Book Review: Daniels’ Running Formula

daniels running formula

“Don’t compare yourself to other runners; focus on your own fitness and performance.”

Over a career spanning many decades, Jack Daniels has coached elite athletes as well as those rising through the ranks of high school and college. He believes in coaching the individual as there is no one size fits all training plan. Having said that, there are clearly approaches that work when the athlete wishes to improve their: endurance, speed, economy of effort. It is these, and the reasoning behind what is being suggested, that he wishes to explain in this book.

The opening chapters focus on what can be achieved. Factors include: inherent ability, motivation, opportunity, direction. Every time a runner goes out they should be able to answer the question: what is the purpose of this workout, why am I running today? Training may not always be fun but it should always be rewarding. The importance of progressing slowly, building up the necessary muscles to avoid injury, is a key factor. The runner should be aware of their personal limits at each stage and not push beyond until their body is ready. Eating well, staying hydrated and getting adequate rest are as important as working out.

The focus then shifts to training plan development. At this point the author becomes quite technical, although each concept is explained clearly. Daniels expects runners to know and be capable of adapting: stride rate, steps per minute, foot strike, breathing rhythms. They should also be keeping tabs on: heart rate, oxygen consumption; hemoglobin levels. There are useful graphs and tables provided that the runner can refer to. Many of these are based on current distances achieved and time taken.

By now it had become clear that I am not the target audience. As a 57 year old with a current Vo2 max of 36 who runs around 25k a week and has only recently come in under an hour on a 10k run, there is only so much I can take on board. I suspect the knowledge and advice being imparted is aimed at coaches or younger runners with a chance to compete at a high level. Nevertheless, the science behind what is being discussed was of interest, as was the author’s experience of working with athletes and what it is possible to achieve.

To be fair, runners at every level can work within the parameters and plans set out. Easy runs maintain good running mechanics, help build resistance to injury and develop heart and other muscles. Threshold running (comfortably hard for around 30 minutes) improves ability to clear blood lactate and build endurance. Interval training increases aerobic power. A great deal of detail is gone into as to different types of run to incorporate into a weekly training plan. Training intensity needs to be tailored and key measures tracked over time.

A runner’s body needs to be prepared for new stressors (increases in speed and distance) before they are attempted. It is important not to overdo it. Rest matters so long as this is not avoidance. Consistency is vital. No runner should train if injured or ill as this will exacerbate the problem.

Having presented the whys and hows of training, sections offer plans for specific distances and abilities. Each is typically divided into four phases to build on improvement. I was pleased to find a plan that I could work with.

“This red plan should do a pretty good job of preparing a runner for some recreational track or road races, even if the distance to be covered in a race is an hour or a little longer”

The more detailed plans provided in following chapters expect athletes to run at least marathon distance each week, going up to well over 100k per week as training progresses. These are clearly for serious runners with time for such dedication.

Mention is made of: treadmill running, altitude training, cross country. The focus, though, is on track and road – from 800m to marathon.

Daniels recognises that many people start running with a desire to simply complete a marathon. He provides plans for different approaches based on current ability and achievement aimed for. Novices are not expected to match the elites’ training, which is lucky as most runners couldn’t run close to the weekly distances required.

The final chapters mention supplemental training.

“nonrunning activities include such things as stretching, resistance training, massage, ice baths, and yoga”

Resistance work builds strength that protects against injury. Taking short breaks in training will aid recovery. I liked the look of the simple circuit routine detailed and will incorporate aspects into my own weekly training plan. I won’t be partaking in ice baths.

Appendices then provide more information on: aerobic profiles, times a runner should expect to achieve over various distances based on their current times. From this I learned that, given my typical 5k run time, I should be able to improve my 10k and half marathon. The final appendix provides suggestions for various high stress workouts. As with many of the training plans provided, runners are expected to keep tabs on their pace, heart rate and other factors while running. Perhaps Daniels expects all runners to work with a coach.

A great deal of information is provided in this book. A code is introduced early on (E for easy run, M for marathon pace and so on) which must be remembered if sense is to be made of subsequent advice. The more technical aspects seemed to me somewhat beyond the recreational runner. Nevertheless, I gleaned much of interest and will be taking applicable suggestions into consideration as I continue to work to improve my personal endurance and times.

Daniels’ Running Formula is published by Human Kinetics and is now in its 4th edition. I read the 3rd edition, a gift from my son.

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Monthly Roundup – February 2022

february

On the last day in January I took part in a virtual running event organised by Outrun the Dark, a runwear company promoting running as a way to deal with mental health issues. Today I hope to take part in a similar event to outrun yet another month spent mostly avoiding people due to their alleged fear of me killing them or their loved ones (I am mask exempt). My concern is of the potential for long term damage to society if people continue to be viewed as a threat simply by taking up nearby space.

We believe dealing with mental health is a noble fight, and we honor the strength and grit needed to persevere. Born from the love of running and the fortitude it builds, we outrun the dark. 10% of profit is donated to funding new ways of beating anxiety and depression.

So closely did these stated company aims align with my own experiences, I had applied to be an ambassador for the brand. Sadly, I was not chosen, but I still follow their community, with its aim to make the world less dark.

outrun the darkPhoto credit: Outrun the Dark website

Having outrun January, February started well with a long weekend away in Devon. Husband and I stayed at a coastal hotel that I suspect would be popular with the coach tour crowd. This would not normally be our sort of thing but we had a lovely room and the food was excellent – although unchanging for the duration of our stay. Despite husband feeling somewhat below par, we managed several scenic walks and took part in a nearby Parkrun. I made good use of the hotel’s tiny swimming pool when he needed to rest. This trip away featured in Edward’s latest ‘Explore’ post.

The rest of the month was quieter with just the usual activities. I managed my first 10 mile run of the year – I’ve been working on pace and now need to build back distance. In strength training I set new PBs for squat and deadlift. This past week my energy levels dipped, as happens from time to time for no obvious reason. I’ve been grateful for my enticing TBR pile when needing to rest.

I posted reviews for 8 books in February – a good mix of new publications and older titles from my shelves. Robyn, although busy as ever, managed to add 1 review.

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

pig iron  the retreat
Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers, published by Bloomsbury
The Retreat by Alison Moore, published by Salt

pricklet
The Pricklet by Mazin Saleem, published by Open Pen

Translated Fiction

battles kings elephants  tender
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard (translated by Charlotte Mandell), published by Fitzcarraldo Editions
Tender by Ariana Harwicz (translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff), published by Charco Press

memoirs polar bear
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada (translated by Susan Bernofsky), published by Granta

Poetry

singing in the dark times
Singing in the Dark Times by Margaret Corvid, published by Patrician Press

Non Fiction

the other jack
The Other Jack by Charles Boyle, published by CB editions

Robyn Reviews

1oliv
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, published by Tor

Sourcing the Books

With a large backlog of unread books that she really wants to read, Robyn has cut back on purchases. These are the titles she has received since the New Year.

Robyn books jan feb

My book post has been very pleasing. I have some good reading ahead.

Jackie books february

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – January 2022

january19

The first day of a New Year is a Parkrun Day so I started this month taking part in one of my favourite activities. The route of our local Parkrun includes a couple of laps around a riverside field. It gets very muddy at this time of year. The keen runners regularly fall over trying to retain momentum on the slip-slidey surface. I tend to take things easier in such conditions, although this doesn’t help with my attempts to improve overall pacing.

Later in the month temperatures plummeted and the field froze – an improvement for running but utterly chilling on my bike ride in. After one particularly freezing event I chose to run home rather than cycle as at least this kept my body temperature at an acceptable level. On a previous week I had got so cold I still felt unwell the next day. Such are the trials of winter when coping with gear inappropriate for the conditions.

I know there are those who suffer seasonal affectiveness disorder and have much sympathy for the challenges this brings. I try to keep my mood steady by going outside each day, even if it is just a short ride to my local gym for strength training. Over the past few weeks husband has been joining me in this as his leg injury is still bothering him, effecting his running activity. Thinking it might be improving he ran one Parkrun alongside me, the slower pace limiting the effort he needed to expend. I was amused by his comments afterwards – that the view from my more relaxed place in the pack is so different to that amongst his fast and focused brigade.

We celebrate daughter’s birthday in January. She booked a few days off work so was able to enjoy some R&R as well as getting outside in daylight for walks, and also trips to the cinema. The family meal at our local pub was enjoyed by all, as was pizza night on the day itself. I ate more that weekend than I normally would in a week.

Unless, of course, that week includes Christmas. In this month’s Edward Explores my intrepid teddy bear came out of hibernation for the festive season and was rewarded with a delightful new friend.

I posted reviews for 9 books in January. Robyn added a further 3 reviews.

As is customary in these roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

the raptures good choices
The Raptures by Jan Carson, published by Doubleday
Good Choices by Bonny Brooks, published by Open Pen

failing of angels  not in the world
The Failing of Angels by Chris Tutton, published by Avalanche Books
We Are Not In The World by Conor O’Callaghan, published by Penguin

matilda windsor  Amongst Women
Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin, published by Inspired Quill
Amongst Women by John McGahern, published by Faber & Faber

Translated Fiction

goddess chronicle  wilder winds
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino (translated by Rebecca Copeland), published by Canongate
Wilder Winds by Bel Olid (translated by Laura McGloughlin), published by Fum d’Estampa

Non Fiction

long field
The Long Field by Pamela Petro, published by Little Tolller

Robyn Reviews

1xira  1fred
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao, published by Rock the Boat
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (translated by Neil Smith), published by Penguin

1ciar
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, published by Andersen Press

Sourcing the Books

Robyn has been enjoying some well deserved time off work and will share the books she received in January with next month’s haul.

I received this very pleasing stack, some of which I read immediately.

Jackie books January

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Random Musings: On taking up running

In the autumn of 2019, after significant weight loss that I hoped would enable me to run without damaging my sometimes dodgy knees, I completed the Couch to 5k programme. On New Year’s Day 2020 I joined husband and daughter at my first Parkrun – in Chippenham – an event that immediately became a Saturday morning fixture. Even when travelling I would be a Parkrun tourist at whichever local event was nearest to where I was staying. I ran in Belfast (Ormeau Park) and London (Fulham Palace). On the weekend lockdown was announced, I ran alone in Cardiff (Bute Park).

A personal trainer at the gym I attended advised that interval training would help improve speed but that I also needed to run further to build stamina. I started to run regular, slow and steady circuits in the grounds outside the facility, along with short sprints on the gym treadmill. My aim was to get my 5k time under 30 minutes. While working towards this goal I discovered I am most comfortable training around the 10k distance.

Having decided that running was something I would continue with, it was time to invest in a decent pair of trainers. I went to John Moore Sports in Bath for gait analysis and came away with a pair of Brooks Ghost shoes. These were for my outside runs – including Parkrun – so they quickly became muddy. As this is frowned upon in a gym environment I also purchased a cheaper pair of trainers – Karrimor Rapids – for treadmill work.


Muddy Ghosts

When the Covid lockdown closed gyms and banned gatherings such as Parkrun, I started running on the lanes close to my home. I found a 5k circuit that I would complete multiple times, and generally trained 3 times a week. Along with my regular 10k runs I would occasionally push to achieve greater distance – a few 10 milers and then, in June, my first lonely half marathon. These longer runs leave me feeling somewhat shattered. I remain most comfortable running a steady 10k.

I am still slow. My kilometre pace is generally between 6.30 and 7. I have only once got my 5k time under 30 minutes. I am aware when my heart rate goes too high and ease off rather than pushing through. I am 56 years old and run for the health benefits of keeping fit, although beating a personal best is still pleasing.

I record all my runs using my Garmin activity tracker, uploading the details afterwards to Strava where I have acquired a small group of like-minded, mutual cheerleaders. In the absence of people to regularly run alongside, this has helped motivate me. I take on digital challenges and collect virtual trophies and badges. The Garmin Connect app allocates points for completing certain challenges and I am hoping to achieve their level 4 in the next month or so.

It always takes an effort of will to start a run but the buzz of completion is hard to beat. I have never yet regretted any run I have gone on, even those when the weather has been against me. My Brooks Ghost shoes have now carried me close to 700k and are starting to show signs of wear. When shopping restrictions are eased I may buy a second pair as I have been pleased with the comfort and support they offer as I pound the local streets.

Mostly I run alone as husband – also a regular runner but of longer standing – is considerably faster over every distance. In recent weeks however, as social distancing has been eased, I will occasionally join in with his informal running club who are of mixed ability. Running helps balance my mental as well as physical health and it is good to be with others of similar thinking.

I miss Parkrun and look forward to its return. Perhaps then, running alongside those who can pace me, I will be inspired to improve my time over the 5k distance. The pleasure was always in the taking part, but a new PB still feels like an achievement.


On a frosty Chippenham Parkrun