Book Review: Science of Running: Analyze Your Technique, Prevent Injury, Revolutionize Your Training

0

© Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated

Title: Science of Running: Analyze Your Technique, Prevent Injury, Revolutionize Your Training

Author: Chris Napier, PhD

Published: Feb. 4, 2020 – Dorling Kindersley Publishing (DK Publishing)
Penguin Random House

Language: English

ISBN-10: 978—1 – 4654-8957-9

Pages: 224

If you have run for long enough, you will have been met with injury, niggles, irritations, tightness and muscular as well as gastrointestinal cramps. You will have been banged up, tossed around and have run through storms of fatigue and with tailwind-blowing gales of finely tuned fitness; you will have seen it all.

During that span, you will have picked up all sorts of correct and incorrect physiological jargon from professionals, running friends, Google-searched bro-science as well as real science. You will have become a running encyclopedia of information of various degrees of quality.

Run long enough, and you will have limped into the physio’s office to tell him or her all about the (name the niggled body part) abductor, piriformis, sciatica, gastroc, soleus, patella, IT band – you know the drill – like an expert.

Now runners new and gnarled veterans alike can have a reference manual good enough to put their physio out of work – well, sort of.

If you are new to running, this book will save you all sorts of agony. Read it.

Science of Running is now the reference text of physiology and anatomy for runners of all abilities. Author Chris Napier PhD, with a little help from his friends – see the appendix (not the lymphatic tissue one – the one in the book) and the Masthead on Page 4 for the lists of his support crew.

The book goes deep (but in plain language), into anatomy, to help the reader understand the physiology and the jargon that comes up from time to time.

The accompanying illustrations by Arran Lewis are CGI-like and accurate as well as colour-coded to indicate which body part is being referenced. It is said that one can be text illiterate, but no one is pictorially illiterate – the images in Science of Running make absolutely clear what the words on the page are indicating.

Science of Running demonstrates how running involves and affects every part of the human body.

The book breaks down the various systems: cardiovascular, neuromuscular, skeletal muscle among others in an understandable way.

Napier and company scientifically show what’s taking place at every stage of the runner’s gait (stride). He visits common injuries and indicates how to correct the causes.

Thirty-plus exercises are stripped down to which muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments are incorporated to improve running performance and injury avoidance.

Napier takes us into the latest science on hydration, nutrition and provides hundreds of training programs.

If you have run long enough, you will find your head nodding in agreement as you turn the pages. And, by the way, Napier points out that the reason your head doesn’t just fall forward is because of the nuchal ligament in the neck, specifically designed for humans to run long – baby, we were born to run.

Many common injuries for runners are explained including piriformis issues, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, calf, and achilles pulls and patella tendon pain. There are recovery exercises provided, however, more importantly, there is an abundance of strengthening exercises and drills to help the runner proactively stay in front of any injuries and competitors alike.

Publishing training schedules can be fodder for criticism. To follow a schedule blindly without context or without the feedback of a critical thinking coach – can lead to under training, overtraining or just inappropriate timing of a peak. Kenny Rogers said it best in the country song, The Gambler, “You got to know when to walk away and know when to run.”

The schedules do follow solid training principles – but hire a coach!

Jeremiah (Jerry) Ziak, who helped with the book, as the saying goes, has forgotten more than some of the readers will ever know about training, only he hasn’t actually forgotten much if anything.

Publishers love schedules and readers demand them; enough said.

Otherwise, the book is highly recommended for all levels of runners, coaches and new-to-running sport medicine practitioners.