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Friday, March 25, 2011

The Lure of "Lore"

When I attended the two day RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Coaching Certification last August, two books were recommended to us by the instructors:  Jack Daniels Running Formula and Lore of Running by Tim Noakes.  Last month, I was thumbing through my coaching manual and came upon my chicken scratch, recommending these texts.  Within minutes, I had ordered both on

They arrived at my doorstep a few weeks ago.  Jack Daniels book was a fraction of the size of "Lore", the latter being almost two inches thick and containing 930 pages (which includes the index).  Normally, I am the kind of person who tackles the easiest stuff first, thinking I'll feel more accomplished and motivated to get to the big ones.  This time, I decided to reverse my strategy.  I started with "Lore".

Let me say that just toting this book around is a workout.  I feel stronger just lugging it to and from my house everyday.  I was actually using it for bicep curls the other day. 

Feel the burn baby.  Oh yeah.

I'm not in a position to review the book yet as I'm only (yeah, I know, "only") on page 411.  However, I don't have to be finished with it to say that it is uber comprehensive.  Some of the finer points I've noticed thus far:

  1. Part I deals with the Physiology and Biochemistry of Running.  The first chapter is entitled Muscle Structure and Function.  Here, you will read all about Myofibrils, Sarcomeres, Myofilaments and other big words that you'll probably see on "Jeopardy".  This is the shortest chapter, containing only 19 pages.  As Noakes says, "the bulk of this chapter was devoted to describing how muscles are made up, how they contract to produce movement, the different muscle fiber types that exist, and how this influences athletic ability and perhaps longevity and susceptibility to various diseases".  And you thought it was just about putting one foot in front of the other.
  2. Chapter Two delves into Oxygen Transport and Running Economy.  Here, the author focuses on the relationship between oxygen transport through the body and exercise performance.  It's over three times as long as chapter one.  This was about the time where I decided to read it with a highlighter, coloring the segments that I thought were most important to remember.  I'm not a detail person, as a general rule; that is to say that I tend to "glaze over" when things get technical.  However, it's important that I absorb as much of this as I can, so I'm taking it seriously.  Sometimes that means reading a sentence two or three times.  I can handle it.
  3. Next, we read about Energy Systems and Running Performance.  Having been employed in the fitness industry for over 17 years, not all of this information was new to me.  I had to learn about how the body uses food in my A&P class.  I also had to learn about carbohydrate, fat and protein in order to decode food labels for my clients.  But, Noakes does a great job of reviewing the important aspects of exercise-related metabolism specific to athletes. 
  4. Temperature Regulation During Exercise wraps up the first segment of this book.  It's 80 pages long.  And just so you know, I am not reading the large type edition.  It's 80 pages of what looks like 8 or 9 point font.  This chapter deals with factors that affect heat balance and how to prevent heat-impaired performance.  Noakes also explains the difference between heatstroke and other heat-related disorders such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and exercise-associated collapse.  Truly, I didn't know much about this topic.  However, he confirms what most runners know already:  it's not so much the heat as it is the HUMIDITY. 
  5. Currently, I'm in the middle of Part II.  This is where you get into Training Basics, which is easier reading.  It's also the part where, I suspect, most people reading this book will want to start with.  Chapter 5 tells the reader how to develop a training foundation, which lends itself nicely to the novice runner.  The author does give you permission to skip this part if you want more specific training details for 10 K's, Half-Marathons, Marathons and Ultramarathons, but I didn't.  This book is a challenge.  I can almost hear it whispering, "come on, I dare you.  Read me cover to cover."  I've never been one to resist a dare.  I'm in the middle of Learning From the Experts, which is the title of chapter 6.  And, am I learning a lot.

    So, there you have it.  Even if I stopped reading it right here and now, I can honestly say that it was well worth the $19.33 that I paid for it.  The tagline on the front cover says it all, "For the serious runner or coach, this book is a must." -- Runner's World   
Besides, knowledge is power.  That is the lure of "Lore".

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