I’m writing a book.

After talking with friends and looking at all the info I have laying around, I decided to put together a book that will combine looking at the science of running and a practical approach to training serious runners.  When I first started coaching I came up with what I called my cheat sheet guide to training, which was a couple page outline of my training philosophy.  As my coaching progressed, I’d add on details and go into more depth with each aspect in the training guide.  There was no plan in turning it into anything, it’s just the best way I learn and analyze.  If I outline, expand, and write out my views it makes me take a very critical look at my training viewpoints.  Long story short, this couple page training guide turned into a monster of a 40-50pg document, of which I had to create a real “cheat sheet guide” of a page or two to make it practical.  The point is, this document makes a terrific outline and foundation for a book on training runners.

On the Scientific side, I’ve had to write an almost 100pg critical review on everything that impacts running performance for school.  This serves as a great basis for the section of the book on the science of running.  My goal for this section is take a complete different perspective from most books discussing science and running.  Similarly to some of my blog posts (see Fallacy of VO2max or Running Shoes are wrong…) I am going to take a very critical look and try and answer the question “What limits performance” instead of simply detailing the basic science.  Essentially, I’ll be taking the viewpoint of a runner and coach to the science, instead of taking the exercise Science approach.  My hope is to meld the practical and scientific in a way that hasn’t been done before.

I must admit that I am new to the whole writing/book publishing stuff, so I’m just beginning to sort through those details  (writing a book proposal and query wasn’t too fun).

But, my question to the readers is, what do you want?  What’s in your ideal training book?

This isn’t going to be some dumb downed, paint by numbers training book.  My aim is for a book for serious runners looking to maximize performance.  There is a serious lack of information on training written entirely for serious runners, my hope is to help fill that void.

Lastly, here’s an interview I did on tips4running.com.  Thanks to David for doing a great job with it.

Get My New Guide on: The Science of Creating Workouts


    1. David Tiefenthaler on May 25, 2010 at 2:07 am

      Thanks for the interview Steve.

      I'd love to read your book! Good luck with it.

    2. RICK'S RUNNING on May 25, 2010 at 6:32 am

      Maybe you could turn it into an E-book.
      I like Marius bakken's training program which is an E-book, he has video's included for each section.
      i would like to see chapters on;
      correct running form.
      diet for max performance and recovery.
      best weight training exercises, plometrics.
      best way to warm up for a race.
      How to use mental training to push through the pain barrier.
      How to make the best use of your training time and cut out the crap that just makes you tired!

    3. Peter on May 25, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Hi Steve,

      cool, I am looking forward to reading your book. I would personally love to read a well structured review of the current training methods of the most successful distance coaches/athletes (e.g., Canova, Hudson, Rosa, Daniels etc.) with a focus on the differences and commonalities. Judging from your blog, you are also in a good position to review the current ideas on running mechanics/form.


      P.S. make sure you keep the references in the book. These days many publishers seem to guide their authors toward removing references from the text which is a pain for the scientifically minded reader.

    4. Anonymous on May 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

      Sound like an interesting book!

      Three topics I'd like to see included:
      1. Training for ST versus FT runners.
      2. Muscle tone.
      3. Non-specific lacate work.

      Good luck!

    5. Sazerac on May 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Steve. I'll echo those who would love to see info on biomechanics/running form.

      What I'd most like to see, though, is systematic guidelines for determining what type of training an individual runner best responds to. And then a roadmap for tailoring training specific to that runner.

      Another topic I've never seen covered well in a book is training for the serious non-elite amateur. I think I'm in the same boat as a lot of runners out there who really want to just run well all year and hopefully continuously improve. We have little interest in "peaking" because we're not running in high school, collegiate, or pro competition. That extra x% that can be eeked out with a planned peak (still not sure I buy into that concept at all) is not worth much when you're still going to be a long way back from the winners. There seems to be a lot of injury and overtraining risk associated with trying to hit a big performance at a specific time.

      Anyway, I really enjoy the blog and would definitely buy a book of yours that just went into more depth on the topics you cover here.

      Thanks for soliciting opinions!

    6. Fitz on May 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      Congrats Steve – writing a book is a tall order but it looks like you have a great starting point with that outline.

      The biggest over-arching topic I'd like to see is dispelling conventional wisdoms. You've touched upon this with weight training for runners and the VO2 Max post. I think a lot of people think there are some strict running rules written in stone (the 10% rule) that just aren't true. Some examples are:

      1) Run heel to toe.
      2) Don't increase mileage more than 10%/week.
      3) Stop at every water station in a marathon.
      4) Heavy weight = more muscle mass.

      The list goes on but I think you get the idea. Looking forward to it! – Fitz.

    7. Kyle Norman on May 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

      There are a lot of injured runners out there. (I've been one of them.) I and others I know have gotten little from most of the popular conventional approaches to overcoming chronic injuries. I'd like to see a truly thorough discussion on such issues as:
      – The site of the pain is rarely the site of the problem. And to that point…
      – Muscles are tight for a reason. Stretching them may not address the cause.
      – Joints in the foot (cuboid, navicular, cuniforms) must be mobile! And to that point…
      – How many high-level runners rely on external aids such as orthotics?
      – Endurance athletes spend a lot of time moving in one direction only (saggital plane) only. Discuss the value of maintaining mobility in the transverse and frontal planes.

      A few thoughts there… Sounds like you're doing a very good job documenting your thoughts and processes.

      Kyle Norman

    8. Tord on May 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

      I'm really looking forward to your book. Here is my list of topics/questions:
      – Does cooldown really enhance recovery? If not, are there other benefits?
      – Post-exercise stretching: when and why?
      – Changing form/stride/footstrike. How to know what to change? Has it been shown scientifically to enhance performance.
      – Can high-intensity "anaerobic" training impair aerobic capacity or (more important) performance? Under which conditions? Practical implications?
      – Scientific basis for training zones: Are some efforts/paces significantly better than others? Are there "dead zones" that should be avoided (for example between threshold pace and easy) except for race specific peaking?

    9. Anonymous on May 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      I would buy your book because you have shared so much documented information that you have used in pursing your Masters Degree. You are very open to new ideas and have demonstrated with your runners you coach that so many of the things work. Also a bit on injuries and dealing with some of the things you as a runner have experienced like the exercise induced asthma, severe allergies and thyroid issues would be great. Best of luck to someone who trys to help the sport and is so honest. Keep up the posting also-very helpful to us runners and coaches.

    10. Anonymous on May 29, 2010 at 12:52 am

      I enjoyed reading "Enhancing Recovery; Preventing Underperformance in Athletes", editor Michael Kellmann. Perhaps you could include some of your responses and ideas relating to this. I think it is interesting to note that "stress is stress", be it from training or other means, and that a wise training program takes these issues into consideration.

    11. Anonymous on May 29, 2010 at 1:03 am

      I definitely plan on getting this book

    12. stevemagness on May 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks all for the suggestions and support.

      Some very good ideas, many of which I hadn't considered! So I'm glad I asked.

      Obviously I can't cover everything. But so far I'm very pleased with how it's coming along. The focus will be similar to the blog, meaning a mixture and blend of science and what's done in the real world. Don't worry, there will be no dumbing down of the material, it's written for the serious runner/coach.

      Peter- The way I've got it set up now is that one section will focus on mainly the science aspects and will be very heavily cited and reference. The other section will be a practical training approach that won't have many references. I think that's the best way to satisfy the references vs. no references problem.

      Thanks again for the suggestions!

    13. Anonymous on June 4, 2010 at 7:10 pm

      It may be nice to include some philosophies such as "not training to train but training to race well". I believe it is not about having some huge workout that you or others can brag about to all the girls n such but to have consistent training that focuses on specific goals (and doesn't always have to be balls to the walls for that sake). Coach James Li stated this point briefly in http://coaching.uka.org.uk/audio/february-2010-endurance-qa-seminar/from-filter/ . There appeared to be a contrast between this and what Coach Warhurst was stating (he used the term "killer" workout, perhaps as if it was a good thing). I believe focusing on keeping your athletes healthy and giving them the APPROPRIATE stress is important, instead of being addicted to running faster or doing more work or whatever just because you can. I remember Vern Gambetta stated something along the lines of any bozo can do hard work.

    14. Pete on June 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      Great to hear that you're writing a book – if your blog is any indication, it will be excellent. I'll echo what others have said here and encourage you to try and dispel as many training myths as possible. "The Runner's Body" did a good job with this, but I found the lack of citations in that book to be very frustrating. If you plan to use scientific research to dispel myths, citations are a must (Noakes does a nice job of this in Lore of Running, even if his Lit Cited is only available on-line). Good luck writing, and if you need a reader of an early draft, I'd be happy to help!


    15. michaelchasetx on June 24, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      Steve, please consider providing an eBook with Paypal.
      I'd like to see in the book your programming for 1600m & 5km runners, programming for middle-school -vs- high school -vs- college runners. Sections on nutrition, running technique … including good hip extension, shoes & injury prevention.
      I appreciate what you have shared with the running community!

    16. Ivan on July 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      Dont make it like a Bible just post training stuff. We don't need a nutritional guide or how to stretch but just how to create a legit program for mile to 10k.

    17. Ben on July 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm


      I believe that there is so much useful information that you have uncovered and shared over the years that you could certainly fill more than one book.
      For starters, I certainly would be interested in hearing about base buliding / periodization and the steps approaching a peak.
      Also sample training plans with details regarding who they would work for and why.

      Looking forward to the book, best of luck!

    18. Juha on November 16, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      I would like a book to have more complete analysis of biomechanics, technique and causality. Like here, analysis about low back kick in this article:

      And how defects in technique result in injuries or what else might cause injuries, analysis what is caused by injury and how to fix that defect in technique. In other words list of injuries and what may cause them and how to fix the problem. And list of defects and so on..

      In running form it would also be good to know why different things are done in running, for example, what is purpose of arm swing and why it changes in different running speeds, what is the point in keeping fingers in loose fist instead of completely relaxed.. In many books it's just told how things should be done but not really why or how it affects.

    19. Anonymous on June 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      Very good idea, this book! I frequently refer to your site for a reflected and up-to-date opinion on all kinds of running aspects, whenever something pops up in a discussion with other runners. I would wish the book to cover in detail the perfect running technique/biomechanics considering also the individual physiology of runners (e.g. different leg lengths,…). In addition drills for achieving this technique, common errors, how to spot them and drills or hints of how to correct them. Instead of pre-fabricated training schedules I would rather prefer to know the effect of certain training elements and how to combine them (e.g. as your post about sprint training). The result should allow me to understand the effects of traing sessions and to arrange my own schedule. And please use sketches for explanation; they are sometimes extremely useful. I am very much looking forward to this book; Torsten

    20. Anonymous on June 18, 2011 at 2:43 am

      Still writing this? I'd love to read it. Any suggestions on other training books to read?

    21. Weight Training for Women on October 12, 2011 at 5:38 am

      A valuable article this, thanks for sharing it. Crime in todays society is increasing at an alarming rate despite what the authorities advise us and this advice could well prove to be valuable to homeowners.

    22. Mark E. on November 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      A sample weekly schedule for different parts of the season that includes warmup/cooldown, sprints/strides, ancillary work, strength work, and what types of run to do what days.

    23. RD on December 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

      I'm not sure it fits into the theme of this book, but how about training high school runners. Obviously, since this book is about "serious" runners, then limit the info to "serious" HS runners. In particular, dispelling common myths, limits to a 14 year old vs. a 17 year old, boy vs girl, can 15 yr olds safely run 100 mile weeks? Stuff like that.

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