Let’s be honest. Running books on how to run better typically aren’t your stay-up-all-night-page-turners.
Other than Born to Run, in fact, I can’t think of any other running books I’ve read that have either really helped me improve my running and/or provided some entertaining look into the world of running.
That is, until I was lucky enough to stumble on Run for Life: The Injury-Free, Anti-Aging, Super-Fitness Plan to Keep You Running to 100 by author Roy M. Wallack.
A Little Background
I’ve never been a great runner. In fact, even though I’m a triathlete, running has always been difficult for me and I’ve had to work hard to both enjoy it and to do it reasonably well.
A few years ago, I was having a terrible time running. My IT bands in both my legs were killing me and I had to take six weeks off from running.
I thought my triathlon season was over.
But then I found Wallace’s book, read it through, and used the tips and techniques within the book to continue working on my running technique, which not only saved my triathlon season, but saved my running.
The book doesn’t contain a storyline like Born to Run does, but instead focuses on specific mechanics, and things you can do to not only run better, but to keep your body healthy so that you can run longer, hopefully even to 100.
Wallack focuses on the following and expands each:
1) Run Soft
2) Run Strong
3) Run Straight
4) Run Less
6) Run Faster
7) Run Flexible
8) Run Motivated
9) Eat Healthy
And as an added bonus, after each chapter, Wallack includes an interview he has done with one of the great figures of running, which are great in the insight they offer.
One of the points in the book that I appreciated the most was how Wallack talks about running straight. He recommends picturing your body being on a track (like the track your pantry or closet doors run along), with the ankles, knees, and hips all running in a perfect line. Doing this keeps everything in line and keeps the joints from rubbing the wrong way.
Wallack also advises that runners pay attention to where their hands are while running.
So I tried this out.
I noticed that while I ran, my hands and arms weren’t very much in line with the rest of my body.
What was happening while I was running was that my hands would cross over the vertical center-line of my body, instead of going up an down with my elbows closer in towards my ribs.
Wallack explains that if your hands are crossing that line, it means your upper body is moving side to side, causing an unnatural twisting that causes the rest of your body to not run smoothly along that track with the rest of your joints.
It makes sense, but it was something that I was failing to do, and I believe it was having an adverse affect on my running and causing my alignment to be all out of whack. I’ve tried to run with my elbows more tucked in to my body, without my hands crossing that vertical center line, and it has helped.
This is just one of the tips that Wallack gives and his book is filled with lots more concrete examples on how to improve your running so that you can continue to do it throughout your whole life.