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Having read, liked, and reviewed Run for Life's sibling, Bike for Life, four years ago, and being as much runner as cyclist (triathlete, actually), I feel compelled to review the new kid. My take: It's as good or better than the old one.
Run for Life talks about a very serious subject--how to get fitter than ever and stay that way to age 100--in a very entertaining way. As a result, I raced through this 300+ page marathon of tips, clinics, interviews, magazine-style feature stories like it was a 5k. Its basic thesis is both radical and logical: Author Roy Wallack, a seriously fit 52-year-old with a wild streak of George Plimpton in him, says you can run into old age--but only if you DO NOT continue with your regular, steady-state, regimen of 65% VO2max endorphin-high running. That wears you out, causes injuries, and does nothing to fight the breakdown of your muscles, which starts around age 35-40, leaving you on the sidelines for good by 65 or 70.
Sure, you can argue that steady-state running isn't the cause of our decline, but a fact' is a fact that most running careers are over by 65. So it's worth listening when Wallack argues that, to blow through the tape on your own two feet at age 100, you have make some changes; cut out most long runs and replace them with super hard, short intervals that build-up muscle with human growth hormone, stop all heel striking (a great "soft running" tutorial here), hit the weights with great intensity, crosstrain, stretch and do posture drills (good pictures here), and run a lot in the pool. And, to show you that he isn't just making this stuff all up, Wallack interviews world-class runners who are doing all these things themselves with great success. Would you believe that the Kenyan woman who set the world record for the half-marathon last year spends three hours a week running in the pool? That's one of many examples.
Besides his "run less, run strong, run faster, run straight" plan, Run for Life has wonderful interviews with 10 Big Names of the sport, like Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, and Rod Dixon, who all talk about their lives in running in very colorful ways, and offer great advice for staying fit as you age. An interview with a funny 84-year-old, 3-hour marathoner named John Cahill give me a couple giant belly laughs. An interview of Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the father of "Aerobics," is quite valuable, in that the 77-year Cooper distances himself from his "more is better" philosophy of the 1970's and appears to agree with the basics of Wallack's plan.
The RFL plan seems radical, but only at first. After Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (which are about Wallack's funny adventure at the Boston Marathon, where he learned about "soft" running, and then a tutorial explaining it ), I felt like Cooper: I had to agree. If you don't EVER want to hang up your running shoes--I'm 47, and I don't!--this plan seems like a very good place to start. Even if you don't care about living to 100, if you are a runner this is a great reference tool and a very enjoyable read. I will definitely buy this book to give as gifts.