Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Review: Up and Running by Julia Jones and Shauna Reid

Pre-order now at
When asked by the lovely Shauna if I would like a free advance copy of Up and Running: Your 8-week Plan to go from 0-5K and Beyond and Discover the Life-Changing Power of Running to review, of course I said, "yes please!"

As you probably know, Shauna is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, and she has been working with Coach Julia Jones for the past few years to offer an online running community and training courses for women (and a few men, I think) who always thought they weren't skinny enough, or athletic enough, or whatever enough to be runners.

I did the Up and Running 10K training course a few years ago, so I was familiar with the Up and Running philosophy.  There are lots of other beginner 5K programs out there, but this one is, as far as I know, the only one that also incorporates drills and exercises designed to strengthen the feet, ankles, and legs and stave off the dreaded shin splints. 

With the Up and Running plan, you won't just be walking and running, you'll be skipping, marching, squatting, and stretching as part of your weekly workouts.  The "free-form running" philosophy means that you won't be left out if you can't run the full distances just yet.

This book doesn't just give you a training plan, it also helps you deal with the mental aspects of starting and sticking with a running plan, like self-consciousness and motivation. It also addresses issues like proper diet, running form, and the all-important question of what to wear when running. There are even tips for keeping your feet soft and (relatively) callous-free. 

The biggest plus for me are all the full-color pictures.  I couldn't believe the book when I saw it.  Every page is a glossy feast for the eyes.  Exercises are described in detail with accompanying instructional photos, but there are also profiles of Up and Running alums with accompanying pictures.  The photos make running look fun and accessible. 

My only quibble is that it might be a little difficult for a beginner to figure out a way to put these workouts in her pocket for a run.  There are some journal pages on pages 156-157 that summarize the workouts in a small space -- I'd recommend either photocopying these and cutting them out, or copying them onto a Post-It and sticking them to your phone.  I know the authors recommend programming the workouts into an app, but I'm not sure how to do that and I'm a techie.  Maybe the authors could offer instructions on the Up and Running site.  

The other thing that might be tricky for U.S. runners is that most of the distances are in kilometers, and most running courses around here are marked out in miles (except tracks, which are 400 m,  2 1/2 laps per K).  Any of the recommended GPS running apps should take care of this problem, as you can change the distance measurements in the Settings.  A kilometer is about 3/5 of a mile, so using K might make it feel like you feel like you are running further faster.  It will also help you have a better sense of how to pace that 5K. 

This book would make a great gift for anyone who has a New Year's Resolution to run a 5K this year.  It really covers everything a beginner needs to get started and, more importantly, keep going. Once you complete the 5K, there are recommendations for your next steps and even some bonus 10K plans. Pre-order links are available from the Up and Running site. There is also an undated training diary available, if you want more space to record your workouts and plan future races.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07