This post is a part of my #allaboutrunning blog link up. If you have a running blog, check out the link and join in!
© Copyright – 2014 – Athletics Illustrated
Author: Steve Magness
I purchased this book on Amazon. If you use my link I do receive a small compensation. This review was written purely out of interest in the content recommended by another coaching friend. I am in no way affiliated with Steve Magness or any entities tied to this book.
The Science of Runners is written by Steve Magness. As coach Steve Magness has coached at multiple division 1 school along with working with a handful of professional runners. Steve Magness worked alongside Alberto Salzaar for a while on the Nike Project as well. Steve completed his Master degree in Exercise science and has an in depth understanding of the scientific principal of exercising training. You can tell quickly in his book.
Overall this is a content rich book that does take some understanding of the physiological factors of training. A foundation of biology and chemistry concepts will make reading this book more user friendly. This book goes more in-depth than the average running book. Many authors of running content fairly surface level to appeal to a larger audience of readers, Steve goes much more in depth which has some postie and negative. The book is content rich and references a lot of scientific principals and studies. However the content can be very dry and read very text book like. Especially the first half. If you are looking for an easy how-to book for running this probably isn’t what you are looking for. Magness recognizes that from the start.
The book is separated into two parts. The first part focusing on the scientific principals while the second part focuses more on a training plan.
Part 1 is the portion that gets into the nitty gritty of science content. Steve does a great job referencing the limitations of our scientific understandings. He takes a moment to recognize the unknown and every changing limitation to our understandings. This can cause a disconnect between scientific principals and training practices that are most successful. Part one contains 13 chapters covering large concepts like gross motors functions all the way down to the microscopic adaptation that occur during training. Also covering important mental components that occur during racing and that can be training during workouts. Each chapter goes pretty in-depth into the content.
Part 2 is a bit more user friendly for an average runner. He lays out his plans and how to apply the principal to training. However, I would say many of these concepts would still be best fit for a runner with a solid training and racing back ground. With 22 chapters total and the final chapter are all dedicated to application of how to train with physiological factors in mind.
I did a post on Jack Daniels Running Formula and there are some definite similarities but also some key differences. I believe Jack Daniels book offers more for a variety of abilities. Jack Daniels plans are also more easy to follow as laid out in his book. However Magness does a great job of the limitation of training in zones, such as Daniels plans. Magness looks at the physiological factors as functioning much more on a spectrum. While Daniels looks at applying limited stress to a specific physiological factor. Also, Daniels puts a lot of emphasis as VO2 max, while Magness spends a portion of his book arguing against the specific emphasis.
I enjoyed the book overall and look forward to rereading so that I can further absorb some of the more in depth physiological information laid out in the first section. I would recommend this book for science-running nerds, competitive runners and coaches mostly. While I think it could be a bit content rich and dry for someone looking to read and support more of a casual hobby.