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Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot Paperback – August 1, 2009
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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.
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.
I run because it just feels good when it's over. And it makes my body look downright pretty.
I bought this book because I wasn't feeling good anymore. I found myself feeling really tired and burned out after four or five weeks and taking a week off just to end up at Square Two or Three again.
What this book did was teach me to use my HRM as a personal trainer. At first, it was difficult to stick to the advice. My body wanted to go faster and my watch kept telling me to slow down. When I finally surrendered and decided to just "trust" the science, everything started to fall into place. Everything!
Someone talked about it being a difficult book for beginners, but the truth is, that if you come with a heart that beats, you can use this method. You simply need to walk, crawl, run within your heart range and the rest will follow.
I think beginners will benefit the most soonest because they haven't adopted bad habits (or delusions of grandeur, of which I am guilty). Just be sure to invest in a good HRM (I love the Polar F4) and you're off.
The only reason I didn't give it the full five stars was because some of the scientific information was tough to follow. I had to sit down and digest that, reading it three times, and am still not clear on how the body uses fat for fuel. I read this several months ago and will go through it again to see if it's clearer, but you don't need to understand that to adhere to the principles and see the results. I, however, prefer to know WHY and HOW things work.
Other than that, a gift for all runners, walkers, and crawlers.
John L. Parker does a fantastic job breaking down the complex physiology of heart rate monitor training into a readable yet informative text. It truely is heart rate training for the complete idiot (like me). Runners of any level will benefit from learning the principles Parker puts forth in the book.
This book should be a part of EVERY runner's library. By the way, I am 48 and a mid to back of the pack runner.
I have read some comments about Parker's training schedules from the book, and they are legitimate concerns. But if any runner learns the principles within the book, they can be applied to your own, individual training schedule.
I only wish John Parker had a website or some other non-fiction to read. He is only known for his novel "Once A Runner", but nothing is ever mentioned about this masterpiece.
2 thumbs up!