner… yes, he wears many hats!
I think what drew me in was the overlap with the theories I’ve been learning recently: from my sports chiropractor this summer, from Altra running creator Harper Golden, from lower carb researcher Tim Noakes, and from my own experience running over the years.
In some ways, the book is very basic for the beginner runner. In others, it is very cutting edge- questioning the nutrition and running myths that are assumed to be true in the running culture.
Here are a few of them:
1) There is no evidence that modern shoe designs protect your feet- elevated heels can ‘disable’ your foot
He emphasizes the need for a shoe to be flexible with a lower drop and thinner than many traditional running shoes. This is something I heard repeatedly from the Altra injury prevention crew. I shared some of the benefits of a lower drop shoe here and it’s been working for me.
2) The fascia play a larger role than we thought
I don’t think I ever thought about fascia before getting regular treatment from my chiro this summer! He used the Graston technique (ouch) to work out the knots in my fascia, all the tissue that we need to work with us as runners.
We need our fascia for movement and bounce to keep the spring in our step. Sitting can cause the fascia to grow sluggish and stiff- Dr. Cucuzzella says the properties of the body’s myofascial tissues can actually change over a few months.
Foam rolling helps keep this fascia even and smooth. Fascia also responds to slow stretches like the mountain climber hold, hip openers and the dynamic burpee. Yoga is great, too.
3) To prevent injury, HOW you run is key
Low impact running is important- a slight lean forward, standing tall with good posture and landing quietly. If you are not landing softly and quietly, focusing on a softer landing will improve the impact the entire way up the chain.
4) Build the engine with an aerobic base over high intensity, and fat over sugar
These, again, are themes I’ve found in the work of Dr. Noakes and Dr. Maffettone and others, and are ones that are not always put into place in the running community.
Building the base with heart rate training or all aerobic miles gives your body a strong foundation before attempting speed work or higher intensity workouts.
Most runners have heard of the 80/20 concept (keeping 80% of your running easy and pushing higher intensity for the remaining 20%) but he encourages runners to watch their heart rate and consider the MAF heart rate training.
Burning fat over sugar is another huge topic which I’ve covered in the past and have experimented with in fasted runs and glycemic depleted long runs.
I had mixed results- initially it helped my body need less fuel for long runs, but I also think this type of training can create more stress and cortisol than fueled runs and I’ve switched back to fueling for my runs. It’s an area I’m intrigued by but am not sure that all of us (men and women) respond equally.
As you can tell, there is so much packed in here! If these topics interest you, dive in deeper and check it out. Each chapter also ends with recommended drills which I found really helpful- both for more flexibility and injury prevention as well as general good health and mobility.
Tell me what running book you’ve read most recently?