Book Review: Run by Matt Fitzgerald

Have you ever read a book and found yourself nodding at everything you read? That's what you may experience when reading Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald writes about the role of the mind in physical achievement and how trusting your body can lead to great gains.

As a triathlete reading this book, I wanted to know: How do I get faster? I found that, but not in the way I expected. At no point does the Fitzgerald say, "Do A and B and your PRs shall fall like rain!" In fact, he suggests that experimentation and personalization are key factors in speed and training.

The main thrust of this book is the idea that your body knows how to run, and how to run fast, better than anything else. It knows better than your coach and it knows better than a training guide, though these are useful tools for building familiarity and structure.

Fitzgerald advocates for a minimalist approach to running. He suggests that, while heart rate monitors and VO2Max levels may have their place, they can be more of a hindrance than a help in a runner's quest for speed. For example, if you feel strong but your heart rate monitor says you have reached your target heart rate, are you going to listen to your body or your watch?

Fitzgerald preaches listening to your body to such an extent that specific workouts are planned, not days or weeks in advance, but practically on the fly. Runs should be developed and adapted based on how the runner feels that day while following the most basic of plans, (i.e. interval day, distance day, hill day, rest day) which can also be flexible.

Fitzgerald shies away from giving specific training plans, which seems to be a departure from many other books. He mentions that in the past he has written running books that he admits contain ideas contradictory to those found in Run. This shows an ability to learn from experience and an openness to new ideas.

They concept of ditching a plan is intimidating. The author seems to understand this and provides scaffolding to increase every runner's chances of success. His point: Nothing works for everyone. There is an appendix at the end of this book containing very simple, skeletal frames on which a runner can hang a plan.

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