Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review – Galloway’s Book on Running (2d ed.) by Jeff Galloway

As the title implies, this is a reference book that covers all things running. There are chapters on starting out, training, racing, form, strength/cross training, stretching, and the mental side of running. The book also includes information on injuries, food, weight loss, women’s issues (authored by the author's wife), advice for runners 40+, training for kids, and shoes.

Why listen to this guy? He is an Olympian (10K, 1972) and has been a runner for over 40 years. And he’s made a career out of training regular runners – 200,000 of them according to his page.

Galloway doesn’t get wrapped up in summarizing the latest scientific studies on running, although his big picture advice is generally consistent with books that build running philosophies on such studies – e.g. Brain Training For Runners (Matt Fitzerald) and Run Faster (Brad Hudson and Matt Fitzerald). Galloway’s book is very practical. He recommends training that he’s seen work for the majority of regular runners over his coaching career.

And the book cover is one of my favorites:

I previously reviewed Jeff Galloway’s 5K/10K Running and pooh-poohed Galloway's walk/run methodology. The Book on Running expands on the concept, and now I buy into it. Galloway recommends taking a one minute walk break every eight to ten minutes during a long run. Walk breaks will allow you to run longer with better form. And you’ll probably experience less fatigue post-workout, so you can carry on with your day instead of napping the afternoon away. From my perspective, the most important benefit of walk breaks is a quicker recovery time post-long run. When you walk, you use a whole different set of muscles, so taking a one minute walk break gives your primary running muscles a moment to relax. Further, Galloway says one minute walk breaks will not impede the aerobic fitness gains that you are seeking when you do a long run. I’ve tested it out on recent long runs. I am taking walk breaks, but not like clockwork every x number of minutes. But I will walk when I need to take a drink. Or if I have to cross an intersection with a traffic signal, I’ll walk if I see that I am going to have to wait at the light anyway. Lately, I walk when I feel overheated. Does it promote quicker post-long run recovery? I think so. As I am gearing up for a half marathon this fall by lengthening my long runs, I am not feeling as sore after long runs as I remember from prior training cycles.

I recommend the book for both beginning and experienced runners. The advice is basic enough not to overwhelm some one just starting out. And there are enough interesting tidbits to give the experienced runner a reason to keep reading. Some of those tidbits include:

1. After a race, Galloway says you should take one rest/easy day for each mile of the race. For example, after a 10K, no speed workouts for 6 days.

2. Limit racing miles to 13 per month, so that means you can do (i) two 10Ks; (ii) two 5Ks and one 10K; or (iii) one half marathon. (This book only covers training for up to the half marathon distance. Marathon training is covered in Galloway’s Marathon: You Can Do It!)

3. For the recreational runner with limited time to devote to the sport, Galloway says three running days per week is ideal. There is a dramatic increase in fitness if you run three – as opposed to one or two days per week. And there are only small gains to be had by running four, five, six, or seven days per week.

4. You can cut your miles by 50% for ten weeks without losing significant fitness. 


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