Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Marathoners

Striano, Dr. Philip and Lisa Purcell. Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Marathoners: a step by step guide to getting the most from your running workout. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013.

This was a weird book for me. The goal of the book seems to be of two minds: either getting you fit enough to run a marathon (minus the cardiovascular endurance piece) or supplementing the idea that running is a good exercise for losing weight. The focal point of the book is strengthening and stretching key muscles that are used while running. Beyond that, there is very little about running aside from what to wear and where to run. The mechanics of running are largely ignored. But, to be fair, thrown in is a strange sample marathon training schedule. I’ll get to my comment on the training schedule later. But for now let’s focus on the good news.
There were a bunch of things to like about Anatomy, Stretching and Training. For starters, the overall layout of information is comprehensive and intuitive. I appreciated that the illustrations highlight the key muscles affected by the stretch or training move while the photograph of the individual doing the same thing highlights proper form. The anatomy information was, by far, the most informative aspect of the book. A neat little feature, one I’m sure everyone makes a beeline to find, is the stretching and strength training routines at the end.

Now for the bad news:

  • Page 9 – The last time I checked, a marathon is 26.2 MILES. In the introduction the last sentence is, “Take the time to learn how to run right, using the guidelines found in the following pages, and you’ll soon be entering that 26K.” Assuming that the “K” in that sentence is kilometers a 26K is the equivalent of 16.16 miles.
  • Yes, 16 miles is an impressive distance to run but it’s not a marathon.

  • Page 10 – I don’t know how they measure calories but I’ve never heard of a running program that burns 100 calories in an hour. As a 114 lb woman I burn approximately 100 calories for every mile I run. Maybe they meant mile instead of hour? That would make more sense.
  • Page 17 – I have looked at many different training plans for running marathons and they all agree on one thing – tapering mileage before a race. The sample marathon training plan supplied for Anatomy calls for a 20 mile run the day before running the marathon. Is that normal? To be fair, it might be a typo. It’s the only day that doesn’t actually have the word “run” after the mile distance. It just says “20-miles.” The question is 20-miles what?
  • I think the authors resorted to referring to yoga when they didn’t know what to call a certain stretch (like the back stretch = cobra). This causes confusion in regards to the high lunge/low forward lunge. For practitioners of yoga, a high lunge is done without either knee touching the ground, whereas a low lunge has the placement of the back knee of the ground.(p 86-87).
  • Some detail information is not consistent. Some exercises have times regarding how long to hold a move and/or how reps. For example, the standing quad stretch is to be held for 15 seconds at a time and repeated three times. The very next exercise, the sprinter’s stretch, doesn’t have that information. It would have been nice to see some consistency.

Running for Women

Goucher, Kara. Running for Women: from first steps to marathons.New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Reason read: running. Duh.

Kara Goucher is an Olympic distance runner. I decided to read her book partly because I was looking for a new perspective on an old theme, running for women. All in all, I found Goucher’s Running for Women to be informative, if not a little disorganized. I realize Goucher probably wanted the information approachable and therefor used a very deliberate tone, but I felt like it wasn’t serious enough or thought out enough. For example, in the section on running a marathon there is a little box titled “The World’s Simplest Marathon Training Plan (15 weeks)” (p 248), with the admonishment, “Before reading the plan, please review chapter 7 to learn…where you need to be fitness-wise…” (among other things). I went back to chapter 7 because I didn’t really remember that information. In searching the chapter I found Goucher’s personal marathon story, tips for organization before a race, advice on sex and food the night before a race, what to wear the day of a race (including extra deodorant), how to wear your hair and get your head space together…all sorts of interesting things, but nowhere did I easily find the information I was asked to review before reading the plan. Short of rereading the chapter I still don’t know where I need to be fitness-wise before running a marathon.
I mentioned disorganization. Let me elaborate. All of Goucher’s advice, quips, comments, answers to questions and personal stories are great, but they are all over the place. On page 106 she mentioned getting away from running every once in awhile. On page 110 she says the same thing, more or less, when she says, be okay with regular breaks from running.
Did I get anything out of reading Running for Women? Yes. I liked the nutrition section a lot. I appreciated her honesty when talking about her own relationship with food. I even enjoyed her advice for new moms even though I didn’t need the information.


Yoga for Runners

Felstead, Christine. Yoga for Runners. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014.

I loved this book so much I’m calling it my yoga bible. As a runner frequently plagued by injury, I was hopeful Felstead’s book would help me run with less pain. Notice I didn’t say “without pain.” This is not a miracle cure for those of us with hips and knees constantly out of alignment. But, having said all that, I took a long time to write the review for Yoga for Runners because I wanted to spend some time actually trying out the sequences more than once, especially the hour-long ones. Eager to get right to it, I had to rein myself in and actually read the chapters leading up to the sequences. Go figure. But, I’m glad I did. Each chapter builds upon the next, complete with photographs and testimonials. Each pose is broken down and thoroughly explained so that when you do (finally!) get to the sequences you have a better idea of what you are supposed to be doing (which is a good thing because holding the book open while trying to practice the entire sequence is nearly impossible. In fact, trying to read and move at the same time is the only drawback to Yoga for Runners. I ended up putting an 8-pound weight on the spine to keep the book open. I know, I know. Not good. I would have preferred a spiral bound book that lays flat when opened or, as someone else mentioned, a DVD to accompany the text.
But, back to the good stuff. The post-run sequence is easily my favorite go-to. It’s only 5-10 minutes long so there’s no excuse to skip it. My second favorite sequence is the maintenance routine. It’s over an hour long, but each pose is essential so your time is not wasted. The flow from pose to pose works well for all sequences. I know a runner who is a better yogi than runner. I would be curious to get her take on Yoga for Runners since she has been combining the two activities for years.

Reason read: this was sent to me as an Early Review selection, courtesy of LibraryThing.


Waterlogged

Noakes, Tim. Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports. Campaign: Human Kinetics, 2012.

I have to start off by saying I had an acute interest in the subject of hydration in sports because I have a difficulty drinking enough fluids all the time and not just when I’m exercising. I am not an endurance athlete. I have never even run a marathon, but the question of just how much water should I be drinking has haunted me for years. You always hear the same old sermon, “drink more water.” Whatever your intake, double it. Triple it. That’s what I constantly heard. It was shocking to hear otherwise. Less is more in the world of sports. Who knew? But what Dr. Noakes has to say makes sense.

To carry around Waterlogged was a mini strength training routine in its own right. This is not a small manual on hydration rules for the ultra-marathoner. This is a extensively thought out, scrupulously researched, carefully documented and well written textbook on why over-hydration is not only a problem it is potentially deadly. Noakes outlines cases of athletes collapsing and dying from hyponatremia or water intoxication. He provides charts and graphs and scientific research to illustrate many different things including how water forces the balance of electrolytes and sodium out of balance and how this is potentially a bad thing; how is can be nearly impossible for the body to recover from. Noakes delves in to the murky world of marketing to illustrate how products like Gatorade are brainwashing our society to believe we cannot be athletes without them. While all the scientific data looks daunting readers shouldn’t be intimidated by it. Noakes uses a language that is straightforward and concise.

postscript: it took me a few weeks (and one very long flight) to read the July issue of Runners World so it wasn’t until after I wrote this review that I discovered a quote from Dr. Noakes and a mention of his book Waterlogged.


August ’10 was…

August. The last gasp of summer before everyone starts thinking about back-to-school clothes, back-to-school school supplies and back-to-school attitudes. I know my college has already adopted the attitude now that the athletes and international students have started arriving on campus. August was quiet compared to July’s crazy traveling. But, for books it was:

  • The All-Girl Football Team by Lewis Nordan ~ Nordan is my emotional train wreck.
  • Zarafa: a Giraffes’s True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin ~ in honor of Napoleon’s birth month even though Napoleon is a teeny part of the story
  • Zel by Donna Jo Napoli ~ the clever, psychological retelling of Rapunzel.
  • The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester ~ in honor of National Language Month, but I didn’t finish it. Not even close.
  • Undaunted Courage by Simon Winchester ~ a really interesting account of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles ~ probably one of my all-time favorite books.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program: I started reading Play Their Hearts Out by George Dohrmann. Review coming in September.

For fun I read:

  • fit = female: the perfect fitness and nutrition game plan for your unique body type by geralyn b. coopersmith ~ the cover of the book didn’t use capital letters so neither did i.
  • Nutrition for Life: The no-fad, no-nonsense approach to eating well and researching your healthy weight by Lisa Hark, Phd, RD & Darwin Deen, MD ~ this is a really, really informative book.

June ’10 was…

June was a month of reconnection. By far, my favorite musical moment was the lovely Rebecca Correia at the Iron Horse. It is awful to say but every single artist that follows her on stage can’t compare. Not that they are NailsOnaChalkboard bad, but they have nothing on Rebecca. On the professional side of things June was a very frustrating month. On the personal sides I got one of the best hugs of my life (thanks, Gracie). For books, it was this:

  • Happenstance by Carol Shields ~ this should be a movie
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ~ this also should be a movie
  • The Confession of Nat Turner by William Styron ~ this was a hard one to read
  • Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World by Carol Brightman ~ a very thorough biography that helped with my insomnia
  • I Don’t Know Why I Swallowed the Fly by Jessica Maxwell ~ first year fly fishing story
  • Less Than Angels by Barbara Pym ~ a sociology experiment in a land of anthropologists
  • Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brien ~ this took some time to get into…so much so that I didn’t finish it.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald ~ I needed to lick my wounds with something enjoyable!

For LibraryThing’s Early Review program:

  • The House on Oyster Creek by Heidi Jo Schmidt ~ once I got beyond the first chapter I loved it. Beautiful writing.

For the fun of it:

  • Winning By Losing by Jillian Michaels ~ I’m most interested by the subtitle on the cover of her book, “Change You Life.” I’m up for that. Really.

Fundamental Weight Training

Sandler, David. Fundamental Weight Training: 102 Exercises to Start Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 2010.

I had many false starts trying to write a review for this book. My hesitancy directly related to my love-hate relationship with content and how it was arranged. There were many, many things to love about this book…and yet I found a few things to hate.

On the didactic side of things Fundamental Weight Training has it all. Simple weight lifting exercises for beginners that take into consideration using a professional gym, a home gym, or even just a person’s own body weight. There are simple black and white photographs to illustrate each exercise, showing correct form and posture. There is even sections on stretching, warming up and cooling down – all essential elements of working out and avoiding injury. In addition, Sandler goes above and beyond to explain gym etiquette and terminologies with a chapter called, “weight room language and protocol” (p 7). My favorite section was “Give it a Go” which gives the reader the opportunity to put lesson to life and try a series of exercises dedicated to a particular group of muscles like arms, for example.

But, here is where the hate comes in. The “Give it a Go” section assumes a person has every weight machine and accessory at his or her disposal. The exercises are a mix of free weights and machines usually found at the gym. Organization-wise, Fundamental Weight Training would have been easier for me if the “Give it a Go” section was combined with the “Take it to the Gym” and “Train at Home” sections rather than separate section.

A final frustration is, as with any exercise book, a person would need to not only memorize the names of each exercise but the proper way to perform them. Holding a book while trying to flex the a dumbbell is not all that easy. Flipping from the “Give it a Go” page to the section with the exercise can be frustrating.

All in all, I enjoyed reading Fundamental Weight Training. After reorganizing the information on my own I have a great training plan that I can take to the gym or use at home.


April ’10 Is…

April is all about getting the garage ready for gardening. April is the confidence to pack winter clothes and get the snow tires off the car. April is leaving the heat off and taking off the sweater; driving with the windows down. The birds are getting louder and the mornings are coming earlier. I’m hoping to spend some time outside reading. Here are the books I hope to conquer:

  • Affliction by Russell Banks~ In honor of two different times: March (Banks’s birth month) and April (National Sibling Week is in April).
  • Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King ~ In honor of National Dog Month
  • Downcanyon: a Naturalist Explores the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon by Ann Haymond Zwinger ~ in honor of Earth Day and nature writing
  • Belshazzar’s Daughter by Barbara Nadel ~ April (believe or not) is the best time to visit Turkey (weather-wise, political ramifications aside).
  • South Wind Through the Kitchen by Elizabeth David ~ April is National Food Month

If there is time:

  • Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory by John Feinstein ~ April is Youth Sports Safety Month

And of course, April is National Poetry Month so as usual I am trying to read as much poetry during this time frame as I can. I can’t go without saying Natalie Merchant is releasing “Leave Your Sleep” this month – a collection of poetry centered around children and childhood. Natalie once said it was poetry written for, about, and by children. I guess that sums it up nicely. One poem she included on her album was one I already read for the Book Lust Challenge: “Spring and Fall: To a Young Child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program I have an interesting (and well-timed) nonfiction: Fundamental Weight Training by David Sandler. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m hoping it will be user-friendly and very informative.


Rockin’ It Mexi Style

We didn’t end up where we haven’t been so I ran. I promised I would. (thanks for messing with me). Truth is, the running thing is seeping back into my blood. I can feel it becoming as natural as time ticking. Except for this – it’s really hard to run on a full belly of burritos! Seriously. There is this small Mexi place right by where I used to work. Everything is authentic and good, good, good. I pity the person who is afraid to bite adventurously because there isn’t a bad thing on the menu. I could stand in front of that menu, drool coming off my chin, taking forever to decide just how hungry I am. I’m always biting off more than I can chew, more than my stomach can hold. In my greed for great food I gorge.
Last night was no different. We ate and ate. Later, I literally waddled up to the gerbil cage and said a prayer before rocking 3.4 miles in 35 minutes with warm-up. I’m proud of the pace. A month ago I was barely hitting 2.5 miles in that same time. I prefered a 12 minute mile over anything faster. Now, I’m comfortable with 10.5. What a scary thought. What a great feeling. So, B~ I didn’t get the 3.5 I promised you, but I came damn close – so damn close!
Someone pissed me off today and made me shut off my phone. The anger is enough to get me running again but I have to be smart. Last night I heard my hip gnash it’s teeth in pain when I climbed the stairs. Last night I ran hard and I ran happy. I never run stupid. I’ll wait a day. The anger will still be there, but the Mexi won’t. I wonder how far I’ll get?