Jeff Horowitz, in his ‘Quick Strength for Runners’ book, seeks to tackle the issue, by providing a complete overview of everything strength and conditioning related that an amateur runner needs to know. The opening chapter sets out clearly, in easy-to-read sections, exactly why we need to strength train and how doing so differs from cross-training. It explains the terminology of strength training, and clarifies how balance, core strength and run-specific strength work together to improve running efficiency. The explanations and illustrations of the key muscles and muscle groups are extremely clear and easy to understand, and Horowitz spends time detailing how they are deployed during the various phases of running.
Moving onto the programme of exercises itself, Horowitz sets out 40 exercises to promote good strength for running. Each is introduced by setting out exactly which muscles the exercise develops and how many reps should be completed. As well as short, clear explanations for each phase of the movement, high quality photographs show exactly what good form looks like. Advanced options are given for each strengthening exercise, and tips and coaches notes add further detail to maximise performance and progress. The simplicity and clarity of the pages make the instructions very easy to follow indeed.
Beyond the individual exercises, Horowitz then combines them into a progressive 8-week programme, based on two 20-minute sessions per week. Again, the programme is very clear and simple to follow, setting out the sequence of exercises and number of reps. For those who want or need to continue strength training whilst on the road for work or holiday, hotel-room workouts are provided, based on the use of minimal space and equipment. Finally, Horowitz takes a brief look at what to do once the programme has finished, and what to watch for in terms of injury.
Overall, this is a very clear, informative book, achieving a good balance between the exercises that will benefit runners’ strength and the theory behind them. The photographs showing good form are outstanding, and, supplemented by the succinct instructions for each phase of movement, mean that the book can (and should!) be taken to the gym, the garage or the garden and used during workouts. Whilst not specifically targeted at trail runners, this book most definitely deserves a place on every trail, fell and mountain runner’s shelf.
As runners, the more experienced we are, the more we know what we should be doing in order to stay fit, healthy and performing at our best. Yet although we know the theory, putting it into practice is often another matter. Unless we are professional athletes, time to train is usually limited and as runners we tend to prioritise those precious hours and minutes for what we want to do most of all; to run! Strength and conditioning work is often at the top of the list to be neglected, and if we do get round to doing it, we are not really sure exactly what to do or why.