Last Updated on January 30, 2022 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP
Beginner runners take heed: your “everything you need to know about running, even the stupid stuff you might be too embarrassed to ask” handbook has arrived!
I recently had the opportunity to review The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners, by Jennifer Van Allen, Bart Yasso, and Amby Burfoot. I figured it would be another “how to” book with the same general “couch to 5K” type plan you see all over the internet. As the press release describes: “Whether starting from scratch, or trying to reclaim a long-lost sense of vitality, The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners has all the information a newbie needs to start a healthier and happier life.“
Sounds pretty basic, right? I was thrilled to discover this book was so much more than a bunch of training plans.
Broken down into 4 easy to follow subsections, the book reads more like an easy to follow “coffee table” book rather than a long winded text book. It is the type of book you can sit down with, read one short section for reference, and put back down. The writing is informative and not overwhelming or overly scientific.
The book covers the obvious basics, such as:
– Five training plans to start walking, start running, run nonstop, run faster, and run longer.
– No-fail weight-loss strategies.
– Ideas for meals and snacks to eat before you run, on the road, and after you’re done.
– Injury prevention tips including a guide on which pains to run through and which pains demand surrender.
– Inspirational stories from people who used running as a tool to lose weight, stop smoking, overcome illness and heartache, and manage chronic pain.
It also covers the not so obvious, but incredibly informative (and sometimes entertaining) topics such as:
– Side stitches and blisters, what they are and how to prevent them.
– Should I take vitamins?
– Hydration bathroom checks – what color should my urine be?
– How to put a race timing chip on a shoe.
– Not just how to run a fartlek or long run or hill repeats, but WHY you should do them.
– Close encounters with mean dogs
– The cheese bar: which cheeses get a thumbs up or a thumbs down in the healthy runner department.
– Can I drink alcohol the night before a run?
– How to read food labels
There are even shopping lists, a running terms dictionary(BQ? PR? LSD? All in there!) , and of course…training plans.
My favorite chapter of the book, and one I was very excited to see, is “Motivation: Getting Going and Sticking With It.” A topic that so many runners, beginners and experienced alike, often struggle with, but is hardly mentioned in many training books. It covers common motivation killers like “feeling overwhelmed by the distance you still have to do” and “feeling demoralized because someone passed you”, as well as solutions on how to push through these problems.
I was excited to review and add this book to my arsenal, hoping that it would have helpful tips for me to pass on to my beginner runner clients. Truth be told, it’s such a thorough and informative read (without being overwhelming or confusing) that it would probably just be easier for me to just hand this book to a client and say “here, read this.”
So in other words, I would highly recommend this book if you are a beginner runner, looking to start running, or want to give a motivating, informative book to a potential runner.
About the Authors:
JENNIFER VAN ALLEN is a special projects editor for Runner’s World and a running coach certified by USATF and RRCA. She manages The Starting Line, an online training program for beginners.
BART YASSO is the author of My Life on the Run and is the chief running officer at Runner’s World.
AMBY BURFOOT, Runner’s World editor-at-large and winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, has run more than 105,000 lifetime miles (and counting).
PAMELA NISEVICH BEDE is a sports nutrition expert and co-owner of Swim, Bike, Run, Eat!, LLV, a nutrition consulting firm.
Disclaimer: a copy of The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners was provided to me at no cost, however, all opinions and reviews expressed are my own.