Posted: January 8, 2015 by smrtnsasy in Runnin' & Readin'

by: Richard Westbrook

            My bookshelves are crammed with an assortment of books divided into genres. There are biographies, educational books, mysteries, novels, travel books, westerns, non-fiction, science-fiction, humor, philosophy, religion just to name a few. Some of those are broken down into sub-sections. Such is one of my larger subject areas, that of running.

            The “Running” section is broken down into sub-sections like biographies, coaching, fitness, events, marathons and ultras, training, novels, philosophy, cross-country, track and field just to hit the high spots. It is the largest single section on my shelves. I am constantly amazed at how much can be written on the subject. The amount written has to rival, if not surpassing, any other sport. And, the books just keep on being published. So many books, so little time.

            Enveloped within those sections are books offering up everything one would need to know about running either for the beginner or for the veteran runner. Books such as Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running and his follow-up to that complete work, The Second Book of Running are jammed in there right along with more complete stuff like the Runner’s World Complete Book of Running. If that is not complete enough, then there is The Principles of Running by Amby Burfoot which is a very good piece of work. That is accompanied by the earlier offering, by approximately twenty-years, The Official Book of Running by Bill Emmerton who was an ultra-runner.  Then there is The Practical Runner by Robert J. Geline; Running A To Z by Joe Henderson; Beginner’s Running Guide by Hal Higdon; and to bring everything you need to know about running to a close, there is The Last Word On Running by Richard Karlgaard. I guess one could read that last book and surpass all the previous works and still know everything one would need to know.

            Some of these books, like The Principles of Running, are short and to the point as if the reader would want to read less and run more and would want his or her information straight forward. There is a lot of good stuff in the book’s 165 pages. A lot more wordy is the Beginner’s Running Guide at 340 pages, but, maybe, a beginner would need more information. Still, 340 pages?

            All of these books were published a few years ago, some longer than you have been running. But, a more recent book is out there, and it is one of the better, if not best, of all the aforementioned books. It was published in 2011. Within its 219 pages are items of high importance for any runner, whether the runner realizes it or not. After reading The Little Red Book of Running by Scott Douglas, the runner should be better educated and wiser which should translate into better and more enjoyable running.

            The author, Scott Douglas, is a senior editor of Running Times magazine and is an experienced runner himself. He gives a brief introduction covering his progression from starting running in the ninth grade; continuing through high school and college and into the real world after college. He states that the book covers three decades of things learned from his running and his curiosity about running. The results of this learning is in the “nuggets” presented in this great little book. Per Scott Douglas, “I hope you find its distilled wisdom useful in making your running more enjoyable, satisfying, and a regular highlight in your life.” To the runner who can and does read, this will be one of the most valuable works on running that you can possess.  

            The value of the book is polished by the information being arranged in brief “Tips” that can be read quickly and, more importantly, remembered. Their brevity enhances the ability to retain the information. This can help a runner immensely when being challenged by frustration, drudgery, injury, or competition.

            There are 250 tips. These are arranged in “Parts.” Part One is “Running More: 45 Tips to Help You Safely and Successfully Increase Your Daily and Weekly Mileage.” The beginning sets the tone of the book and gives insight to the attitude of the author. These are the first two tips which leaks the wisdom gained from the author’s experiences. The opening statements of each will put us right on track to the book’s goals.

            The first tip is “A Crucial Opening Thought” in which the first statement is, “There are no junk miles.” After wrapping your mind around that tip, you read the second tip which is “A Crucial Second Thought.” Your mind will do a somersault after reading its opening statement. That would be, “Let me be clear from the outset: I’m not saying that more running is always better, either for your running performance or the rest of your life.” After reading the explanation following the first statements in tip one and two, you will be on your way to a good read followed by better running…if you learn from the book.

            The following parts are Part Two, “Running Faster: 63 Tips to Help Build Your Speed, Even If You’re Never Going to Race.” These 63 tips are chock full of vital information in very brief forms that will work in making the runner faster. They stretch from the reasons to run faster to a mantra used to help in the race.         

            Part Three is “Running Injury-Free: 50 Tips to Help You Avoid, Treat, and Beat Injuries.” Since most runners will suffer some type of injury that will require time off from running, this section can be a super valuable. It covers some typical running injuries and then focuses on prevention. This could be the most practical section of the book.

            Part Four is “Running Consistently: 43 Tips to Help You Run More Often for the Rest of Your Life.” Part Three is the most practical in the book, and Part Four is the most important in a philosophical vein. It will tell the runner how to do that which the runner wants to do the rest of his or her life. Even though it is based on a philosophical foundation, the section also has a lot of practical tips.

            The last part is Part Five which is “Running Miscellany: 49 Tips on Shoes and Safety, Attitude and Altitude, and Everything Else That Matters.” The name of the section is self-explanatory. It is the service manual part for the runner. If the runner has a problem with his or her running, it is probably addressed here.

            The book has its forward written by Amby Burfoot. He is an Editor at Large for Runner’s World magazine and was the 1968 Boston Marathon Champion. In it he stresses the simplicity of running and the role that The Little Red Book of Running serves in this quest. The book closely parallels his own book with a focus on simplicity. Burfoot’s The Principles of Running along with The Little Red Book of Running would be great and valued additions to any runner’s bookshelf. Following the tenants in both books will insure better, more enjoyable, and longer lasting running for the serious runner.

            And that, friends is what all runners should work toward…A simple approach to a life-long pursuit that will make that life better. Both books will help serve that purpose. But, if only one has to be chosen, then it should be The Little Red Book of Running.


                                                                                       “Simplicity’s the real challenge.”  

                                                                                          Nighthawk Cummings

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