Yesterday I shared a post with a few of my favorite running books.
I have to decided to start my book reviews with a well-known and very popular book, Daniels Running Formula. Jack Daniels is a well respected coach, with a laundry list of successful programs and athletes who have trained under him. Runners world called Daniels, ” the world’s greatest coach.” Jack Daniels laid the foundation for structuring training paces based on current fitness levels.
Daniels Running formula refers to a runners VDOT. VDOT is a way of measuring an individuals fitness and ability. For the everyday runner, the easiest way to calculate VDOT is to use a recent race time. Daniels book includes charts that will break down a variety of distances, race times and the corresponding VDOT. The athlete can then use the assigned VDOT to guide their training paces.
Daniels book begins by laying out what he refers to as “training essentials.” He takes the time to explain the scientific underpinning of his training philosophies and how each run should have a purpose. He emphasizes the importance of training based on where you are, currently as a runner, as opposed to training based on an arbitrarily chosen goal. This was an important and eye opening component for myself as a newer runner. When I first read his book. Daniels emphasizes training specificity, which is a key element of his training zones. Along with looking at factors like diminishing returns on applied stress, stimulating the appropriate stress to cause adaptations with out overloading the body unnecessarily.
The book then discusses the different zones and reasoning for each pace. This section correlates with charts in the book matching the runners VDOT to their specific pace for each zone. The training paces include; marathon, tempo, easy, hard, interval and repetition. When reading through, it can be sort of overwhelming with all of the different paces. However, when you actually begin implementing its fairly easy.
The last portion of the book includes the training plans. These plans are a bit different as they not are laid out into daily workouts. Instead, he includes weekly mileage along with quality session which are the back bone of his coaching. For some, the flexibility of these kinds of plan are welcome and enjoyed. For others, however, it feels daunting and they dislike taking the additional time to lay out the structure of the week. I love this type of layout.
I know a lot of runners who feel that Daniels plans are quite aggressive and have gotten injured. I would note that application of the plans is often the problem. If you are looking at starting one of his plans, I think it is imperative you have already built a solid mileage base and began blending in tempo runs before even starting his plans. I also notice runners who are using the plans with out taking into consideration the philosophy behind the plans. Which usually ends up with runners implementing them incorrectly.
This is Daniels third version, there have been some changes and variations among his books. The main ideas are there. The first book was much more geared toward higher level/elite runners. The reading was more information and read much more textbook-like. The updated version have more plans that are built for newer and emerging runners. The reading is also more fluid and less dry.
My overall opinion, Daniels Running formula is a staple in my running and reading bag of tricks. A knowledgeable runner could implement his training plans successfully. I think you get into a bit of the grey area with newer runners or runners who struggle with holding themselves back in workouts. I see the zones as guidelines, but much more importantly, is understanding the purpose of the workout and getting that specific stimulus from the workouts, Understanding these philosophies is much more important that following a pre-made plan or pace. This is a great book for coaches.
I know many runners have read or tried Daniels plans, what was your impression? Check back later this week for more book reviews.
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