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 Jack Daniels: The Book, Not The Whiskey
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Fri Dec 31, 2004 10:50 am
Jack Daniels' book Daniels' Running Formula won't teach you how to distill whiskey, but it will give you an excellent course in the science of sports medicine for runners. Rising above the ocean of fad training guides that are published every year, Daniels' book stands out with detailed, scientifically validated advice. It has helped thousands of runners take the next step towards better, more effective training techniques. If you're the type of person who wants to know WHY a particular technique is recommended instead of blindly following someone else's training recipe, you'll love this book.

Daniels begins with the observation that random training will produce random results. To reach your peak performance, you must follow a well-constructed training plan designed to produce specific physiological improvements. Daniels provides a periodized training plan divided into four major phases: base building, endurance building, speed building, and tapering/racing.

The explanations of the purposes of each phase and the science behind them is where this book shines. Daniels has a PhD in sports medicine, and has done decades of research into the training of endurance runners. Improvements don't "just happen" because of training, but instead are the result of specific changes that happen in the body, changes that his training programs are designed to bring about with maximum effectiveness. For example, base training strengthens the heart, enabling it to pump more blood with each stroke. Blood volume increases, enabling more oxygen to be carried to the running muscles. Blood vessels become larger, and new vessels form, delivering blood more efficiently. More and larger mitochondria form in the muscle cells, increasing their oxygen-burning capacity.

Daniels introduces a concept called VDOT to measure an individual's current fitness level, and provides several tables for determining VDOT from race times and using it to set workout paces. This is one of the most popular features of the book, making is easy for runners to measure their progress and set paces for training runs that are most effective at producing the desired physical adaptations. The Runworks calculator uses Daniels' VDOT formulas, and generates the same results as the tables from the book.

After having read quite a few training guides, the others all start to look like paraphrasings of Daniels. Pfitzinger and Douglas' Advanced Marathoning is a good training guide, and covers the same topics, but seems slightly vague and confusing in parts compared with Daniels. The reader gets the sense that the authors of the other guides all read Daniels first and used it to create the outline for their own books, but lacked the scientific background needed to explain the material as well as the original does.

The only place where Daniels' book may disappoint some people is in the training schedules provided. Some runners prefer the presentation of a day-by-day training schedule that spells out the type and distance of each day's run. Daniels does not provide such a schedule. Instead, he offers a schedule that shows what to focus on each week, and the types of workouts recommended, but leaves the exact distribution and distance of workouts up to the individual. While some readers may find this frustrating, they will probably be better served by taking the time to create their own customized schedule from Daniels' template than by following someone else's "one size fits all" program.



OldManRunner
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Rochester, NY
Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 262

Re: Jack Daniels: The Book, Not The Whiskey Posted: Sat Jan 01, 2005 8:40 am 

This is definely the best training book I've ever come by. I've probably read most of it 3x in the year or so that I've owned it, and refer to the VDOT tables frequently while in formal training periods. As Rickshaw said, what differentiates this book from most others is the emphasis on the WHY, in addition to the WHAT. WHY you shouldn't cheat and give yourself extra recovery time during VO2Max workouts, WHY you should try to maintain or pick-up the pace during the late miles of your longest runs, WHY you should really run your easy mileage at an easy pace, and WHY you shouldn't waste time and effort running mileage in the "no man's land" pace range between your easy pace and your tempo pace (except for intentional marathon pace runs). A must-read for anyone really interested in bringing down their race times!

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