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The Complete Book of Running for Women + Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance (Runner's World Complete Books) + Running and Walking for Women Over 40 : The Road to Sanity and Vanity
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reissue edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671017039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671017033
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Claire Kowalchik is the former managing editor at RUNNER'S WORLD magazine. She has run eight marathons, countless road races, and is an assistant instructor for a women's running group.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One: Running for the Body
Better to hunt in fields, for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
The wise, for cure, on exercise depend;
God never made his work for man to mend.

-- John Dryden, Epistle to John Driden of Chesterton (1700)

Why take up running? Because it is the simplest, fastest, most accessible way to fitness and good health known to woman. You don't need a partner; you don't need equipment, a court, or a gym; and you don't need much time. A mere 20 minutes three or four times a week is enough to make you fit, although most of us find that 20 minutes isn't enough to satisfy our desire to run.
Those who say they haven't time for running are simply making excuses. The morning, before the family wakes or work begins, is free time for most of us. If not, how about during your lunch hour or after you come home from the office? Just 20 minutes. It might seem difficult at first -- even the slightest changes in routine can take some getting used to -- but before you know it, you'll be figuring out ways to find 30 minutes, 40 minutes...an hour for running.
Then there are others who say running is just too hard, too painful. They wrinkle up their noses at the mere thought of it. Running is hard, but that's one of the reasons we love it. We feel special as runners because we can endure. Besides, running gets easier. The reason many people say it's painful is because they go out for their first run and virtually sprint for as long as they can -- which isn't very long -- with their chest heaving, their tongues lolling, their muscles straining until finally they can go no farther. They stop and pant, hands on their hips, wobbly kneed. "I -- gasp -- hate -- gasp -- running," they say.
So would I if I ran like that every day. Running is not an act of will over body -- the brain whipping the legs to go as fast as they can as long they can (except when you really are sprinting). When you're running, your mind and body work in tandem toward an enjoyable continuum of movement over the ground. In the beginning, when your body is not yet capable of blazing speeds, your mind should say, Okay, slow down. Let's go at a pace that's comfortable for you.
Now that you don't have any excuses not to start, here are several reasons to begin running if you haven't already and to continue running if you have.

Running Is the Quickest and Most Efficient Means of Weight Loss
Let's compare running to another popular and convenient fitness activity -- walking. In 20 minutes of running at a relaxed 10-minute-per-mile pace, a 130-pound woman burns 200 calories. In 20 minutes of walking at 15 minutes per mile (a brisk pace), a 130-pound woman burns only 72 calories. Of the 200 calories burned running, roughly 100 come from fat and 100 from carbohydrates. The 20 minute walk burns 54 fat calories and 18 carbohydrate calories. Furthermore, studies show that running increases your resting metabolic rate (meaning you burn more calories even when you're not active) and improves your body composition by reducing body fat. The clear result of all of this is a leaner, trimmer figure.
Vanity aside, managing your weight is one of the most important things you can do for your health, well-being, and longevity. Obesity is a heavy contributor to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, breast cancer, and diabetes.

Running Reduces Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, the Number-One Killer of Women
In the Nurses Health Study of 73,029 women aged 40 to 65, conducted by JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, the rate of heart attack was found to be 44 percent lower among the most active women compared with those who were sedentary.
Running has several effects that lower your risk of cardiovascular disease:
  • Running strengthens your heart.
  • Running reduces the risks of blood clot formation.
  • Running lowers blood triglycerides (fat).
  • Running lowers total cholesterol levels.
  • Running raises levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as "good" cholesterol.
  • Running prevents the stiffening of arteries that comes with age.

High mileage seems to have the best effect on raising HDL cholesterol levels, whereas running faster is better for lowering triglycerides, according to a study by Paul T. Williams, M.D., of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California. Williams's research looked at 1,837 female runners who were grouped according to weekly mileage: 0 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 or more miles. HDL cholesterol levels rose with mileage -- those in the 40-plus mileage group showing the highest levels. Also, as mileage increased, heart rate and body mass index (BMI; a calculation of weight based on height) decreased. Williams concluded that women who run 40 miles or more a week decrease their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent. He pointed out, however, that significant benefits are accrued at lower levels of weekly mileage as well.

Running Lowers Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Williams also noted in his study that running lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Though the women who put in more weekly mileage showed the lowest figures for blood pressure and pulse, Williams found that fast running seemed to have an even greater effect -- a good reason to do speed training and take up racing.

Running Reduces Your Risk of Stroke, the Second Leading Killer of Women
Given that running helps lower blood pressure and keeps the cardiovascular system healthy, it's not surprising that it can also help prevent stroke. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and reported in the British Medical Journal (July 24, 1993) compared 125 men and women who had just had their first stroke with 198 men and women who had never had a stroke. In looking at the activity levels of these groups, the researchers concluded that vigorous exercise -- defined as running, swimming, cycling, and other strenuous activities -- "confers substantial protection against stroke. These effects were seen in both sexes and all age groups." The Nurses Health Study also shows that exercise prevents stroke, finding that active women have a 42 percent lower rate of stroke than do sedentary women.

Running Lowers Your Risk of Breast Cancer
For several years, health experts have suspected that physical activity may lower the risk of breast cancer, and recently a significant study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine supports this theory. Over a 13-year period, researchers in Norway studied 25,624 women aged 20 to 54. They grouped these women according to level of activity: sedentary, moderate exercisers ("those who spent at least four hours a week walking, bicycling or engaging in other types of physical activity"), and regular exercisers ("those who spent at least four hours a week exercising to keep fit and participating in recreational athletics" plus "those who engaged in regular, vigorous training or participated in competitive sports several times a week"). They found that the regular exercisers -- the most active group -- had a 37 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared with the sedentary group. The moderate exercisers showed a 7 percent lower risk.
When looking only at premenopausal women, the risks of breast cancer were even lower with physical exercise. "Our results support the idea that physical activity protects against breast cancer, particularly among premenopausal and younger postmenopausal women," the researchers concluded. The theory behind the protective effects of activity is that vigorous exercise, such as running, may suppress the secretion of estrogen and progesterone, which have been linkedto breast cancer. Also, the lower levels of triglycerides seen in physically active women reduce the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream.

Running Enhances Your Immune System
Most runners rarely get sick, and the reason is that running boosts the immune system. Researchers have determined this by measuring blood levels of lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack disease-causing antigens) and finding higher concentrations during and after exercise. It seems your body reacts to running as if a foreign invasion were occurring, and it recruits an army of lymphocytes to allay the onslaught. (During extremely long runs, however, especially those of high intensity -- such as the marathon -- so many lymphocytes are called into action that the reserves become depleted. Your immune system then becomes depressed, and you become more susceptible to illness. This is why runners often come down with a cold after a marathon. You can also wear down your immunity by running too many miles at too high an intensity in your regular training.)
Running also prevents that natural decline of immunity that occurs as we age. In 1993, David Nieman, Ph.D., and colleagues at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, compared the immune systems of active elderly women (who had been exercising aerobically for more than an hour a day for several years), sedentary elderly women, and sedentary young women aged 19 to 25. They found that the activity of T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells-two types of lymphocytes essential to immune function -- was significantly higher among the active elderly women than in the sedentary elderly group and comparable to that seen in the young women. "The T-cells of the elderly active women were functioning like those in women half their age," says Nieman. Other good news: a 1997 study of women, activity levels, and causes of death showed that those who were most active had a considerably lower risk of death from respiratory diseases than did sedentary women.

Running May Prevent Diabetes and Help Those with This Disease to Manage It More Efficiently
Running burns glucose (blood sugar) for energy, which helps prevent glucose levels from rising too hig...

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The book is very informative for new runners.
Joanna
If you only buy one book about running for women(and indeed, after you read it you'll only need this one), get this one.
A. Carroll
This year, I have started entering into races, and I have fallen in love with the sport of running all over again!!
H. Schiesher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Erin on February 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! I am a beginning runner and read this book from cover to cover. It is EXTREMELY helpful! There are chapters that cover everything from selecting running shoes, evaluating running surfaces, running while pregnant, running during menopause, etc. My favorite item is a 10 week beginner's running schedule that lays out a very easy run/walk plan that culminates in the ability to run for 30 min (about a 5K). For you advanced runners, there are also schedules with much higher mileage, i.e. marathons or half-marathons.

Kowalchik covers issues for all runners as well as issues specific to women. She also addresses topics such as nutrition, cross-training, and injury prevention.

This book is ideal for the beginning to advanced runner. This book definitely helped and motivated me. Give it a try.
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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
After 2 kids and a "not-so-active" lifestyle, I was looking for information on starting a running and training program to run my first 5K. This was EXACTLY what I was hoping to find in a beginners guide! And when I'm feeling a little sluggish or lazy about my training- I just read a few pages and I'm ready to tie on my running shoes! This book even told me where to buy an excellent sports bra! I would recommend this book to anyone looking to begin an active lifestyle- no matter how active (or inactive) you may have been!
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By erica on November 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for runners of every level! Not only does Claire take you through shopping for shoes, bras and treadmills, she explains how running is affected by menapause, pregnancy.. she talks about eating disorders and proper nutrition.. What i like the best is all the training information. How to do pace workouts, speed drills, strides, how to breathe and how do weighlift.. A great book overall!
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Bach on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I used this book to start running again after a fourteen year hiatus. The beginner's schedule for running/walking is what got me going (don't forget a sports watch)--the anecdotes and stories written by other women kept me inspired. I've long since lost this book because I've lent it out so many times, but I recommend it to every woman who tells me they'd like to start, in fact, I did just this morning which is why I looked it up on Amazon. It's been seven years since I hit the road, and now I run four miles every other day. It's changed and strengthened my body, increased my stamina, provided a clear space in my mind and allowed me to get to know myself better. Give it a try! You have nothing to lose and many things to gain.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By breazey on February 17, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is EXCELLENT, I think I have read it cover to cover probably at least 3 times. It covers EVERYTHING you need to know about running, including nutrition, training, weight concerns, motivation, racing, and special women concerns such as pregnancy and menopause. I ran only a one short race when I recieved this book as a gift, and as I read it I became SO inspired that I decided to do a marathon! Through all my training, I think I referenced back to this book at least every other day, and the answer I was looking for was always there. Never in my life did I think I would EVER run 26 miles, but now thanks to this book and becoming so inspired, I can proudly say for the rest of my life "Once when I was 24 years old, I ran a marathon . . . "
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am so glad I bought this book! Claire's advice is comprehensive and she covers virtually every subject that is of interest to women runners. She talks about training for different races, nutrition, special concerns for women, running safely, stretching, weight training, and more. I recommend this training guide for any woman who is interested in beginning a running program or is looking to improve her running. This is a great buy!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jay K. on July 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was extremely disappointed in this book. It was marketed not only towards beginners but also seasoned runners. If you have been running for any amount of time, this book has very little to offer. If you are a beginner or just looking to start running, this book may be helpful. It seems to be written to help women feel motivated and empowered to run, but not as a training guide. This book does cover many topics, but does not go into any detail or provide supporting information. If you need help getting started, finding motivation, or just some general info then you may want to check this book out.

Considering the author is a former editor for Runner's World, I was surprised that in several places in the book she demeans the stereotypical female-runner body type saying that it is unattractive and not what women should aspire to attain. I have been an avid runner for 8 years and was slightly offended that a book on running would speak so negatively about having a thin physique, especially since I know many high-mileage runners that would like to gain weight but can't. Basically, if you already are, or want to get more serious about running, this book is not the appropriate resource.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book makes every woman feel as though they can achieve anything by giving the motivation to do everything. It not only gives the facts, but it gives reasons to run, how to run, where to run, everything you need to know about running, especially for a woman. It first gives you the health reasons to run and then gives you REAL reasons--to make yourself proud of your self. The book not only gives motivation, it gives you ways to keep up the motivation, and not get sick of the running, because we all know we can keep up with a schedule for a week and it is all over. But, this book makes it so its all over when YOU WANT it to be over--never! The book hits every point that a normal running book would, but it also hits every point a woman needs to hear. It is a great book. So, if you need motivation, reason, facts, and ways to achieve your goal, well, Get This Book.
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