Run Simple – Book Review

IMG_20140819_202907_168As someone who has been through a couple of running booms and has seen running go from basically: running shoes, shorts and t-shirt (maybe a painter’s cap or some kind of stopwatch), with a notebook to log your runs — to where it is now.

You know what I mean the:

  • GPS Watches
  • Heart rate monitors
  • Smart phones/apps
  • Fitness Trackers
  • Music/ear phones
  • Compression Gear
  • Hydration Gear
  • Belt pouches
  • Back packs for running
  • Tech Fabrics – socks, shirts, shorts, jackets, etc.
  • Online Training Logs
  • eZines, blogs, forums
  • The Internet and instant answers to all your running questions – information overload
  • Online Coaching
  • Online Shopping
  • Proliferation of high quality treadmills

Then there are so many running shoe choices, figuring out which ones are going to work for you is a whole different post?

I am not a Luddite when it comes to technology or adding/trying new stuff to help me become a better runner, if anything the opposite was the problem for a long while.

Unfortunately, I still get to feeling overwhelmed by all the “stuff” that seems to go along with or becoming a part of running in today’s world. So over the past couple of years I have looked to simplify my running where I can.

What do I really need to be happy as a runner?

Obviously not as much as I used to think, but a bit more than just a loin cloth.

I got some Amazon gift cards for my birthday and was looking for some new running books to read.

When I read the reviews for – Run Simple by Duncan Larkin, it intrigued me – a lot.

It seemed like something right up my alley.

Once it came in, I only needed a couple of days to read Run Simple and it actually had more than a  few ideas that I really liked.

Electronic Devices

No, I won’t be getting rid of my GPS watch or some other of my electronic devices any time soon – as Larkin tends to suggest. They are one more thing to charge, keep track of and sometimes wait until I get connection from the satellite, all of which can be a pain in the ass — although I think that I use them differently than some others do.

I find GPS a very valuable tool for tracking my training.  I will even admit I am starting to use the time/interval function on my TomTom GPS watch a little more often, especially when I am doing Fartlek type speed workouts. I find that I can focus on just going when it beeps/buzzes and slow back down when it does it again, then repeat. It eliminates thinking and allows me to focus more on just doing.

Also, immediately knowing the approximate distance and time I have run, without having to drive the course or map it using an online map actually makes my running life easier, especially when I am running on trails or just exploring.

The data I get to review and manipulate after the run (I am a geek after all) in my online training log, can let me spot trends or things I would not have seen otherwise in a PNP log.

However, during my runs outdoor, I find using GPS watches/apps or other electronics for more than getting my mile splits very distracting. I don’t want to always be looking down at my wrist or listen for my phone’s app, to see if I am doing a certain pace, getting my heart rate or other information about me and my run, that is available through the miracles of technology.

I almost always carry my smart phone with me, but I don’t take it out during the run, unless there is some kind of emergency, I am getting a call from a certain ring tone or if I am taking a photo.

When I am running on a treadmill though, I find that the music from my running playlist does help me ease the tedium that is part of running on one.

Race T-Shirts

What Larkin said about just using your race t-shirts for training, finally got me through my brain fog of “why was I attempting to save” the ho-hum race t-shirts that really do not have any special meaning to them other than finishing that race. So you will be seeing me running in more of my race t-shirts than I have been.

Although there are going to be certain Hall of Fame t-shirts that I will wear only on special occasions.

Training Tips

Larkin had quite a few interesting training tips that I really like and have started to incorporate some into my training:

Fast finishes up hills – especially when I run down-back with Bennie. We used to stop at the bottom of the hills, now we are finishing at the top, which is a hell of a lot more challenging and forces me to develop a little more mental toughness.

Just run days – something that I have done for a while, but didn’t have a good name for – I like the name “Just Run Days”. Run according to how you feel, it isn’t  recovery day, but at the same time it is not a speed work day – you just run.

Running to just run, takes away the pressure to hit a certain pace or time.

Track Workouts – As Larkin say says on page 36.

“Your effort on these sessions should be all-out. Hurl yourself down the that track. Push it. Take no prisoners. At the end of the repetition you should be breathing hard and may find yourself bent over with your hands on your knees, panting, and staring at pebbles and ants on the ground.”

It might not be the scientific way to do your speedwork or teach you to hit a particular pace, but…it is a lot simpler and will help you get faster, which is what I want when I go to the track – I want to work on going faster. He explains his philosophy a lot better than I can, but I tend to agree with it.

There is a difference in mindset when you do your track workout this way, which fits my personality.

Run Simple has a bunch of other things that I will be adding to my training routines, just because they make sense to me.

The reality is that

In order to run simple, it does not mean that I am going to go prancing down the road clad only in a loin cloth, the neighbors would really know that I have lost it and make some phone calls for someone to come and take me away hahahhehehahahaha (yes that is a part of an old song).

No it means that I am going to think about how or whether technology or other things are enhancing my running and if I can’t find a real benefit for adding or keeping something while I am running, I probably won’t.

Going forward I will probably always stay a little closer to the more simple end of the keeping things simple spectrum, even in how I use electronic devices or other new developments in running.

The book is a quick read and while I do not agree with everything Larkin recommends, I found a lot of stuff that appeals to me, fits where I am as a runner and the best part was that while reading Run Simple, it did make me stop and think about why I do certain things a certain way.

Larkin has a lot of idea, suggestions, etc., to simplify your running. If you read Run Simple you will see what I mean and maybe probably even find at least a couple that work for you.

3 thoughts on “Run Simple – Book Review

  1. Great review! This sounds like a really good/interesting read. Why it has never occurred to me to work on fast uphill finishes I don’t know, but that sounds like an excellent training tool that I’ll be using. 🙂

    I agree with you that devices can get really distracting so I do see where he’s coming from. Over the past year I’ve been trying to ignore them more and more and find that the less time I spend focusing on them, the better my pacing is. BUT I still want the data recorded most of the time so I won’t be ditching my Garmin altogether. 🙂

    1. Thank you. Like you I like the information a GPS device gives me and have set it up so the screen only shows total distance and time and mile intervals. It was a good book and I do not keep too many running books in my main library,but this one will stick around for a while.

  2. I love the basic idea around ‘running simple’ … and try to keep it all as simple as possible. But like you I am never giving up my GPS watch! 🙂

    I have always put my race shirts into general rotation … is that one of those weird superstitions like not wearing a race shirt given before the race until AFTER you finish?

    And we live on a small but somewhat steep hill, so I definitely love finishing by coming strong up that hill!

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