Sunday, October 30, 2011

Book Review - RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald

I have mixed feelings about this book. I really like Matt Fitzgerald’s ideas on regulating training based on listening to the body.  However, at the same time, he did manage to really hit hard on some of my pet peeves. Overall, I highly recommend this book. However, just take chapters 8 and 9, rip them out of the book, and use them for lining the cat box.

What I liked

This book is basically about learning to listen to your body, and freeing yourself from training schedules.  I also believe, based on over 35 years of running experience, that if your body is not in sync with your training schedule, then you should adjust your training schedule.  The author covers the underlying concepts of this premise very well and in great detail.

What I disliked

The Chapter on Technique

Chapter 8 is devoted to running technique.  I’m sorry, but the author is clearly lost on this subject. He denigrates running techniques like Pose. However, to help form his argument he quotes the Pose study that I’ve criticized in a previous post A Critique of One Study of Pose Running Technique. Just the fact that he quoted this study immediately put his credibility in question on this subject, because either it means that he didn’t read the study or he didn't understand it. Either way, it makes it impossible for me to take anything else he says about technique seriously.  Furthermore, in the next chapter, the author goes on to refer to himself as a “… brittle runner driven to the brink of madness by reoccurring bodily mutiny.”  Heavy sigh, any runner who is getting injured on a regular basis, needs to have his or her technique corrected.  If the author doesn’t understand this, then he should not be giving advice on running technique.

The Chapter on Injury

Chapter 9 is called “The Gift of Injury". The title alone made my blood pressure rise. Injury is not a gift. Injury means that you have done something wrong.  Reoccurring injury means that your technique needs correction.  Injury may not be a gift, but it is a learning opportunity. Unfortunately, if you are regularly getting injured, then you have not learned the lessons your body is trying to teach you. Do not try to make peace with your injuries by getting philosophical about them. That's a lazy cop-out.  Figure out what the problem is and correct it.

Quoting Flawed Studies

The author quotes a lot of scientific studies to make his arguments. There is nothing wrong with quoting studies, but only if you are certain that you are quoting well designed studies.  It is my opinion that one is obliged to make sure that a study is worthy of being quoted before quoting it. Since I already know that the author quoted at least one obviously and deeply flawed study, I now have to question any point he makes based on scientific research.

Bottom Line

Get this book and read it. A lot of important concepts and ideas are discussed very well. Just do not take the chapters on technique and injury seriously, and do no assume that the author is quoting good science.

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