Is There Really Just One Best Way to Run?

There’s a great post today on The New Yorker magazine’s blog about a pair of running books, one that’s been out for a while and another that’s new — 14 Minutes, by the legendary runner and running coach Alberto Salazar.

The book traces the arc of Salazar’s life from his legendary battle with Dick Beardsley at the 1982 Boston Marathon (which Salazar won in dramatic fashion) to his later disillusionment with running and training, and an addiction to painkillers that lasted for years.

Salazar was able to kick his addiction, however, and become one of the most highly-regarded running coaches in the sport. What really interested me, though, is how he’s drawn to finding and perfecting the best running form — how you move your body, where your feet land, what’s the most efficient way to do those things?

“There has to be one best way of running. It’s got to be like a law of physics. And if you deviate too much from that — the way I did in my career — it can be a big handicap… You show me someone with bad form, and I’ll show you someone who’s going to have a lot of injuries and a short career.”

Chris McDougall, who’s also profiled in the piece and is best known for his 2009 book Born to Run, might argue that the shoes we wear prevent us from achieving the right form for running. The running shoe industry is one of his chief targets, and he basically is convinced that if we all ran barefoot (or something close to that) then we’d all see many fewer injuries and pain from running.

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Just Get Moving: It Doesn’t Take a Lot of Running to Benefit

All you need to do to gain the lion’s share of health benefits from running and exercise is just to start moving, say a pair of news stories that were published recently in the New York Times and ABC News.

The first story, reported on ABC News’s website this weekend, looks at a Danish research study on the benefits of cardiovascular exercise in a study called the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which has tracked the heart health of more than 19,000 participants since 1976. All you need to benefit and live a longer, healthier life — and add as much as six years to your lifespan — is to get out and run for an hour a week, the research suggests:

“We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

Read the full story on ABCNews.com here.

The ‘First 20 Minutes’ are the most important

The second story I came across this weekend that I found fascinating was an interview with The New York Times’s Gretchen Reynolds, who authors a weekly column in the paper’s Health section as well as writing a popular blog for its website called “PhysEd.” She’s compiled the wisdom she’s learned through a 20-year career of writing and reporting on health, fitness and exercise for the paper, and learned that it’s possible we need to exercise less, and not more, to stay healthy and fit.

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Friday reads: Foot form, nipple chafing and why miles?

This week’s roundup of stories and articles from the around the web is a bit of a grab bag, but that’s just sometimes what you get with my eclectic reading tastes.

Especially interesting to me this week was a story on foot form and whether it can cause running injuries in the New York Times, plus some invaluable tips for men to prevent the issue we always face with any run that’s longer than four or five miles. You know what I’m talking about.

Here’s this week’s must-reads:

  • Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?: From the NYTimes, another look at heel-striking, which causes so many injuries among runners.
  • How to Prevent Nipple Chafing: From Runner’s World’s Ask Jenny column, 8 tips on how to prevent looking like you “got shot” at the end of a race or long run.
  • Secrets of the Treadmill: Though the weather’s been unseasonably warm across the south, much of the country is still seeing plenty of winter weather, making the “dreaded” treadmill a necessity for now. Here’s tips on how to improve your workout on it, from Running Times.
  • Race Day Secrets from a Pro: From ESPN.com, a video interview with Runner’s World expert Jen Van Allen on how to stay hydrated and properly fueled on your half marathon race day.
  • Why Are Courses Marked in Miles?: Answer to a great question, considering so many popular race distances are measured in kilometers.
  • Grey’s Anatomy Stars Run Half Marathon for Charity: Yes, I know. Forgive me for linking to Star Magazine. But this is still a pretty cool one, right? Kim Raver, Chandra Wilson and Justin Chambers laced up for last weekend’s Rock & Roll Pasadena Half Marathon. Did any of you guys spot them at the race?

Friday Roundup: Great Reads on Running, Health & More

I couldn’t let another week pass without providing a link to what must be one of the absolute toughest races there is, the Empire State Building Run-Up, which took place last week. Yes, you heard that right — runners, walkers, firefighters and endurance athletes of all kinds attempt the grueling climb up 86 flights of stairs all the way to the observation deck at the top of the Empire State Building in New York.

A good friend of mine ran it — and finished it! — but needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be joining her next year. Here’s a recap of that race, plus some other great reads I’ve found around the Web this week.

  • Once Again, First to the 86th Floor: A profile of Thomas Dold, the 27-year-old winner (again) of this year’s Empire State Building Run-Up, who is on his way to becoming for this race what Takeru Kobayashi once was to the 4th of July hot dog eating contest at Coney Island.
  • Slideshow of the Empire State Building Run-Up: The race in pictures, captured by New York Times photographers.
  • Getting Out of a Rut: Running Times magazine takes a look at the perennial bane of nearly every runner, how to rise above it when you plateau during training.
  • Hidden Arsenic Source in Brown Rice Syrup?: In a web follow-up to their story this week on World News Tonight, ABC News takes a look at what could be inside the energy shots and gels many of us consume during training and races.
  • 3 Foods for a Healthy Heart: If I bring you down with the link above, I wanna lift you back up again with this one. Because running is all about cardio health, and you gotta have heart, right?

What have you been reading lately?

Friday’s Reads on Running, Health & More

Quick roundup of great reads on running, health, weight loss and more from around the Web, especially some great coverage on last weekend’s NYC Marathon: