I hope that everyone had a good weekend, I’ve got something slightly different today; a book review.
The last book review I produced was for a lengthy academic book on the science of environmental flows. To be honest, the experience of having to read and review a 424 page book in three days put me off the process of reviewing books.
However, when I was sent the press release for a new book – Running Science – I knew that I would enjoy reviewing the book as it covers two of my favourite subjects.
I’ll start with a huge spoiler. Running Science is by far and away one of the best running books I’ve read. I found the book so engaging I couldn’t put it down and read it from cover-to-cover in one sitting. Pretty unusual for me as I am normally very easily distracted.
Running Science contains contributions by several different researchers and sports scientists and is edited by John Brewer, Professor of Applied Sports Science at St Mary’s University in London (follow John on twitter @sportprofbrewer). The book looks at the scientific facts behind the world’s best performances and includes insights that offer you the analysis to help you raise your game.
At its most basic level, running is deceptively simple. All you need to start is a decent pair of running shoes and some comfortable clothes. However, after a while most runners will want to learn more about the many factors – for example the weather – that affect running performance. Science plays an important role in most, if not all, of these factors.
John Brewer and his team of expert contributors read through hundreds of scientific studies on running – a detailed reference list is provided – and broke their findings down into eight chapters; (1) The runner’s body, (2) Perfect motion, (3) Fuel and fluid, (4) Running psychology, (5) Training and racing, (6) Equipment, (7) Running well and (8) The big questions. Each chapter explores a different aspect of the sport through a series of questions for example:
Do ice baths aid recovery after long or intense runs? Are there physical limits to human marathon running achievement? The answer to each question is presented in a straightforward, accessible manner with accompanying infographics.
Rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight four of the articles I found particularly interesting. Although the quality of my photographs is poor – sorry! – I decided to include them to show how each article is well laid out, includes infographics and is very easy to follow. If you want to read the text you’ll have to purchase the book.
How much does body weight affect running performance?
The combination of an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol and being unable to run has left me feeling out of shape. I’m definitely carrying too much weight at the moment.
This article looks at the results of a study that explored the effect of excess weight on running performance. Although carrying excess weight slowed down the six runners who were tested, the added weight also reduced their maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) relative to their body weight.
Can running shoes help with running form?
Like most runners, once I found a brand and type of running shoe that suited my running style, I’ve tended to stick with it. I do sometimes worry that always wearing motion control shoes when I run is weakening my feet. I also wonder what would happen if I attempted to run in minimalist running shoes.
Although this article isn’t particularly technical, it does provide a useful guide to the different types of running shoe. It also highlights the five elements a runner needs to consider when selecting running shoes. I hadn’t even considered two of these elements.
Can compression clothing improve performance and prevent injury?
I regularly wear compression socks when I run longer distances, and find that they help to reduce muscle fatigue. However, I’m aware that a lot of runners think that compression clothing is a waste of time and a gimmick.
Although, from this article, it appears that the jury is still out on the efficacy of compression clothing, if as a runner you think compression helps then it’s worth considering including compression wear in your running gear.
Is it advisable to continue to train when injured?
I’m not the only runner who has chosen to ignore the occasional niggle. If I’d been given a pound every time a runner asked if they could run through the pain, I’d be a multi-millionaire.
When I read this article, I loved the Pain – it’s all in the mind infographic; apparently ultramarathoners really are masters at coping with extreme physiological stress. The article concludes that although it is possible to run through an injury, it depends on you and your unique brain.
If in doubt, get it checked out!
I would highly recommend Running Science to runners of all standards. I can guarantee that even experienced runners, who think they know everything there is to know about running, will find this book useful. I’ve made room in my already overflowing bookcase for this book as I am certain I will be referring back to it on a regular basis.
Running Science is published by Ivy Press and has a RRP of £20 and is available from all major bookstores.
**Full disclosure: I was sent an advance copy of Running Science for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**