Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Than Just A Running Book

Over the years my idea of the ideal running book has changed. I used to look only for the books with training schedules and related info that could make me a faster distance runner. I have since found that my focus has changed. Although running faster is still important to me,I find myself appreciating more the running books that address living a long,healthy and fit life.                                                                                           No book does this better than the Van Aaken Method (Finding the Endurance to Run Faster and Live Healthier) by Dr.Ernst van Aaken. Readers to this blog know that I have referenced Van Aaken on several previous occasions.As a medical doctor,one-time runner and coach to several successful runners,he studied and wrote about endurance training(running),diet,and the effects of both on the body beginning in the 1940's.

I recall when I first purchased this book many years ago I went immediately to the chapters that spoke specifically about training. That was a mistake. I say this because Van Aaken correctly recognized that many different factors are necessary to not only achieve optimal fitness, but overall health. Actually to him,optimal fitness and overall health are one and the same.An example,in the chapter, The Basis of Life,Van Aaken provides a convincing argument on how our intake of oxygen and the expedient use of it in our body is more important than what we eat. I should add that he in no way advocates eating whatever you want. He provides solid advice on what to eat and what not to eat but also explains how the intake of oxygen during aerobic exercise(running) strengthens the heart and distributes oxygen to every part of your body like no other form of exercise can.I am giving a condensed and simplistic explanation of what he writes in his book here.

With that said,this book gives much information in a readable and non-technical way.Yes, there is plenty on training and all things connected with it for all types of runners, but, this man has the personal experience,the medical training and the passion for running that validates the truth of what he writes. He recognizes that distance running is an essential activity(attention Dr.Cooper and Mr.Galloway) when done correctly.
Lastly,I'd be remiss not to mention another important key to Van Aaken's health and running program,the necessity of maintaining a low body weight.He has written that distance runners should be 10 to 20% below their recommended ideal weight. He again ties this in with developing optimal oxygen intake,oxygen distribution to the body, heart health and running your best.In addition,he gives a convincing argument for systematic undereating as a means to living a long healthy life.This is not starving yourself but a way of restricting your intake of food and limiting the desire to eat whenever you feel like it. This way of eating has been the subject of several books in recent years that claim it's the key to longevity and health.Just think of it,Dr.Van Aaken began writing on this subject 60+ years ago.

I thought of writing this post a few days back when I did a search for this book on and saw it was selling for 85 cents at one bookstore. I was shocked, here it was, a book that was better than any I had seen last week in the running section at Barnes and Noble and it was going for literally pennies.I bought it and sent it to a family member who believes, like far too many Americans, that diet is the key to a long, healthy life. I think copies are now going for $3+, this book is worth a whole lot more then that. If you've never read it, pick up a copy,you got everything to gain from doing so.

1 comment:

  1. "Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately, and don't eat like a pig."