Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review: 5K/10K Running by Jeff Galloway

5K/10K Running is the best book I’ve seen for someone just beginning to run. There is an entire chapter and 5K training plan for the runner just taking the first plunge into the sport. Galloway explains the basics of running anatomy, fitness, and nutrition in a straightforward manner, no science/medical jargon. There is no danger of getting overwhelmed. The book provides a clear path to fitness.

On the other hand, for the more experienced runner, the information is a little bit basic, and in my opinion, the merits of walking are overemphasized. The big picture advice is consistent with the research/scientific/medical-based books I’ve read, such as the Lore of Running and The Runner’s Body. But I knew hardcore science of running was not really what this book is all about.

I picked up this book for two reasons. First, I wanted some specific advice about training for a 5K because it feels so different than training for half marathons. Second, I wanted to hear an athlete’s point of view. Some words of wisdom from a seasoned runner.

And Jeff Galloway has some serious running street cred. Who is Jeff Galloway? From his website:

As a member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff competed against the world’s best athletes in Europe, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. He broke the U.S. 10-mile record (47:49) in 1973 and has a six-mile best of 27:21. Among his victories are the Peachtree Road Race, Honolulu  Marathon, Atlanta Marathon and top place finisher in many prominent U.S. races such as the Boston Marathon.

The book delivered some gems:

1. Galloway emphasized the potential dangers of speed workouts, the centerpiece of 5K training. Runners beginning speed workouts are likely to suffer injuries if they don’t ease into it. Throughout the training cycle, runners using speed training need to remain conservative on both volume and intensity. Further, Galloway recommends a 48 hour recovery period after speed workouts—no running, but cross training okay as long as you are not engaging legs or doing anything with impact.

2. You can expect a 3-5% improvement in pace over a 3 month training cycle.

3. He has some interesting ideas on training journals. I am going to try the Believe I Am training journal by Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan. I like his idea of writing down not only how the run went but also the weird and mysterious thoughts that pop into your head along the way. You know what I mean!

4. Good advice on dealing with heat and cold. The ideal temperature to run is about 60F. The book includes charts on what to wear for various temperature ranges below and above 60 and also how much each 5 degrees above 60 will slow down your pace.

5. Hill running form. Both uphill and downhill are briefly discussed. The basic advice for uphill during a training run is to run slow enough up the hill that you are able to maintain the same breathing rate as when you were running on level ground.

6. Morning pulse as an indicator of fatigue. Galloway recommends taking your pulse first thing in the morning before you even roll out of bed. Record it for 2 weeks, and take the average. You’ll have your base pulse. Anytime your morning pulse is 5% higher than the average, take an easy day. If your pulse is higher than 10% above your average, take a full rest day . . . your muscles need it.

7. Heart disease symptoms. We’ve all read anti-distance-running articles about the dangers of endurance training for the heart. Fact or fiction? I don’t know. But now I know the signs of heart disease and have a picture of the signs on my iPhone for quick reference in case of an emergency.

  • Intense heat build-up in the head
  • General overheating of the body
  • Significant headache
  • Significant nausea or vomiting
  • General confusion and loss of concentration
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Excessive sweating and then cessation of sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Excessively rapid breathing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling faint
  • Diarrhea

The Human Heart
Gray's Anatomy


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