Run by Feel - Matt Fitzgerald

I like it when people tell me that things are much simpler than others make out. I liked this book immediately, every page seemed to just say cut out the complexities of what you have done before and keep it really simple.

There are may great books out there suggesting that we are "Born to Run". Meaning that running is something that we have evolved to do (and evolved out of doing - having read a lot of Dawkins I know that my use of the word "evolve" is pretty sloppy here). Some of my favourites; Survival of the Fittest demonstrates humans ability to endure physical activity such as running long distance especially in the heat. Why We Run is my favourite and shows how Humans really are endurance kings in the animal world and the famous Born to Run further shouts that running is natural and that our feet are marvels of biological engineering that allow us to do this. 

This goes one stage further (I think) and suggests that running is an innate ability in humans and hence we learn to do it naturally. When we are kids we don't get the set squares and protractors out to be told how to run efficiently, we just do.

There are a lot of good things I have taken from this book so far. Simply put the key to developing a good running technique are;

  • Run lots
  • Run fast sometimes
  • Run when fatigued sometimes

Well if we are "born to run" then how come we all get injured? There are two main reasons suggested;

  • Nowadays we run in big "supportive" shoes that force us to heel strike and cause injury
  • Nowadays we all sit on our arses a lot more, causing tightness in our hips/core and that leads to other injuries when we run

So he adds  2 footnotes which are;

  • Wear the smallest heeled shoes that you are comfortable in - ie don't go barefoot if it feels bad
  • Look after your hips with stretching/yoga etc

Running is a neuro-muscular exercise and the more of it you do the better you'll get. I get told quite a bit about "junk" miles but from my point of view if I like running and can use it to get from A to B then no miles are junk at all. High mileage is the biggest predictor of race performance.

Running fast (sometimes) forces you to run efficiently as there is no other way.

Running when fatigued is something I am familiar with and

The shoes one is an interesting debate, the minimalist movement is gaining ground and now all major shoes manufacturers are offering a "minimal" trainer (at far from minimal price I have noticed).

There were a lot of other gems in this and would definitely suggest reading it. It's funny because his previous book "Brain training for runners" finished off with the usual appendices of training plans for you to stick to. This time he suggests you wing it a lot more. So for example if you are supposed to be doing a hard run but don't feel like it's working then you can ease back and call it a recovery run. Vice versa if you are running easy and feel like smashing it then you should go for it, so long as you get a good combination of speed/recovery/long/hill etc runs in.

Great stuff about the finish line mentality and how records are broken.

Anyway, a great read and quite refreshing that is does not prescribe to tell oyu exactly what you should do and how far you should run every day to achieve your race goals.

Not that I condone proper "training" or anything like that :)