Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Review of Tread Lightly

A few weeks ago I finally got around to reading the book Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury-Free Running by Bill Katovsky and Peter Larson. I'll admit, when I started reading the book, I had fairly low expectations. However, I'm glad to say that my expectations were misguided. This book is an excellent overview of the science to date on this subject.

Many people in the running community regularly misquote scientific studies that they either didn't read or didn't understand. These people often seem to be simply reading the last paragraph of the conclusion and nothing more. Unfortunately, many of them are Ph.Ds in a related field, or medical professional like Podiatrists. Well the authors of this book are NOT guilty of these scientific sins. What I liked most about this book is that authors, when quoting studies, were very careful to do several important things.
  1. They evaluated the study in the context of other studies
  2. They pointed out potential flaws or problems with the study
  3. They looked carefully at what one could really conclude from the study
  4. They pointed out any questions the study may have raised
In other words, they did a great job of explaining the science behind running, pointing out its limitations, and explaining the confounding issues.

Some people might be disappointed that this book did not offer a concrete method or way to go about improving one's running technique. I was actually happy that the authors didn't venture far into this territory. I've been following Peter Larson's blog Runblogger for a while now, and I think he has some generally good and interesting ideas about running technique, but I also think, because he sticks very closely to the science, he has not reached the point of extrapolating what he knows into a fully blown conceptualization of running technique.

Bottom line, this book is an excellent overview of the science on running, and I highly recommend it.

Further reading
Your Pose Running Coach's Blog: A Critique of One Study of Pose Running Technique
Your Pose Running Coach's Blog: The Use of Scientific Studies in Blog Posts
Your Pose Running Coach's Blog: Book Review - RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald

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