Book Review: 101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner

101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner: A Short Guide to Running Faster, Preventing Injuries, and Feeling Great
by Jason Fitzgerald
2012

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I came across this book during one of my “down the rabbit hole” link-clicking extravaganzas. I don’t remember if I was clicking away on Runner’s World or Active.com or what, but I found myself reading an article by Jason Fitzgerald and thinking that what he had written made a lot of sense (God knows what the article was about… probably something about IT bands or calf muscles and how to prevent injury). Anyway, I clicked my way to his website and saw in his bio that he’s the author of 101 Simple Ways to be a Better Runner. The book’s description on his site enticed me and I set off on a mission to get my hands on a copy. Nothing turned up in library catalogs, so I ventured to Amazon and found that it’s an e-book. At only $2.99 I figured it was a bargain so I snapped it up and read in on my phone during a few days’ worth of commutes.

Full disclosure: it took me a few days’ worth of commutes to finish it not because it was long, but because it was a little repetitive and I had a hard time keeping my attention focused on it. To be honest, I was disappointed… and glad it had only cost me 3 bucks! The chapter titles held so much promise – “Running Gear,” “Recovery and Injury Prevention,” “Motivation and Random Training Tips” – all things I wanted to know more about!

Unfortunately not much in the book was new to me – most had already been covered by the countless other “running tips for newbies”-type articles I’ve gobbled up in the past year. Plus, I noticed that several of the tips were repeated throughout the book (#11 “Run a race you’ve never run before… It’s time to break out and discover other races! Less common distances…” and #23 “Race a distance you’ve never run before” – I guess they’re slightly different, but essentially the same idea). I also raised an eyebrow when he suggested only buying shoes that cost $80 or less because “they tend to have fewer motion-limiting features that tend to increase your risk of injury.” So, I’m supposed to ignore the advice of every physical therapist and specialty running store person I’ve encountered who has steered me toward stability shoes since my ankles are wobbly as hell and need to have their motion limited? Those shoes can be found for $80 or less too. Hmm…

There were a few things that stuck out to me as bookmark-worthy, though. For some of his tips Fitzgerald provided links to video demonstrations, such as the ITB Rehab Routine, which can also be used as strength-training, not just rehab. He also linked to a video of his warm-up routine, which I found very helpful because moves like “iron cross” and “donkey kicks” meant nothing to me before I saw them demonstrated. I liked his link to his Runner’s Library as well – more books to read!

I always feel bad when I finish a book and realize I didn’t enjoy it… I feel like I want to apologize to the author, and blame my own reading tastes rather than blame the person who wrote it. I think that’s the case here – if this had been the first piece of writing I turned to as a new runner, I’m sure I would have been blown away by the plethora of tips. But really, how many tips are really that earth-shattering once you’ve been reading on the topic for a while?

All in all, the book might be worth a read for someone new to running, or for a seasoned runner who wants to reinforce things they already know. I still wish I had been able to check this book out from the library though; $2.99 seemed like a bargain at first, but – even though I’m happy to support authors and fellow runners – I’m not entirely sure it was money well spent.

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