Lore of Running

With its fourth edition, the Lore of Running just gets bigger and better, and is a must-have for the reference shelf not only of runners, but also frankly for any endurance athlete or anyone interested in the research available about the sport and training.
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Publisher: Human Kinetics, 2003
Author: Tim Noakes, M.D.
$27.95 (Canada: $44.95)
ISBN: 0-87322-959-2

With its fourth edition, the Lore of Running just gets bigger and better, and is a must-have for the reference shelf not only of runners, but also frankly of any endurance athlete or anyone interested in the research available about the sport and training. And we do mean bigger -- literally. This new one is 930 pages and 7-by-10-inches, while the third tome was a mere 804 pages and a paltry 6-by-9-inches. Heck, if you get tired of reading the new one (as if you ever will), you can use it for a conversation-starting doorstop.

Our old edition in the SNEWS offices is frayed and tattered, with multiple bookmarks stuck hither and yon throughout, while some sections are marked up with pen and pencil to be able to find them easier for reference. We have yet to mar this new one quite as badly. But, then, we've only had it for a few weeks.

One of the beauties of Noakes' writing is that he is able to approach subjects with the detailed mind of a researcher and medical professor (He is professor of sports science and exercise at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the director of sport science research at a sport institute in South Africa), while he also presents practical applications for the end-user (He is a veteran marathoner and ultra-marathoner himself). Oh, and since we've actually communicated with him personally, we can add he's also just a really nice and approachable guy.

Actually, we think the word "lore" in the title is a bit misleading. OK, we get some war stories here and there from both the author, his research experiences onsite at events, and from other athletes, but this is not a book of stories for nighttime or easy reading. It is research and science for the epitome of reference.

We can't begin to explain the pages upon pages of useful information, charts and recommendations. Topics covered include the physiology and biochemistry of running; the basics of training including how to avoid overtraining and training the mind; how to transfer training to racing from the 10K and beyond; and running health, including a section on ergonomic aids and a comprehensive section on injuries. For one thing, the table of contents in this edition is much easier to digest compared to the last -- simple, short and easy to sort through. If you want to find a really tiny part of a broader topic mentioned in the TOC, then the lengthy index will get you there.

We particularly like the sections on energy metabolism, energy systems, temperature regulation and injuries. Noakes does a fine job of sorting through reams of confusing and sometimes conflicting research on hydration, carb intake and electrolytes to present understandable recommendations on what to do and how to do it.

One warning: Although written for the layperson, parts can be a bit technical. Let's say, it's really written for the zealot of a layperson. But even someone who is less of a zealot can skim over the techy stuff and still find good information that will broaden his or her knowledge, as well as, we think, improve performance, training, recovery and health.

We think that you'll end up looking for one topic, however, and -- if you have any interest whatsoever in broader theory -- you will find yourself still pouring over the book an hour later, having found a plethora of other areas that piqued your interest.

Get this book. Put it on your shelf in a prime location. And, if you ever have any question about training, turn to it first.

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