Racing Weight- How To Get Lean For Peak Performance
By Matt Fitzgerald
Velo Press, www.velopress.com, Retail $18.95
Racing Weight provides athletes with a 5-step program to reach their optimal body composition and attain their peak performance. Author Matt Fitzgerald is an avid triathlete and runner and has authored or co-authored more than 17 books as well as having written for numerous publications. In this book, he shares his special expertise in endurance nutrition. This book is not a light read, but an in depth workbook for determining the needs of endurance athletes as well as a wealth of information regarding ideal nutrient timing and diet quality.
The first few chapters help the reader to understand the relationship between nutrition and performance and then walk the athlete step by step through determining their own optimum numbers. Fitzgerald also offers instruction and exercises for managing appetite. It includes entire chapters devoted to supplements and recipes to assist everyone from beginner to seasoned athletes. In Chapter 12, he gives an insightful look into the food journals of professional athletes and lists specific information about their daily nutrition. I found myself pouring over the chapter again and again. Let me warn you up front, this is not a book about dieting, but a plan for deciphering and sticking to a healthy diet.
Having been an athlete most of my life, I was surprised how much new information Racing Weight had to offer me. It’s a solid addition to any athlete’s book shelf and more than worth the purchase.
One Hour Workouts- 50 Swim, Bike & Run Workouts For Busy Athletes
By Scott Molina, Mark Newton & Michael Jaques
Velo Press, www.velopress.com, Retail $24.95
Made with heavy water-proof paper and spiral bound, this book of workouts for triathletes is more than worthy to keep stuffed in your gym bag. The authors set out to compile short, effective workouts for the busy triathlete and they were careful not to waste any of your precious time. Even the intro is short to ensure you get right down to business with these “precision workouts.”
These are not meant to replace your scheduled training however, but to fill in for those crazy days when you’re left with little time to train. Rather than allowing that last minute meeting to force you to skip out on your three hour bike for a quick nap under your desk, One Hour Workouts offers a wide variety of options to fill in the gaps and keep your training on schedule. The entire layout of the book makes it easy to follow and understand. Chapters are separated into Base, Tempo and Speed Workouts for swim, bike, run and brick. They have also included a nice selection of illustrated cross-training and strength workouts.
Over the last few months, I’ve been able to work almost all of these workouts into my training and I found them very effective. For years, I’ve been reading quotes from triathlon professionals that declare the importance of working smarter, not harder. These workouts certainly seem to live up to that advice. More than a few of them are now in my permanant rotation and are a welcome change. Interspersed throughout the book, the authors offer nuggets of advice and humor making it a great book for everyone from busy business professionals to homemakers.
Born To Run- A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
By Christopher McDougall
Knopf, www.aaknopf.com, Retail $24.95
So much has been made about this National Best Seller that I had very high expectations when reading this book. I must confess it’s been quoted so many times as a catalyst for the new ‘barefoot craze’ that is sweeping the running industry, I was afraid it would be nothing more than a commercial filled with ‘new age’ hooey. The truth is, Born To Run is a book filled with exciting and delightfully quirky characters drawn into a relatively unknown corner of the world to battle it out with a tribe of superhuman athletes. With this as a premise, how can the story go wrong? It offers a unique look into the world of ultra-marathoners (any distance over 26.2 miles) that has remained relatively unknown to the mainstream public. “No one knew who they were, or cared who won their strange rambles through he woods. They didn’t even get prize money; all you get for winning an ultra is the same belt buckle as the guy who comes in last.”
I found myself putting the kids on cruise control in the backyard kiddy-pool while I devoured the pages in anticipation of the outcome of the race; which did not dissappoint. McDougall introduces us to the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, a rightfully shy group of natural athletes and gives a very honest, candid look into their culture and endurance secrets.
The history lesson about the human body and it’s running mechanics was kept to a chapter or two and I found it to be very informative. Even after reading though, I’m not entirely convinced we’re all “born to run”. However, until the sequel, “Born For Hard Labor” comes out I’ll just assume his research is accurate.
McDougall is a witty writer with intriguing and inspirational insights into the human psyche; especially as it relates to this amazing group of endurance athletes. He quotes Mark Twain, “Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry”