The Born Again Runner
| Year Published:
The Born Again Runner is the perfect title for this book. It is essentially a beginner's guide to distance running. But, also, it represents what author Pete Magill learned as he replaced his addiction to alcohol and smoking with his love of running.
Recommended for: Beginning distance runners
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pete Magill is currently an elite Masters-level distance runner and a running coach. He has won USA Masters Cross Country titles 6 times, is the fastest-ever American runner over age 50 in the 5-K (15:01) and 10-K (31:11) distances, and holds multiple American and world age-group running records. He posted the 2nd-fastest time ever in the half-marathon (1:10:19) for his age group. Over the past decade, he led his Southern California clubs to 19 Masters national championships in cross-country and road running. Magill lives in South Pasadena, California and competes for the Cal Coast Track Club. This is his 2nd book.
This 290-page book is organized as follows:
PART I: OUT THE DOOR
- Chapter 1: Give Me Your Tired, Your Overweight, Your Out-of-Shape...(truncated)
- Chapter 2: Twelve Guiding Principles for a Born Again Runner
- Chapter 3: Myth-Busting: The No-Excuse Zone (General)
- Chapter 4: Myth-Busting: The No-Excuse Zone (Biomechanical and Medical)
PART II: DOWN THE PATH
- Chapter 5: Run First, Train Later
- Chapter 6: The Road Ahead
- Chapter 7: Shake It Up
- Chapter 8: The No-Mistake Zone
PART III: STAY THE COURSE
- Chapter 9: Create Your Personal Action Plan
- Chapter 10: Live The Running Life
- Chapter 11: Eat, Drink, and Watch Your Calories
- Chapter 12: Injury Prevention 101
Pete Magill was born with running ability: he made the varsity cross-country team his freshman year in high school. But, he also discovered alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs at the same time. Between then and age 39, his life and his health spiraled down. He drank until he blacked out, smoked, and took stimulants to offset inadequate amounts of sleep.
His health declined to the point where he found himself in the ER after collapsing from exhaustion. The ER physician predicted he wouldn't live long enough to see his son graduate from high school. He was 38 years old.
On his 39th birthday, Magill decided to go for a run. He only made it to the first traffic light. He had to sit on the curb for a long time, trying to recover. He decided he would set small goals. On his next run, he alternated jogging and walking. He followed this strategy and gradually increased the distance.
After 5 months, Magill was able to run 5 miles without stopping. A year later, he entered his first Masters level race. Running helped him give up the alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. As described in his Bio above, he has since gone on to set numerous records at the Masters level at several distances. He has also had outstanding success as a running coach.
No doubt, Magill's story is inspiring, but this book is mostly a beginner's guide to running. Here are some specifics:
Chapters 1 and 2 get the novice mentally prepared to run. In Chapter 2, Magill presents his "12 Guiding Principles." These are useful, practical tips.
In Chapters 3 and 4, Magill debunks every objection that a non-runner might come up with to justify not running. Some of the excuses he addresses are simple objections such as "I'm too out-of-shape" or "I don't have enough time" but he also addresses medical concerns. For example, is running risky for people with medical conditions such as heart disease or osteoporosis? Part I is well done.
Part II gets into the nitty-gritty details of developing a running program and Part III refines it. These sections of the book present the majority of the training advice. There is a good amount of practical training advice mixed with some exercise physiology concepts.
Chapter 11 is devoted to sports nutrition. Generally, there is good information here. However, the discussion on post-exercise recovery nutrition is presented in Chapter 8. It seems that this would be more appropriately located in Chapter 11. Also, there isn't any information on proper hydration anywhere in this book. The terms "fluid replacement," "hydration," and "rehydration" do not appear in the Index. This is a major omission as it is an important concept for the beginning distance runner. Thankfully, Magill doesn't recommend, or even attempt to discuss, dietary supplements.
Chapter 12 deals with injury prevention. It includes over 50 pages of color images of specific stretches and exercises.
In general, Parts II and III are well done.
• Photos & Illustrations: Throughout the book, there are profiles of specific runners which include their photos. And Chapter 12 includes over 50 pages of specific stretches and exercises demonstrated by Magill and Diana Hernandez. There are no illustrations.
• Tables & Graphs: The tables of training schedules on pages 110-117 appear to contain good info, but, the sans-serif font is too small and there is too much information crammed on each page. Thus, these tables are hard to read. There are a handful of graphs in this book. Generally, they are well done. However, several of them have been misprinted: the bottom edges of the vertical bars are aligned below the zero line, thus causing the top edge of the vertical bar to be in the wrong position on the graph, too. The 2 pie diagrams on p. 97 are easy to read.
• Documentation: Magill summarizes research findings throughout the book. However, while he sometimes mentions where the research was published, no bibliography is provided and, thus, you can't track down these research citations.
WHAT I LIKED:
The Born Again Runner is packed with useful information, yet, it's easy to read. The author writes from experience and his results validate the training advice. Summarizing research studies also adds to the credibility of the content. The book contains profiles of specific runners. Some of them have also overcome obstacles to become dedicated runners. These are a nice addition as it gives the beginning runner further motivation.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER:
The absence of any guidance on hydration/rehydration is a significant omission, particularly considering the author has covered everything from running with animals to the need to use the restroom while running. Also, the author refers to published studies when discussing medical issues. This is a good thing, but, the specific publication is not provided. Most readers won't care about this, but, I wanted to review the research Magill cites that explains that running doesn't lead to knee problems, a topic that continues to be controversial.
I have no hesitation giving The Born Again Runner 4 stars. It's packed with good, practical information and guidance. If you are a beginning runner and are looking for one book to help get you on the right path, I highly recommend this book.
|Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD
||3/31/2017 9:21:30 AM