The Cool Impossible: The Coach from "Born to Run" Shows How to Get the Most from Your Miles-And From Yourself (Anglais) Relié – 7 mai 2013
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Description du produit
You In Glorious Jackson Hole
Okay. enough about me and the near past.
This is about you and your near future. You, the athlete—and I use that word with full consideration and intent. Because wherever you are in your running life, you can make the choice to be an athlete. You can adopt that mind-set and make it your own defining essence. Being an athlete is not something you’re “born with.” That’s a misconception, a myth, really, that is all too often also an impediment—or, even worse, an excuse. Being an athlete is a choice. And making that choice, taking up that mind-set, is the step that allows you to move toward a new level of achievement. That’s what this book is about. And that’s what I’m going to ask of you.
The truth is, athleticism is awareness. That simple phrase is at the core of my program. When I say, “Athleticism is awareness,” what I mean is that to be an athlete means you are someone who is aware of your form and technique; aware of how you move your body; aware of your effort level, of your breathing pattern; aware of what you eat (and don’t eat); and, most important, aware of what you think (and don’t think).
We will go deeper into that idea later, but first we need to address the physical side of things. I believe firmly that the mind follows the body. And when the mind follows a good body, it gets to the right place. So that is where we will begin the journey—your journey—to the Cool Impossible.
To get started, I am going to ask you to look at things maybe a little differently than you’ve looked at them in the past. I’m going to introduce you to some new ideas and concepts and ask you to do some new things that will help to catapult your running to another level and help you get everything that you want out of every mile. Along the way, I am going to challenge you to go above and beyond what you think is possible for yourself, for your running, and, I hope, even your life.
And to be clear, this process, this challenge—this opportunity—is open to every runner. This book is for you whether you’re a beginner, or a veteran hoping to reclaim that beginner’s enthusiasm and sense of possibility; whether you’re a dedicated competitor, gearing your efforts to improvements in time and placings at key races, or a recreational runner, excited about the social aspects of the sport; whether you’re someone whose running has been interrupted or compromised by chronic injury, or an enthusiastic experimenter inspired by visions of barefoot running, the Tarahumara Indians, and other adventures. This commitment to awareness will—like Frost’s choice between two roads diverging in a wood—make all the difference.
One element of what you will learn later is how important and powerful a role visualization plays in performance. The mind follows the body and, in turn, performance follows the mind. But harnessing that sequence, controlling it and making it work for us to carry us to where we want to go, is a challenge—and one that often goes unrecognized. We have lost touch with the art of daydreaming. I don’t mean the kind of daydreaming that comes after a few hours of surfing vacation Web sites or buying that lottery ticket. We’re all pretty good at that. No, I mean the kind of daydreaming that can help guide our performance and prepare us for the journey to the Cool Impossible.
So let’s give it a try. Let’s do it. Right now. Rather than simply telling you what’s going to come in the chapters ahead—laying out the programs and the protocols, explaining the mechanics, the physiology and the psychology—I’m going to give you a chance to live it. I wake up each day in Jackson thrilled anew to find myself in what is truly a running and adventure-sport paradise, living the kind of life that I once could only imagine. But that’s the point: I did imagine it, and now it’s as real as the vast, jagged face of the Teton Range that beckons me each time I step out of my house, or the bear that ambles across the trail ahead of me on my morning run, or the lung-searing challenge of an uphill sprint at nine thousand feet. I want to make it just as real for you.
I want you to imagine that you are on your way to visit me in Jackson Hole for an intense seven-day running camp. This one-on-one camp will be like no other running you’ve ever done and will introduce you to and immerse you in every element of my training program. Jackson Hole is the real deal, the true Wild West. It’s here that you can find your own frontier and be shocked into a new reality. I am hoping this is what you expect from your visit and from this book, because it is what I want for you.
So, here you are. . . . It’s been a short flight from Denver or Salt Lake City (or wherever you made your connection, because, face it, unless you’ve got a private jet you’re not flying direct to Jackson). But it is a leap into another realm. The plane drops down out of the clouds and suddenly there it all is, a landscape so sweeping and majestic that it makes you almost laugh as you press your face to the little square of the window: the mountains, saw edged and brilliantly snowcapped, marching out to the horizon; the Snake River running its sinuous course through the valleys; the burnished tans and greens of the headlands. We are most certainly not in Kansas (in real or metaphorical terms) anymore.
You can see immediately why they call it Jackson Hole. The floor of the valley sits at sixty-five hundred feet, but the Tetons on the western side soar like a wall to thirteen thousand feet, and the Gros Ventre Range to the east tops out near twelve thousand feet. Trappers and hunters who found their way to the region in the early nineteenth century must have felt they were literally going over the edge as they climbed down the steep canyons into the vast encircled expanse. It still feels that way today, as the plane drops down, far below the peaks, and settles in for a landing at Jackson Hole Airport, which, with its low-slung rustic design, seems to blend in with the flat expanse of the valley.
No Jetway here. You grab your bag, running shoes dangling from the handle, and exit the plane directly onto the tarmac. You take a deep breath. The air is exhilarating and the sky astoundingly wide and close. As you follow the concrete path toward the terminal, you turn to look at the mountains, and it’s like they’re right there in your face. Your eye traces the wild, zigzag lines of the peaks—dominated by the central massif, the truly majestic Grand Teton—and follows the canyons cutting up in deep, dark Vs between the rises. You try to imagine running there, following a trail up to the Teton Crest. It seems like another world. Another you, perhaps.
Welcome to Jackson: That sort of spectacular vista, with its promise and its challenge, is everywhere here. It is also the reason why you’re here. In the next few days you’re going to get a firsthand taste of all that Jackson has to offer, and at the same time an introduction to my running program, a taste of what I’ll be asking you to do, and a glimpse of where these new elements and new ways of thinking can take you—in your running and in your life.
We meet outside the airport. I’m the shaved-headed, skinny guy with rounded shoulders and a cheery smile. I’m happy to see you, after all. I bundle you into my truck and off we go, windows down.
On the ride into town from the airport we pass buffalo—yep, they’re roaming—beside the road, as well as an elk framed against the sky above a ridge, the same ridge on which we’ll put in some quality miles in the days to come. We also pass a trio of cyclists, pulling big gears as they roll down the shoulder not that much slower than we’re driving. You’ll learn that it’s impossible to go for long in Jackson Hole without seeing someone in motion: biking, running, hiking, paddling on the streams, skiing the trails in winter. The most adventure sports– happy town in America—Chris had it right.
But on this first night, before we move into action, there’s time to sit and talk, to get a sense of where you’re coming from, and where we’re going to be going in the course of the next seven days—and beyond. Over a steak salad or grilled trout at the Snake River Brewery, we’ll talk about a lot of things. About Jackson, and the history of the valley. About the Wild West. About skiing at lunchtime and about what twenty-below really feels like. About crazy real-estate prices and about mountain lions. Behind it all, of course, will be that sense of anticipation, of an adventure about to be embarked upon. Maybe you’re a little tired or fried from the travel, but you’re feeling a buzz, too, that tingle that every runner knows that precedes a big test. And so we’ll start talking about the aspects of your upcoming training. Since I’m a bottom-up kind of guy, we’ll start with your feet.
Don’t worry, we’re not going all Barefoot Ted here. My Copper Canyon race companion, and one of the pioneers of barefoot running, has a lot of wisdom to share, but I consider shoeless running a tool—something that can help build strength and improve form for all runners—rather than as an objective in and of itself, or even, as some would have it, a lifestyle. Remember, the Tarahumara sport those huaraches, not bare feet, across their rocky trails. For now, we’re going to concentrate on strengthening the feet, and it’s crucial that you can feel—really feel—what we’re doing.
Take your shoes off. It’s okay—we’re in Jackson here; you won’t be the first at this establishment. Now look down at those feet, maybe a little pale below the sock line, the toes spreading and gripping the tile floor. For all the usual focus on leg strength, flexibility, and core fitness, when it comes to running, everything springs, quite literally, from those two kind of funny-looking appendages. Just as a race car, no matter how big an engine it has or how sophisticated a suspension, depends on four small patches of tire on asphalt to get around a track, a runner’s performance and health are rooted in the actions of the foot, with its twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Having strong feet promotes proper muscle usage all the way up the leg and throughout the core, ultimately creating the muscle equilibrium that is so important to successful running, and that’s what we’ll be working on throughout your training.
Maybe you’re imagining a gym full of machines and clanking iron; maybe you sneaked a peek down at your biceps last time you raised your glass, or you’re trying to remember how much you hoisted the last time you did heavy leg squats. But strength training is not about how much you can lift. That’s not the challenge. The challenge is to have an open mind about what the objective is. Strength training is about muscle equilibrium—about making sure that the big, prime-mover muscles in the body don’t overwhelm the smaller supporting muscles, pulling the entire system out of balance and compromising efficiency. It’s more important how well we move and how efficient we are in using our strength than how much weight we can toss around.
And the amazing thing is that this muscle equilibrium, this athletic strength, will help you to run better. It will also prevent the all too familiar aches and pains and stiffness that can sometimes seem like the unavoidable price of running.
Let me be very clear about this: These aches, these pains, they are avoidable. You may have been conditioned to think otherwise, but over the course of our time together, I will show you different. With strength, muscle equilibrium, good form, and a proper training program, we can eliminate those common running ailments, have more fun, and achieve tremendous performance enhancements.
Easy, now; I don’t want to overwhelm you. Let’s pay the check, take a walk down Town Square. It’s not Times Square, New York City, but what we lack in glittering lights, we make up for in quiet charm and a backdrop that takes the breath away.
I want to know some more about you. If you’re shy, don’t be. This is important. Before I begin coaching any athlete, I like to get a detailed sense of where he is in his running career. We runners love to talk running. It’s our currency of exchange, as natural as putting one foot in front of the other. So let’s talk about past races, the good ones and the ones that kicked our butts. Let’s talk about workouts and recent long runs; tell me about your favorite route and how fast you’ve covered it recently. And in the process I’ll get a sense of your experience level and where you are in your training. And I’ll ask you—just as you no doubt are asking yourself—what your goals are. What do you want out of your running—from the season ahead, in terms of a specific race or training goal, to a lifetime ahead on the road or trails? If you are not a racer, we can discuss how races can personally empower you and foster a sense of adventure in your running.
Okay, that’s a lot of talk and very little action. It’d be nice to grab a beer together—or, if that’s not your thing, a coffee or tea. But this first night, it shouldn’t be a late one. We’ve got a whole week ahead of us, and it’s time to turn in. I’ll file away what I’ve gleaned about your running past and your goals for the future.
Back at your hotel, you settle in to sleep, your window open to the cool mountain air and all that awaits outside on the trails of Jackson.
An hour after sunrise, the steep slopes of the Tetons are sharply etched in soaring lines of light and shadow, and the rolling foothills are rising into burnished greens and gold. We meet at the Cache Creek Canyon trailhead. A popular hiking, biking, and cross-country trail that runs along Cache Creek close to downtown Jackson, this will be an ideal setting for a short shakeout run. This is not a workout. It’s just to get the blood flowing, an easy, roly-poly outing in the woods, a chance for you to get acclimated to the altitude and for me to watch you run.
We’ll go for thirty-five to forty minutes, whatever feels comfortable. I’ll keep the instructions intentionally vague at the beginning— nothing more complicated or nuanced than, “Take it easy”—since the important thing is to get a sense of how you naturally run. I’ll be watching your form, and to do that I’ll move around on the trail, leading for a while and then dropping back to follow. I might speed up the pace for a stretch and then slow it back down. I’ll be looking to see how you respond: Do you push to keep up—despite those instructions at the start to keep it easy? Or do you do your own thing? I’ll be looking to see how confident you are in your own pace.
You can learn a vast amount about people just by going on an easy run with them. Every step reveals a wealth of detail, and I’m making notes in my head as we go along: Hey, her pace is good, or Hmm, his stride crosses over; He’s not using his glutes; or She’s a heel striker. All of this gives me a road map for going forward.
I’m an expert at running and talking—comes with the job. So let me cover a little about form as we go. Like I told Chris, there’s a right and a wrong way to run, and I’m here to teach you the difference. The specifics will come later. For now, let’s address the significance of form.
When we have good form, we run efficiently. With bad form . . . wait for it . . . you’re running inefficiently. Bad form forces you to use some muscles more, and others less, than is optimal. Over time, the ones we use strengthen; the ones we don’t weaken. It’s not rocket science. This disparity throws off the body equilibrium I told you about before. When that happens, you create tightness in your muscles, and you suffer from common running ailments in your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. We’ll focus a lot on form, and I’m confident that once you start making changes, you’ll like the transformation in your running.
But right now, it’s important that we make sure the run stays relaxed and natural, to keep you from becoming self-conscious. The hardest thing for a person to do is to run as he or she normally does when she knows there’s someone watching. Of course, there’s a good chance you’ll be a bit distracted—by the scenery of Jackson, with the woods just waking to the day, the mountains coming into focus beyond the trees; by the thoughts of what you’re going to be asked to do over the next seven days; and, of course, by the altitude.
If you’re coming from sea level, this first run at six thousand feet is going to be a real eye-opener, and not just in the good-morning sense. You’ll feel it just walking from the car to the trailhead: that sense that each breath is bringing in just a tiny bit less oxygen than you need. Even at a relaxed pace on the trails, a sense of desperation can creep in, as each slight rise brings a gasping moment of oxygen debt. Yeah, yeah, Jackson is gorgeous, and the morning sun through the trees is amazing, and we might see a bear or a mountain lion or who knows what else, but right about ten minutes into this easy run, your vision is narrowed to the single track in front of you, and your thoughts are on nothing more than the next step. This is a shakeout run? It feels more like a survival test. But you press on. That’s what you’re here for. And the amazing thing is how the body always adapts. Even by the end of this first short outing, you’ll feel a bit stronger, like there’s more you can give. And that, right there, is part of the process.
As we slow to a jog and then a walk on the last switchbacks down to the trailhead, your pulse rate and breathing returning to normal, you’re already thinking ahead to the next run, considering how you’ll respond to a greater challenge. You’re eager, excited, energized.
This is a good time for me to hit you with the heart and soul of my program. Sometimes I call it cardiovascular training, because there’s a lot of pumping blood and heaving lungs during its execution. But there’s much more that happens during this aspect of your training— improving running efficiency, developing strength, burning fat, raising lactic acid thresholds, getting faster—and so you’ll also hear me address it as your “strategic running foundation.” Catchphrase or not, what I’ll lay out for you with a specific day-by-day schedule is a system of training runs focused on either speed or heart-rate zones.
Following it will build for you a foundation of endurance, speed, and strength for whatever kind of running you want to do, no matter what level of runner you are. This program is flexible and dynamic enough to work for the beginner simply looking to develop a healthy approach to running, to the experienced competitor who’s hitting a plateau, and to those who are looking to run their first 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, or beyond.
Gets you hungry just thinking about it, right?
Next stop is breakfast. We’ll roll back into town and hit the Bunnery, just off Town Square, bright and bustling with folks off to work and others in from their morning workouts—rides and runs and climbs and paddles. There’s nothing like sitting down to breakfast knowing that you’ve already done a morning run. The engine is fired and ready for fuel.
This will be a good time to talk a bit about nutrition—surrounded by the aroma of fresh-baked muffins and buns, breakfast burritos, and blueberry pancakes. Nutrition is a very important part of my program (something you’ll learn over the next few days), though not so much in terms of day-by-day, meal-by-meal schedules and menus. It’s not about becoming a label (vegan, paleo, veggie). To me, the question of nutrition is more about mind-set: With the commitment to becoming an athlete, and living as an athlete, comes the sense that you live with awareness. That includes awareness of what you put in your mouth. We will talk about natural eating, and avoiding processed foods, and particularly sugar. But mainly the message is that we all know what we should be eating, and, just as important, what we shouldn’t be eating. The key is to stop taking half measures and just do it right. Oh, and pass the salsa for the huevos rancheros.
Breakfast is over—a lot to digest so far in many ways. Go rest, take a siesta at your hotel, maybe head out for a leisurely walk afterward. Take in a bit of Jackson, talk to some locals, get a feel for the place where you’ll be spending the next week. I’ll pick you up when the sun is on its wane.
It’s late afternoon, and we’re back in the truck, bombing north past the airport into Grand Teton National Park. We turn in at Moose Junction and cross the Snake River, shadows from the falling sun now stretching across its waters. We follow Teton Park Road farther up into the park. There’s still a nice warmth in the air, but you can’t help but notice the narrow poles flashing past at regular intervals along the side of the road. They’re there to mark the edge of the pavement when the route is covered in snow—and they’re taller than the truck. What, you wonder, looking out through the greens and browns of the woods, must it be like here in the winter, when all is white?
While your mind is wandering to thoughts of taking up ski mountaineering, or snow biking, we pull in and park beside the eastern edge of Jenny Lake.
This is where we’re going to do another run, and it is a spot unlike any you’ve ever seen. Formed by glaciers twelve thousand years ago and framed by the tallest peaks in the Teton Range, Jenny Lake is about two miles long and a mile wide at the middle, and its crystal water mirrors the sky and the mountains perfectly. For the next hour or so, this living postcard will form the backdrop to our workout, even as you’re going to be focusing not outward on the scenery, but inward on your own mental landscape.
As we take off along the pine-needle trail around the lake, I want you to think about the importance of training the mind, as well as the body. Thinking affects performance, period. I’ll talk a lot about this over the coming days, but for now, I just want to further introduce this idea of awareness.
With awareness comes the possibility of control and improvement, of progress and mastery—and, ultimately, of new possibility. In many ways, actually, what we think is not what’s important. What is important is our awareness of our thinking, and, then, how we act after we think it. It’s human nature, for instance, to want to know what’s in store, to ask before we attempt something, “What’s going to happen? What is the outcome going to be?” Our thinking—this need to “know”—is often what stops us from doing the things we want to do, or dream of doing, especially when we’re not sure we can. Call it a fear of the unknown. It can stop us before we start. But if we can identify that fear—if we have awareness of it—and still go forward, then we’re on a clear road to our dreams. Crazy things happen when you’re on that road. Crazy good things. That’s something that I’ve learned over the course of my life, and it has become the foundation for my own athletic endeavors and for my philosophy of training. When we embark on any venture—whether it’s running or any other endeavor in life—it’s crucial that we don’t get hung up about the outcome. Yes, every athlete has his or her goals, and it’s important and necessary to aim for those. But we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and that’s the glory.
This is not all loose theory (i.e., “Here’s what’s theoretically possible, but you’re on your own to figure out how to obtain it”). No. There are specific techniques you’ll learn from me. The journey begins by helping you identify your goals, what it is you actually want to accomplish as a runner. You’ve done some visualization already with me, but there’s much more to come.
I’ll also teach you how to use mantras. Don’t worry: I’m not talking sitting like Buddha, legs crossed, incense swirling around your head, and humming deeply “om” after “om.” That’s great, if that’s your thing. But mantras come in all different shapes and sizes. They can simply be repeating phrase like, “Do what’s required.” Their power comes in focusing your thoughts, centering your mind to your purpose.
Heady stuff, quite literally, but if you trust me to lead you through every step of the Cool Impossible, you’ll see that it works.
Now slow down; come and sit beside me on the lakeshore. Good. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Go ahead—take your shoes off; I know you want to slip those tired feet into the cold blue water of Jenny Lake. Nice, right? Hopefully, you feel a kind of open flow through your body, a relaxed sense of connectedness.
We sit here awhile, not speaking, just taking it all in.
There—look up now into the wide blue Wyoming sky. There, far, far above, a bald eagle is circling, riding the currents seemingly effortlessly, everything—anything—within its reach. Maybe, you think, you can relate.
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Meilleurs commentaires des clients
Pour le fond...c'est que le meilleur de ce que l'on sait aujourd'hui en matière de course à pied, des techniques de remise en forme à la musculation spécifique et de la façon de courir à la nutrition et à la gestion mentale...Et Eric Orton sait de quoi il parle !
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards)
1. Eric Orton wrote the book as a narration of the experience of a week long one on one seminar with him. This is exceptionally irritating. There are phrases like, "We are driving out to my favorite trailhead, you see a bear cub off to your right. That's Grand Teton over there. Drink it in. This natural beauty is recharging your soul." This seems like a terrible format. Maybe it was chosen to fluff up the book due to lack of content. It was fine when he was talking about the mental states of running, but in the last few chapters when he gets into some New Age mantra/visualization talk, it's really annoying. Really annoying. It comes off like football coach jock speak.
2. The exercises in the book for foot strength look very good and I will be implementing them. However, he advocates you get a slant board, something he sells on his website for almost $80. On a break from reading the book, I made one out of wood scraps I had at home and some sandpaper, Took about 10 minutes. Don't buy one of those! Find a picture online and make one. For the wobble board, I'm going to cut a lacrosse ball in half and glue that to a board. For ski poles, I'm using 2 cross country skis my friend threw away. Free. That gear is free. Don't buy more gear.
2a. The layout for the exercises is kind of obtuse and it seems difficult to follow.
3. The training program for running is 5 months long. This is the focus of this book and it's a very regimented, watching your heart rate, keeping a journal kind of thing. Maybe someday, not now. Orton has a lot of experience and for some, this zone workout might be worth the price of admission.
4. The chapter on nutrition is a joke. It could be one sentence long...."Eat good stuff." Instead you have to read about going to the store with Eric. There is very little content and he is hedging his bets against pissing off the different tribes of eaters. Scott Jurek's a vegan, Mark Sisson's a caveman. Eric didn't want to tangle. I remember getting the same lesson in nutrition from watching an episode of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. The trainer said "If it has more than five ingredients, don't eat it. If it doesn't look like food in it's original shape, don't eat it."
5. The chapter on running form, the reason I bought this book, is nothing more than what is on his youtube videos. If you want to hear his take on form, get those videos. Actually the dvd "Run Faster and Injury Free" is the best form tutorial I have seen. You have to ignore that it sounds like an infomercial, but that's a really sound video.
6. There isn't a lot of science in this book. He speaks anecdotally about the Tarahumara but doesn't tie it into other stuff.
7. I don't know what I got out of it. I will do the foot exercises, maybe if I want to get really serious I might consider the 5 month program, but I didn't feel like there was much in this book besides "Be aware of your body. Take note of how eating different things makes you feel. Have a forefoot strike." The philosophy was weak, pandering and awkward.
8. The title, and the catch phrase of the book "The Cool Impossible" are really weird. There is no explanation of it in the beginning. It keeps popping up and it's like he is trying to brand himself, or the idea that you should go out and strive for your dreams. It's weak. It's just more jockspeak.
9. This book is about training your body for athleticism, not just running and that's good. I much prefer Mark Lauren's "You are Your Own Gym." Me and several of my friends have been using the courses in that for years and everyone is seeing great results.
All and all, I feel like this book is what I feared it would be, the last character from Born to Run writing a book because everyone else is making money on theirs. Orton ties into that story early on because it gives him a place in the fitness book world. He definitely has cred as a trainer, and we need those, but he can't carry it across to everyone. I don't think I could hang with the guy. The book is confused, it's not just about running, ultras, nutrition or athleticism; it tries to tie all of these together as pathways towards achieving your mysterious "Cool Impossible" fantasy. But the concept is weak and I didn't find it very motivating. If you want to stampede towards your goals, you have to start ingesting the heavy stuff, books with deep teachings, this book is pretty light.
I will confess that I did all the steps up to the 2nd half of the strategic running program, but had to stop there due to personal reasons. However, by the end of the 1 1/2 months of preparation phase and 3 months with the Strategic Foundation Program, my long run had progressed from 5 miles to 20 miles, I was injury free, I was rarely sore, and felt energized all the time, even after a 3-hour run.
The book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall was a revelation for many runners that the way they were going about running might be wrong; bad posture, over-striding, heel striking, overuse muscle injury, and muscular imbalance, etc. being just a few of the ailments. If you missed that book, pick up a copy as well as it is an enjoyable narrative and inspiring, albeit a little jumpy in it's storyline (or maybe that is just how I read it).
The forward to Eric Orton's book is written by Christopher McDougall and so The Cool Impossible is the logical next step for those who wanting to get started down the rabbit hole of learning how to run again.
Taking the first steps into The Cool Impossible by Eric Orton, it is a running book, but it is a little different than you might be used to if you've spent any time in this genre. It is written as a narrative with the premise that you, the reader are visiting Eric in Wyoming and training with him for a week. This might put some off, but that is how he wrote it and it works fine. The style is conversational like a coach would interact with his athlete. One recommendation that Eric Orton makes is that you should read through the entire book before beginning training. I would say read it once, start training, read it again once you've gotten into the Foundation running program, then refer back to it as needed throughout your training.
Here is a quick look at what you will need to follow this training program:
$12 The Cool Impossible. Yep, probably need this.
$15-$20 An exercise ball, they are sized by your height so choose accordingly
$5-$80 Wobble board, Stability disk, and ski polls
$200-$600 GPS watch and heart rate monitor (I used the Suunto Ambit2 GPS w/ HR strap, great product). You could also use a cell phone with a HR strap, but I don't like running with my phone.
$80-$150 Zero drop shoes. Zero drop is defined as .00 difference between the forefoot of the shoe and the heel, if there is a difference it is measured in millimeters.
An exercise ball and the wobble board/stability disks will be used for the strength training. I made my own board and stability disk out of scrap materials I had laying around so I had very little cost. For those who don't have access to materials or who aren't handy, you can purchase the board, disks, ski polls, and videos as a bundle from Eric Orton's website, or purchase something similar from a fitness store. What I constructed perfectly matches the product that Eric Orton sells, but what I do wish I had was those videos. However, it is possible to learn the strength drills through the book alone, it just requires carefully performing the drills and referring back to the pictures and descriptions in the book. One note I will add is that Eric Orton throughout this book says that who you buy equipment or shoes from doesn't matter, just make sure if fits within the parameters he outlines.
The concept of progressions is essential. If we think of our training as a succession of building blocks, each block being necessary in order to add another one, then we need to exercise maturity in not jumping ahead in the program, whatever program that is.
The book and your training will progress in this way:
Correcting mindset, e.g. training vs. working out
Building strength from the feet up
Learning how to run with the correct form
Putting that new running form into practice in a 4-6 week "performance" phase
Begin the two-part strategic foundation running program which takes 20 weeks total (5 months)
To start off Eric makes the statement that being an athlete is a choice. Making that choice involves undertaking the mindset of an athlete training, not just someone "working out". An athlete is aware of everything and how it affects him; his mindset, running form, eating habits, etc. Running well without awareness is almost impossible since as an activity it is complicated enough that if done improperly it will break our bodies down. However, it is simple enough that once we learn how we should move and become aware of how we are currently running, we can start to correct those biomechanical faults and get on the path of proper running form. Done correctly this will open up the potential for a lifetime of injury-free running, and run beyond what we thought was possible. This I found to be true.
Just like a house which requires a solid footing, the body needs strong feet in order for the rest of the body to not fall apart from the demands we place on it while running. Eric Orton starts with the feet because they are one of the most ignored aspects of running and therefore need the most attention starting out. Weak feet lead to incorrect form, incorrect muscle recruitment, and muscle imbalances. He also addresses the core and upper body, again focusing on runners who tend to have specific weaknesses. The stability disk, wobble board, and fitball will play the biggest part in the strength phase. Don't skip this step!
Learning To Run
Most people think that they don't need to learn to run. I know I thought this, but Eric Orton points out that no one thinks that way about swimming, golf, tennis, baseball, etc. We all recognize the importance of a coach who breaks down our golf swing and makes adjustments until we have mastered the basic swing. There may be some advanced variations, but they are exactly that, a variation off of that basic swing.
Eric Orton takes you through the five key principles of running form, provides drills for practicing good form. An additional benefit is that as you are practicing and referring back to the book, you begin to catch Eric's advice or corrections in the book. "If you feel this, then that is going on", etc. You may have to experience it before those coaching tips make sense, but it falls into place as you do it. Which points to the value of reading the book as you train in order to truly pick up on the full value of this book.
Putting It Into Practice
While performing the strength training and running form drills, Eric Orton wants you to start running and work towards four half hour runs per week, for four to six weeks. This is for both the novice and veteran alike. For the novice, this makes a lot of sense. But if you are a veteran I would just suggest that you put aside thoughts that you are beyond the basics. In reality, we are talking a month and a half at most. That really isn't a lot of time and I think you will find the time spent is well worth it and will make you a significantly better runner. These runs are slow runs where your main focus is on your running form and preparing for the foundation program. He advises that you govern yourself and your intensity here by breathing only through your nose. If you can't breathe through your nose then your run is too intense, back off until you can. This allows time for your body to adapt to the strength training and new running style which places different demands on your body with potential for a lot of soreness early on. After two or three weeks that soreness will go away. By running at a low intensity you will have shorter recovery times from these runs.
I can't say enough how important this step was for my growth. Before I found this book I was beginning to run, but I was trying to run full throttle all of the time. I didn't understand that my all or nothing approach was actually holding me back from developing as a runner. Once I slowed down my progress exploded.
It is through this phase that I would say you don't need to invest in a GPS watch or heart rate monitor, (usually they work together, or you can use your phone with a running app with a heart rate monitor that you purchase separately). I'm not sure if this is by design, but as it is you can match your investment in equipment to your actual progress. You can give the program a shot, if you find that you are consistent and are progressing through the program, you can then get the watch and HR monitor before you start the Stategic Running program.
Having a plan is key to success. Fortunately, Eric Orton provides a running schedule that is catered directly to your fitness level. How does he accomplish this? He does this using two tests. You perform these tests immediately prior to beginning the strategic running program so that you know your exact fitness level. The first test is your 1-mile time. The second test is your average heart rate when running as fast as you can sustain for 20 minutes. You then have two charts supplied in the book, along with a running schedule that calls out runs based on these charts. The two tests are used to assign heart rate zones (HRZ) and speed zones (SPZ).
To be honest, I balked at the heart rate monitor and the running schedule when I first went through the book. I tried for awhile to keep running without jumping into this. However, I finally decided to give it a shot. My progress accelerated. Ironically, that didn't mean that I was doing intense running all the time. I would say that only 20% of the runs were speed intervals, hill running, or higher HRZ's.
The Strategic Running Program is split into two phases. The first is focusing on endurance, so slow runs, in lower HRZ's punctuated by the 20% of higher intensity.
The second phase is bringing in a greater emphasis on strength and speed. This is where I had to stop due to personal reasons, but the gains I had made up to this point were beyond what I thought I could ever do. The second phase runs get shorter, but are more intense.
The plans are geared towards a 6-day running week. However, he placed in asterisk next to days that you could skip if you wanted to do 3-4 days of running per week. You can also choose to run less each day as well. So, where many runs would get up to an hour long you could easily modify the runs to 30 or 45 minutes. By taking ownership of your training you can make it suit your life and goals.
To be honest, this is the chapter I paid the least attention to and have little to say on it. Overall I would say my family has a fairly sensible diet and so I skimmed through this chapter. Likewise the chapter on visualization. That's just me, others may find both these chapters beneficial.
On another note, they way I ate did change. I ate more. In some of those long runs I was burning 3500 calories (estimated by heart rate, duration, effort, etc.). It wasn't unusual for me to come home after a 3-hour run and consume half a dozen eggs, toast, and anything else I could lay my hands on.
You will also need to plan on learning how to stay nourished and hydrated during long runs if you are running beyond 12 miles. I would suggest to keep your learning just ahead of your ability. E.g. if you are only running 3 miles, then don't worry about it, focus on the program. As your run times and distance grow, then you can start looking at what you will need to do. Eric gives guidance on this as well, but I had to augment through trial and error and further research. Which gets back to Eric Orton's main theme:
Athleticism = Awareness. Eric Orton is getting you started on this path, but you have to take your training upon yourself, put in the effort, and become aware of how your body is performing.
This program is accessible to both the novice and veteran runners. I experienced many great gains and PR's while using this program. If you were to get the book for the coaching advice alone, I would say it is worth it. Keep running!
Every running book with training plans has something to offer even if the reader doesn't actually follow the plans. This one is no different; there are several good tips here. The most unique feature of this book compared to others that I've read is the emphasis on foot/ankle/calf strength development by practicing semi-isometric stances in varied positions. After seeing some videos on YouTube, this is what I bought the book for and feel that these exercises (still a work-in-progress for me) have been helpful not only in my running but inline skating and cycling as well.
The true joy in running is learning how to play your body, and Eric teaches that. Change your lean and stride as needed. Check periodically that your cadence, tall posture, pronated mid-foot landing, etc. is constant. Doing anything goofy with your arms, bending at the waist or toe outs? There is so much (too much) of your body to monitor and play with when running that who could even think of listening thru ear buds to songs heard hundreds of times over.
Eric teaches to listen to your body, and once you begin to learn this skill it is the greatest joy in running. Barefoot training, as Eric states, is a periodic must. You WILL do stupid things when landing in marshmallow sneaks with your toes so scrunched together that they overlap (your foot is immobile!), but barefoot will set you straight. Thanks Eric!