Article Summary: A review of the Runner’s World book “Run Less, Run Faster” by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss
I first heard about Run Less, Run Faster and the FIRST training program in a brief Runner’s World article in early 2007 and was intrigued by the training concepts presented. The article discussed a relatively new training program, scientifically proven over a few years and hundreds of runners, based on running three days a week with integrated cross training on the off days. This short note lead me to the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training and eventually to this book (although at the time of my initial interest the book was not yet available). The concepts presented in this book, while not revolutionary, are definitely a departure from the classic “more miles is better” philosophy and the book has really changed the way I view my approach to training.
Run Less, Run Faster is a quick and easy read (only about 300 pages) that delivers a wealth of solid information at a level that is easy to understand and quickly allows the reader to put in to action the concepts and methods outlined. The book is broken down in to four main sections plus one bonus section:
- Section I: The FIRST Approach
- Section II: How to Follow the FIRST Training Program
- Section III: Performance Factors
- Section IV: Supplemental Training
- Bonus Section: Getting to Boston
This format allows the authors take you though the basics of the program clearly and concisely. The reader will quickly come up speed on the 3plus2 method, the 3 core workouts, and correct pacing for all of the prescribed workouts.
Section I lays out the basics of the plan, steps for new runners, and information on setting realistic goals. In reality, this is just a brief overview of the rest of the book—an introduction to the concepts explored in much more detail further on.
Section II dives much deeper in to the training program. The reader gets a full description of all of the core running workouts, what they aim to achieve, correct paces, and how to run them correctly. In addition to a detailed description of the program, there are plenty of pace charts and training plans to help the reader plan their specific training program. Finally, the authors provide important information on rest and recovery as well as year round training tips and tricks.
Section III covers a few topics that are common to all running programs. These topics include, running in hot and cold weather, training with and avoiding running related injuries, and basic nutrition information. These are all very brief sections but they include enough information to be helpful.
Section IV covers one basic topic—strength training for runners. The reader is given a clear plan that is fairly simple and easy to apply. No expensive weights or benches are necessary and the program, as delivered, should not take an excessive amount of time. A nice addition to any runner’s training regimen.
The last section of the book outlines what is necessary in terms of paces, training, and effort to qualify for Boston. It is broken down into the various age group qualifying times and gives the reader a few guidelines to look for to determine if a Boston qualifying run is possible based on past performance. I really appreciated the realistic view of what is necessary in terms of my current performance to qualify for Boston. Overall, this section is a nice addition to the book.
To me, this is a well written, well documented, and scientifically proven method to run faster on less miles. I am currently using the plan outlined in the book for my training plan for the 2007 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, so far the paces, distances, and volume of training have been just right. I really appreciate the change of pace from day to day and the inclusion of various forms of cross training, it really makes the program fun and interesting to work with.
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