Recently I got to read the new Runner's World book, The Runner's Brain. I was interested in reading this book in part because of the title. There are many things that I have worked on over the years to improve my fitness, racing and so on, but never have I really thought about how the brain impacts all of these. I've always thought about positive reinforcement and those types of things, but never have I delved into the inner workings of the brain and running.
So without going chapter by chapter and what the book explains, I'll give a high level of it, plus I want everyone to pick it up and take it for a spin. For the record, I don't get anything if you do. I don't get a dollar, a free Runner's World magazine, or anything. I am just a fellow runner who wants to help out other athletes.
The main thing that I really enjoyed about the book is that for everything that was explained, they backed it up with scientific studies explaining their data. Being a nerd that I am, I enjoyed knowing that there was scientific proof to what was being explained. This helps things to be believable.
Parts of the book explain how running affects the brain and how running improves memory, "age proof" the brain, and makes us happy after we run. I'm sure we all knew this but having it explained really brings things out to the open.
Some of the most interesting and readable parts of the book are the explanations about superstitions (we all have them, right?), how to manage both pre-race jitters as well as post race blues, and a real in depth explanation about the "runner's high" and how to achieve it. I'm glad I read that part since I have never experienced the runner's high so now I know how to achieve it, though I don't think I will even knowing what to look for.
Other intriguing and helpful parts of The Runner's Brain is what to think about during your runs, both internal thoughts, as well as external ones. These can help you get through your runs and how to deviate your mind in the times of pain. This can also be helpful in long races where you "hit the wall" and need to find a way to break through it. The book does a great job explaining the psychosis of hitting the wall, which is something we have all experienced.
Without going in to more detail about the book, I found it a very quick and easy read to get through. This book is about running so it's not like it's an intense read and since we all want to get better, what you learn in this book can definitely help. There is also a reference to one of my favorite shows ever, "How I Met Your Mother" so that is definitely a plus in my book. The first chapter was about the Boston Marathon 2013, which I have a connection to for running it in, but I think in some ways, I'm not a fan of everything being tied to that horrific event. I understand it's a book about running, and no one can ever forget what happened that day, but I feel to try and tie this book into that day might have been a wrong call and turned me off a little.
The Runner's Brain is a very good book with a lot of scientific proof of why things work the way they do. I think this book is perfect for the novice runner or intermediate runner. A veteran runner usually knows most of the things in the book because they have experienced it themselves, so I am not sure they would get a lot out of it, even though I took a few nuggets from the read. The holidays are coming so it would be a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life.
Below is the link to check out the book:
Link to "The Runner's Brain"