I will admit from the outset that I am a huge Brian MacKenzie fan, excessive tattoos, f-bombs and all. He has contributed immensely to the endurance community and the CrossFit community. I have trained under him, read his other book, “Power, Speed, Endurance”, and have been a follower of CrossFit Endurance (CFE) for several years. So I approached this book with a bias, expecting to greatly enjoy it. I was not disappointed.
The premise of the book is that any runner, regardless of age, race distance, or aspiration, can improve their performance by incorporating a few key elements to their training program. First is including a functional fitness component that includes heavy weight lifting, plyometrics, and basic bodyweight gymnastic movements, such as pull-ups and pushups. Brian MacKenzie and T.J. Murphy of course suggest CrossFit but acknowledge that it is not the effective program out there. Second is an emphasis on running drills and technique. Many runners fail to respect the fact that running is a skill that must be practiced for efficiency and proper mechanics. Lastly, instead of simply throwing in extra “junk miles”, that are likely to break the body down, they are in favor of high intensity intervals that train both the short and long distance capacity of the body.
This book is the basics. It is a short, easy read. It is not intended to be a technical, in depth discussion of running mechanics, training schedules, stretching, or endurance nutrition. It does, however, touch on all of those topics, is a great place to start, and mentions where to find more info on all of those topics. This is a starting point from which to guide you from where you are right now towards decreasing your injury rate and run times while increasing your overall health. It is a much easier read than the CFE manual, “Power, Speed, Endurance.” It is very simple to understand for both those that have zero exposure to CrossFit and those that have already been doing CrossFit or some other, high intensity form of functional fitness.
The authors do a great job of accomplishing the difficult task of making this book applicable to all skill levels. It breaks down the basics of CrossFit Endurance methodology, flexibility, form, nutrition, and combining strength and conditioning workouts of a CF style with high intensity speed work that comprises the CFE programming. They provide programs for those that are willing to jump head first into a CrossFit gym as well as those that would prefer to go it alone with limited home gym equipment required. They provide basic descriptions and photos of the foundation movements and drills and offer suggestions as to where further resources may be accessed. Lastly, they provide an array of easy to follow training schedules for beginner, intermediate, and elite runners to prepare for race distances ranging from 5K to ultramarathon.
This is an excellent, easy to read book and the first of its kind that gives any skill level of runner and CrossFitter the building blocks needed to improve run performance and health while decreasing injury.