Running Tough: 75 Challenging Training Runs

Running Tough: 75 Challenging Training Runs
Michael Sandrock. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2001

Running Tough is a selection of favorite workouts from the stars of our sport. If you want to know what coaches Joe Vigil or Mark Wetmore design for their runners, or what Khalid Khannouchi or Paula Radcliffe do to get fit, this is the book. Workouts are organized by type – base, long run, hills, fartlek, tempo, intervals, recovery – and as well as the workouts, some sample training schedules are included.

Sandrock is a 2:24 marathoner and knows the workouts from the inside. He opens the book with a necessary “kids, don’t try this at home” — that is, what works for a 130-mile-per-week 2:05 marathoner may be a little much for you. Of course, Sandrock certainly knows that at least some of his readers will go out and try the workouts anyway, but he does his best to both warn and to encourage adapting the workouts to one’s own capacity and fitness. He makes it repeatedly clear that the only way to benefit from the workouts is to fit them to your own abilities.

Each workout is clearly explained, and Sandrock rightly describes pace in relative, not absolute terms. So, while runners like Adam Goucher and Alan Culpepper may find a 10K at 5-minute pace the right anaerobic threshold stimulus, the workout description directs one to run “just below anaerobic threshold” – which all of us can translate into our own correct level.

Sandrock interleaves stories of his own experience with the list of workouts. His description of an easy run with Olympic marathon Gold-medalist Frank Shorter when Shorter was in his prime, is great: “What’s wrong with this guy? I could destroy him!” Sandrock even recalls a young woman in a heavy sweatshirt jogging by. Different story next day when Shorter invited him to the hard workout: Sandrock gasping under a lactate avalanche, unable not just to complete the workout, but even to complete the first part of the workout.

Easy-to-read, nicely structured, with lots of “earned common sense” from the author. The only quibble with the book is use of poor-resolution computer images for illustration. Pretty trivial; there’s nothing of substance not to like, and if you’re feeling your workouts are a little predictable, it’s a wealth of variety from a lot of thoughtful people with really, really big work capacities.

Please follow and like us: