I am not a big reader of training guides. In fact, in my entire life, I have read exactly one half of one book on training. Just give me a schedule from Runner’s World and I’m good; no need to read a book about it.
I have never read a self-help book in my life. It just isn’t how I work.
And yet, I just finished Running Within: A guide to mastering the body-mind-spirit connection for ultimate training and racing, by Jerry Lynch and Warren Scott. It is like a combination training guide, self-help book for runners.
This is one of those books that you hear about and see on every sports shelf in every book store. I felt compelled to read it, as if I didn’t really know training unless I read this book.
If you are like me, specific sections of this book will intrigue you, but you may not be mentally engaged in the whole thing.
I agree with the book’s premise. In essence, if you improve your mind-body connection, you can improve performance. The back cover calls it “harmony of the body, mind and spirit.” I buy that.
The authors are specific that mind-over-matter doesn’t mean lack of physical training. Their theory — which I had never thought of but found intriguing — is that humans are affected by their own self-imposed limits. They compare us to the gazelle, who running from the lion never thinks, “I’m not fast enough to escape; I’d better just stop running now.”
In the introduction, they also tell the story of the bumblebee, “which, according to experts in the field of aerodynamics and space engineering, should not be capable of flying…Fortunately, this little aviator cannot read these findings.”
All of this about the book was engaging. It got me thinking especially about self-imposed limits and how runners break them every day. I never thought I could run 30 minutes straight. I never thought I could run 10 miles. I never thought I could run a marathon. I never thought I could run a 50K. All self imposed. All broken.
I like the way the book is written and organized. The authors take you through phases that build on each other. They explore the obstacles inherent in goal setting, training, racing, injury, etc. They help you apply the techniques taught at the front end of the book to scenarios throughout the rest of the book.
Some of it I have put into action, such as repeating “I love hills…they are my friends” — a direct quote from page 44. It absolutely works. I have improved my hill running every run for the last four runs.
I found myself losing interest when I starting reading about racing, competing and dealing with setbacks. While I think this section would be of interest to more competitive runners, for me winning has never been the point. I have always used competitors to push me further. I have always looked at under-performance as an opportunity to learn. I have never been disheartened by my results. Ever.
I didn’t find myself embracing visualization. This is not because I don’t believe it is effective. But it’s like yoga for me; I am too restless to learn to relax. Right now, my brain is not wired to take the time to visualize a marathon before I run it. Seems like too much work.
To whom would I recommend this book? Anyone looking for a little more, “I think I can,” in their running. I must admit, I foundnd myself saying, “I am a warrior!” from chapter 5, on my tempo run this morning. This might also find its way into the hands of someone looking for an applicable methodology for linking body-mind-spirit.
I can see myself picking this book up for a refresher when I am in a rut or before an important marathon. I think I will keep it within easy reach for that first 50-miler, that first 100-miler. No self-imposed limits here. I am a running warrior!