Book Review: The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Ryan Robert, the author of 'The Ultimate Beginners Running Guide: The Key to Running Inspired.' He sent me a complimentary copy of the Kindle edition to read and review. It admittedly took me longer than I'd like with everything going on lately, but I've now read the book and want to share my thoughts.

The book is targeted to readers who have just started running or who want to start running and aren't sure how to do so. The book begins by outlining how running can benefit our minds as well as our physical bodies. Ryan follows this with a chapter on getting ready to run; mechanics of form, keeping a running log, and common questions are highlighted in this section. I enjoyed reading through the form section because it's a helpful reminder of how important form can be as well as how to do specific movements. At the end of the chapter, he reiterates the main tips and tricks to help readers focus on the most important points to remember.

Next, the book goes through footwear and pronation. The book is written from a non-barefoot running perspective, talking about orthotics and shoes to correct for foot issues. This is fine with me as I haven't gotten into minimalist or barefoot running thus far, but it's a good point to note for anyone reading the book and considering this. My favorite points here are that going to a running store to get fitted is important, and I like the suggestion to alternate two pairs of shoes to allow them time to dry and decompress. I'm not positive this is anything but helpful for me mentally, but I do generally stick to this idea.

Chapter three goes into detail on warm up, cool down, and target heart rates. I like that Ryan says runners need to 'decide for themselves what types of stretches they do, and when stretching will work best for them.' I think this is super important and that people get to know what their body needs and when, and I agree that static stretching of cold muscles might not be as helpful. He outlines a few ways to warm up muscles without just static stretching and follows it with methods of stretching post-run. Again, I like the section of tips and summaries at the end of each chapter to highlight the most important parts.

The next sections of the book discuss being confident, improving performance, staying motivated, and nutrition. Ryan gives a number of tips for each of these that may be helpful to beginners. The section on improving performance via speed work and hill repeats was good, but I had more difficulty relating to some of the motivational suggestions. I'm pretty sure this is because I've been running for a few years and have my own motivations now; I know how good I feel and what it can really do for me!

After this, the book talks about running in adverse weather conditions and common injuries. I really liked both of these topics; there is interesting information about what to wear and how to handle conditions like extreme hot or cold which could be helpful to anyone and especially to new runners. The injury section went through common issues including 'runner's knee,' Plantar Fasciitis,  muscle strains, and shin splints. I'm pretty sure I've attempted to self-diagnose each of these via the internet at some point, so having them listed in one place for comparison was useful to read.

The final parts of the book provide training schedules to help beginner runners get going and ideas on how to run inspired. The schedules are basic but would likely be helpful to people starting out. The inspiration part was again harder for me to relate to as a long time runner, but I'm confident that beginners would find it useful as they get going and become more focuses on running or fitness.

Overall, my impression of the book is that it would be helpful to new runners. Those of us who have been running for a long time might not relate to the book as well, although we could still be interested in sections related to form and common injury descriptions. It's a pretty quick read, and going back through the section summaries or tips makes it easy to find the topics.

Thanks to Ryan Robert for sending me the book!


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