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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite running book...this one is a must read for Marathon runners.
Let me start by saying that I'm a 42 year old runner who got back into running about a year ago. Was way out of shape and knew I needed a big goal in order to get my brain to take things seriously. Chose to run the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon and got started with 20 week training program. I managed to finish, but made many rookie errors along the way. However, I was...
Published on April 1, 2009 by M. Lee

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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PRXC
Fitzgerald's new book is not as good as the "Cutting Edge Runner." The book looks thick, but there isn't as much substance to it as you would think. This is because half the book consists of training plans. Fitzgerald does back up a lot of what he says with scientific research, but there are still some conclusions he draws that experienced distance runners reading the...
Published on September 26, 2007 by Charles R. Connolly Jr.


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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite running book...this one is a must read for Marathon runners., April 1, 2009
By 
M. Lee (San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
Let me start by saying that I'm a 42 year old runner who got back into running about a year ago. Was way out of shape and knew I needed a big goal in order to get my brain to take things seriously. Chose to run the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon and got started with 20 week training program. I managed to finish, but made many rookie errors along the way. However, I was hooked so I started reading every book I could get my hands on in an effort to run faster, more efficiently, and pain free.

Of all the books, I had narrowed my "favorites" down to three = Lore of Running by Timothy Noakes, ChiRunning by Danny Dryer, and Run Less Run Faster by the Runners World and the Furman Institute. I found these books contained the science, running form, and training plan I needed that made the most sense and seemed to be the most current, effective information available.

When I received Brain Training for Runners, I was immediately impressed and I'm happy to report that it does an excellent job of summarizing the key points in my three favorites noted above and is now my new favorite.

If you are ready to take your running to a new level, I strongly recommend you read this book. The author does a good job of explaining the role our brains play so you can understand what's going on behind the scenes...and train smarter to push through mental barriers that may be holding you back from your true potential. He is a believer in the "central governor model" proposed by Timothy Noakes and I think he does a great job explaining how it all works in layman's terms us runners can comprehend.

In my opinion, the author also does a great job of explaining stride mechanics and providing some excellent cues for you to focus on while running to improve your stride. I found ChiRunning to be an excellent book regarding how to use gravity to run more efficiently and reduce injuries. However, it wasn't until I read Brain Training that I put it all together and now I'm just amazed at the difference it has made in my running.

In Brain Training, the author talks about the ballistic style of running that elite runners use and how they are actually floating in the air the majority of the time. Practicing his cues helped me evolve my stride to emulate the elite runner form and all I can say is wow. The real world changes for me, based on actions I took after reading Brain Training, are nothing short of amazing. Over a period of 3 weeks, I have seen my target marathon pace drop by a full 30 seconds per mile. I now run much faster when doing track intervals and the speed of tempo runs is mind boggling. I continually focus on the authors cues and somehow I am now running my long runs considerably faster with a lower average heart rate!

Should also point out that the training plans the author suggests are very similar to the Run Less Run Faster plans where focus is on 3 quality key runs per week. Difference being that the author is more flexible in his approach whereby he advises you to alter your plan last minute based on how you feel during your workout. He's all about adaptability and also provides an excellent table you can reference to pick target training speeds based on your current perceived fitness level. Something he says you will increase 4 to 6 times over the course of an 18 to 24 month training program. The author also includes a lot on stretching, strength exercise, and nutrition that I found helpful.

In summary, The author really does a great job of covering the full spectrum and putting it all into an easy to follow plan you can customize to your own unique fitness level and self-coach yourself to be a faster runner. I truly believe this is a must read for all runners who are looking to run faster and hit new PR's.
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105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Training your brain, September 27, 2007
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
Author, coach, triathlete and Active Expert Matt Fitzgerald presents a revolutionary approach to running in his latest book, Brain Training for Runners. Fitzgerald compiled evidence from the latest research in exercise physiology that challenges conventional runner's wisdom by shifting focus to a "brain-centered" model.

The two-part book begins with a well thought out presentation of the brain-training system applicable to runners of all experience levels. Fitzgerald's motto, "train the brain and the rest will follow," explains how the main goal of brain-training is to develop a heightened awareness for feedback from the running experience to increase maximal capacity, efficiency of stride and injury-prevention.
The Brain Training System

The three feedback loops--collective, objective and subjective--compose the awareness center of the brain-training system. The first step in transitioning to a brain-centered training model is with a thorough understanding of the feedback loops, which Fitzgerald explains extensively in the book. Basically, the collective feedback loop includes classic training strategies; the objective feedback loop records and applies your own performance data such as speed, distance and heart rate to customize the brain-training system; and the subjective feedback loop is information relayed from body to brain through experience. Developing effective communication of this feedback is essential to getting the most from your training.

Fitzgerald's journey through the biology of the brain was a tad overwhelming, but he actually suggests that the reader skip forward to the next section, which illustrates how well he knows his audience.

For example, I can see how the scientific community would benefit from the breakdown of how the "fatty sheath insulates axon-dendrite connections," but it was over my head, so I chose to follow the author's advice and skip ahead to the section on brain-training plans.

Part II of Brain Training for Runners is a selection of plans that are based on the brain-training model from part I. These plans are for the 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon distances and, as Fitzgerald explains, they are flexible to promote responsive training and injury-prevention.
Brain Training at Work

Before I encountered Fitzgerald's book, my training was struggling with a lack of direction, and I had two important events approaching: a 5K race and a 50-mile ultra marathon. I applied the brain-centered system to my own training and competition. As my focus shifted from body to brain, a fresh supply of potential was unlocked.

I experienced my first brain-training breakthrough during my 5K race. I had just finished reading a section about the mechanism of "teleoanticipation," which Fitzgerald describes as "knowing intuitively just how much to hold back at the beginning of a maximal running effort to complete the effort without anything left in the tank, yet also without any decline in performance." I was making a conscious evaluation of my abilities as a runner on that given day with what Fitzgerald calls "subconscious brain calculation." Essentially, I was convincing my brain to allow me to sustain my goal pace for the entire duration of the race. Three six-minute-miles later, I had done just that.

During the past month of brain-training, I have not only run the fastest mile split of my athletic career in a 5K race, but I also completed my first 50-mile ultra marathon less than two weeks later. This book provided the mental edge I was looking for and was the catalyst for my recent performance breakthrough.

My favorite advice from Fitzgerald is his incorporation of proprioceptive cues into each of these training plans. Fitzgerald states, "Proprioceptive cues are images and other sensory cues that enable you to modify your stride for the better as you think about them while running." This gives runners a means to monitor and improve their stride during each workout with drills and offers a valuable edge over conventional training systems.

As a multi-sport athlete, I was also happy with Fitzgerald's consistent focus on the customization of training. His assimilation of cross-training and variety into workouts along with the "brain-centered" model made it a no-brainer for me to believe in this system. He even included a section on corrective stretches with pictures and descriptions of each yoga-like movement.

Fitzgerald has taken the science of running to a whole new level with this book. Brain Training for Runners is for any runner searching for a customizable system that supports the continued development of the mind and the body. I am training and competing on a whole new level because of what I discovered while reading this book and have never been more confident in my potential as an athlete because I now have a better understanding of how my brain regulates my body--not the other way around.

[...]
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars PRXC, September 26, 2007
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
Fitzgerald's new book is not as good as the "Cutting Edge Runner." The book looks thick, but there isn't as much substance to it as you would think. This is because half the book consists of training plans. Fitzgerald does back up a lot of what he says with scientific research, but there are still some conclusions he draws that experienced distance runners reading the book will disagree with. This is especially the case with his chapter on hydration. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald does an excellent job of incorporating new ideas on training into his book. There is probably nobody better than him at keeping runners updated on the latest advances in training research and methods. While the book may not be as good as "The Cutting Edge Runner" it is well worth reading for any runner of any level.
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69 of 84 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just one question for Fitzgerald, June 2, 2008
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
I have one question for Fitzgerald and those who rave about this book and the author's mixture of triathlete training and the proven philosophies of coach Jack Daniels: Do the great African runners (Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco) do a lot of cross training or triathlons? I think you all know the answer to that is a resounding no. They run. They run multiple times daily. They run in groups that push each other in each run. They have fun. They live and eat together. They run on dirt all the time and avoid injury. They wear light minimalistic training shoes that allow the foot to actually move and spread out properly. They run constantly on hilly or mountainous terrain. But they don't cycle, and they don't spend any time in swimming pools or the weight room at Gold's Gym. They improve their running by focusing on their running and enjoying the spirit of community competition. It is part of their culture. Americans and Europeans can't compete in the distance events because they will not train in this manner. Americans run on asphalt, generally avoid mountainous terrain, wear thick clunky shoes advertisers have convinced them are necessary to protect their heels, strike with their heels with each footstrike, and then wonder why they get hurt and aren't as fast as their international competitors.

To combine the principles of a great triathlete's training with the running philosophy of Jack Daniels may be "revolutionary" in the sense that no one has put such a combination forward promising improvement for runners, but that may be because it is a combination that overlooks the fact that the worlds best runners don't use any such training ideas. Cross-training may give a brief mental break from the demands of running, but many people run because it is the simplest and least expensive way to exercise: No gym membership needed, no bicycle equipment (big $), no need for a pool or the danger of open water swim areas, you just put on a good pair of shoes and head out the door. If cross training were the answer for major running improvement, everyone in the world would have been cross-training for decades. However, the world's best runners do very little, if any, cross training.

Days later now, and I will modify this review to say that the sections in this book about the psychology of running and how to train the brain to push through fatigue are well done, and the portions that focus on specific exercises to develop core strength are also quite useful and easily incorporated into even the least experienced runner's training. There are good sections on racing and how to prepare for competition, whether your goal is first place or a PR. These are the book's strength. I stand by my evaluation that cross training is emphasized a bit too heavily in some sections, but don't throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say, and miss the useful parts of the book because of the cross-training "revolutionary" revelations.
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, but needs a bibliography and proper references, January 19, 2008
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
This book is thick and looks meaty, but half of it is comprised of stock training programs that may or may not work for a given individual.

The author cites numerous studies but rarely, if ever, tells the reader what the titles of the studies are, where they were conducted, or where the results were originally published. Simply saying "Studies show that..." or "A study done in (insert place name) revealed..." wears thin after a while. As a trained researcher, I was disappointed that these claims weren't backed up very well. The lack of a proper bibliography or list of references definitely caught my attention.

This author clearly has significant experience and enthusiasm. It would appear, however, that most of the evidence cited in this book is based on his personal experience or anecdotes, rather than science.

I found the book easy to read and follow, but I would have liked more evidence to support his claims.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - Best Running Book I've Read, February 3, 2008
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This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
I read a lot of running books but for me, this is the best. It's an easy read with a lot of useful training tips. His exercises have really helped me. I've been suffering for 2 years with groin/hip pain and have spent a small fortune on doctors to no avail. The exercises and training plans in this book have got me back running, pain-free. I run by myself so having a good training plan and "virtual coach" has been great. I think you'll find something helpful for your running in this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One step beyond, February 14, 2008
By 
reetstowell "Reet" (Grants Pass, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
I do love this book. It articulates a lot of advice that I thought about in training with facts to back it up. It makes sense! I have been running for 20 years & felt somewhat stagnant in my progress to improve & this technique has moved me into a different realm of running. I feel great & attribute that to training differently by incorporating Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runners" into my daily routine. I would definitely recommend this book for all runners from beginners to elites!

Reet
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing too particularly new or interesting., February 13, 2010
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This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
When I first came across this book, I became quite excited by its heft; unfortunately only the first 1/3rd or so is actually about this "new" training method. The second part of the book is chart after chart of weekly training plans for races. The reason I say there isn't anything really new contained in this book is because the writer throws hordes of findings and study results at the reader only to reinforce his key concept. It feels like chapter after chapter of the same thing. Plus, his research pretty much boils down to: If you want to run a faster race, you have to run faster in training... that's a no-brainer in in my opinion, but kudos for filling 200 pages with research findings. All in all, I would classify this book as one that could be skipped over; however, if you like research and have some extra time to do some reading, it couldn't hurt to sift through the pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good For New Runners, January 18, 2011
This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
This book contains a lot of good information and much of it seems to make sense. I do believe that the brain controls fatigue and thee are ways to train your body to push back the brains precieved limits. However, for a well above average to elite runner the workouts and excerises in the book seem to me to have very little effect and appear to be more centered toward the up and coming runner or simply a recreational runner. I do not trust these workouts to push me to the maximums that I hope to acheive as a running veteran, nor do i believe people should, but I do however enjoy thinking about and analyzing the evidence and information as layed by this book, and believe much of it is true, but i advise any runner to be critical of the training plans as layed out in this book and when in doubt trust the workouts that have brought you success.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for Slow Runners Looking to Improve, April 12, 2014
By 
Knitting Archaeologist (Somerville, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results (Paperback)
I have been bitten by the running bug since I decided to use running to improve my fitness. I've always been athletic, but the one thing I was never good at was running. Having finished the Couch-2-5K, I was interested in learning how to properly continue my training. This is my sixth book, and while I was excited about some of the concepts (running at desired paces versus feeling your way to a pace), most of the book is dedicated to training plans. This is odd to me for two reasons. 1) There is a strong emphasis placed on flexibility and adapting training to the individual. Why then give 4 chapters over to plans for 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and marathons? As someone with no desire to ever run halfs or full marathons, that's wasted space. But also, the plans don't fit my lifestyle or needs. 2) Although the author spends a fair amount of time talking about how accessible this method is for everyone, he clearly only means those who are already successful runners. Case in point, the entire program is predicated on the slowest 5k finish time being a little over 30 minutes. Really??? That seems pretty absurd given the number of articles and books I've read about how the average runner is somewhere around 12-13 minutes per mile.

If the goal is to give people information to train smarter and harder, to improve their speed through diligence and pace specificity, why eliminate such a large group of people? I was very disappointed after reading through everything to get to the training section and realize I was a full 15 minutes slower than the lowest TPL. Having no way to create an additional 20+ levels, there is no way I could follow this plan even if I wanted to. I really wish runners and trainers would remember that not everyone is trying to run a 5k in 15 minutes. Some of us just want to get to our own personal best. Even if that is a very slow 40 minutes...
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Brain Training For Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results
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