Tuesday, 26 March 2019

One of the best books on running you'll ever read {Book review: Your best stride by Jonathan Beverly}

This post is NOT sponsored or paid in any way. It's just my honest opinion on a book that, I think, can and will change your running for the better if you put in the hard yards.


I recently stumbled upon Jonathan Beverly's book, Runner's World Your Best Stride, in our local library. And while a quick flip through its pages definitely piqued my interest, I had my doubts. For one, the "Runner's World" part of the title made it seem like one of those general, beginner-focused books on all things running. And while I loved those at the start of my running journey, I crave something with a little more meat to the bone these days. Secondly, I felt that the picture on the cover didn't depict what I would associate with "optimal running form". (Not that my running form is anywhere near praiseworthy, just FYI!) But with a front leg that lands (quite far) in front of the hips instead of under it, and a back leg that doesn't seem to swing back and engage the glutes, it struck me as an odd picture to choose for the cover of a book on optimal running form. 




Thankfully I ignored these doubts and took the book home anyway.

What an absolute delight! Well-written, with loads of specialist input and mentions of scientific research, this book manages to summarise decades' worth of info and findings in a single, easy-to-read resource. And I use the word 'resource' because it's definitely not the kind of book that you read once and then pack away for life. Instead, it's a resource that you read through once and then return to again and again, armed with markers, colour-coded sticky notes, and a steely determination to do what needs to be done in order to optimise your natural running form.  


What I really love about this book, is the fact that it doesn't try to change your own, natural running form. It doesn't promise to bring an end to all your running woes if you'll just start prancing around on your toes instead of heel-striking or increase your cadence to x steps per minute. It does, however, give you a well-written, easy to understand and science-backed rundown of all the factors that are more than likely contributing to your less-than-ideal running form, plus clear, doable recommendations on how to change that.

Note that this book is not a quick fix. If you're really serious about optimising your natural running form, prepare to do things like weeks (and weeks!) of consistent hip flexor stretching. Prepare to, for the rest of your days on this planet, clean your teeth like a flamingo balancing on one leg. Prepare to do a quick set of clam shells or air squats every time your coffee maker does its thing. And prepare to, once and for all, add some strides and dynamic stretching to most of your running workouts. And it doesn't end there.


Doing toe splays with Mum. Pure concentration!


If all of that (and the book recommends many more, depending on your personal weak spots) sounds like too much trouble, you probably a) haven't reached the age where you realize that running, alone, is not enough, or b) are content with shuffling along in an inefficient manner for the rest of your days. Either way, I truly believe that incorporating, little by little, the recommendations contained in this book that are relevant to you and your specific situation/history/running style, and keeping at it, will absolutely change your running form for the better.  

Your best stride by Jonathan Beverly is an informative, enjoyable read - I highly recommend it!



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