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Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot Paperback – August, 1998
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"I tried Parker's heart rate monitor training program for two months, then obliterated my best racing records at 5K, 10K and 15K. And not just by a little." -- Jeff Testerman, St. Petersburg Times
"The bottom line is: I ran 20 PR's in 26 races." -- Mark Guralnick, Running Times
About the Author
John L. Parker, Jr. has been writing about runners and running since his competitive days as a member of the early Florida Track Club. His novel, Once a Runner, first published in 1978, has become a cult classic among runners.
The first edition of Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot was widely hailed as the first clear and cogent explanation of heart monitor training for runners. In 1996 using the training principles in this book, Parker finished the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, at age 50, in 2:58:45.As a masters triathlete, he has been ranked nationally, and has completed an Olympic distance triathlon in 2:09:15.
Parker has written for Runner's World, Running Times, The Runner, Ultrasport, Outside, and other magazines. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
Top customer reviews
This book, plus my monitor, has changed the way I train. My easy running is easier (I even stop and walk without guilt!), my hard running is more structured and intense, my injuries are nil and my times are improved. I would recommend it to any runner who is serious or thinking about getting more serious.
I got this book and Parker explains WHY running at this crazy slow pace will help me run at a faster pace when it's race time, and how it will help keep me from burning out and injuring myself, and how after a few weeks of suffering through the embarrassingly slow pace, I will see that that slow pace is somewhat less slow and I'll keep the HR in the target zone.
I have only been following it for a few runs, to be honest. Until I actually read WHY I want to be training like this, I had decided Zone 2 was too slow and it was stupid. I was going to run how I feel. Now I'm actually putting it into practice. My speed hasn't increased yet, but I'm finding it easier to keep my HR in the target zone, which I couldn't do at all when I started. I'm able to deal with the longer runs better than I was and look forward to my hard runs more.
I've got just about 6 weeks left of winter maintenance and then I start bringing in a higher level of training. I'm thinking that this method will have served me well when it's time to go!
Several of the reviewers here have stated that this book is only for runners. I would have to disagree. Having read the book from front to back, you can apply much of the heart rate training advice to any sport. I'm not an avid runner, but I love my rowing machine and this book has helped me realize that I'm really overtraining at times, which explains why some days I seem to gain a pound even though I know that I worked my tail off the day before. Or some days when I'm rowing (or walking) and I feel that I haven't gotten in much effort, and yet I lose a pound.
It's all in the science. I really appreciated the chapter on the science behind how the muscles work with both fat and glycogen.
Why only four stars? Sadly, the editing in this book is terrible. There are typos galore, and page 62 refers to a diagram on page 70 which doesn't exist!
Is it that bad? The advice in the book is sound, but the editing problems don't really make for a pleasant reading experience. Still, I'd recommend this book if you can find a copy because it has comprehensive and helpful advice.
And, yes, while I'm not an avid runner, this book has inspired me to start a running program this summer.
Pro's: John Parker has an informal writing style and makes a clear presentation of a relatively basic, yet effective method for improving athletic performance. The author has some ingenious ideas for determining heart rate and training, but hear me now and listen to me later, this book is a presentation of the "easy/hard" training system which as the author notes, we all talk about but seldom quite get it right. This book is geared to running, but with some effort the reader can apply the lessons to any endurance based training. Much less self-promotion than some other books on the market that I've come across or purchased and this book logically progresses in each successive chapter. I especially liked the chapter's where other athlete's explained their experiences with this system and using heart rate monitors. After reading this book I felt more motivated to train and better equipped to use my heart rate monitor in a basic way.
Con's: Not quite accessible to the real beginner in my opinion, and the the presentation would benefit with other training plans (use of intervals on hard days, etc.) as well as a discussion of methods of determining over-training or discussion of the various heart rate systems. I would love to read a cogent analysis of Polar heart rate monitor systems as compared with Nike, Adidas, Garmin and the other's now on the market. adidas miCoach Zone
Overall: I'm glad I have this book and it will stay on my shelf for those days where I think I too know better than my body tells me. This book is well worth the nominal investment and as a bottom line: John Parker's "easy/hard" system works well.