Book Review – Run For Your Life

When we started this blog, we intended it to be a place torunlife review books and podcast episodes – bringing you the best of the best so you wouldn’t have to filter through all the “noise” to get to the really good stuff.  We’ve not been doing that very well, but here’s an attempt to get back to it.  We are, after all, addicted to content consumption!

I love to read.  And by read, I mean listen to Audible books.  Who has time to sit down and actually open a book these days?  I wish I did, but the only way I can plow through my reading list is to multitask.  I love having someone read to me while I’m traveling or commuting to work.  It also helps pass the time while I’m on my bike trainer or the elliptical.  Thanks to Audible, I’m “reading” more books than ever!

I just “read” “Run For Your Life” by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella.  The full title, Run for Your Life: How to Run, Walk, and Move Without Pain or Injury and Achieve a Sense of Well-Being and Joy, is more descriptive.  It’s probably one of the best, most comprehensive running books I’ve read yet (and I have read quite a few!!).  This guy gets it.  He has such a long-term view of running and the benefits of making healthy choices now and for the rest of your life.  The choices we make now are an investment in our long-term well-being.  He is a doctor after all, but he discusses in his book that medical doctors are not trained much at all on this.  Doctors in our country are trained to fix the symptoms, and not look at the entire body to determine a root cause of an issue (a pet peeve of mine with our healthcare system).

Dr. Cucuzzella covers all the topics, including good form, injury prevention, good running and training habits, and nutrition.  Most importantly, he believes running should be joyful – and it should not add stress to your life.  He talks a lot about running in his book but promotes movement in general.  Moving should be joyful and it should feel natural.  He encourages readers to get off the couch and move – and move constantly throughout the day.  Don’t just run 8 miles in the morning and be sedentary for the rest of the day.  When it comes to smart training, he endorses Maffetone method with a long, slow build up.  He believes that you should listen to your body first and foremost and run for physiological adaptation, not pace or distance.  He’s also a big proponent of running hills (but with good technique) to build strength – something I can get behind!

He talks a lot about posture and form, but it all starts with posture.  To support this, the audiobook comes with a 177-page PDF where there are diagrams for literally everything – proper joint movement, drills – you name it.  I haven’t gotten through all of this yet, but I’ll sure keep it as reference!  The book reminded me a lot of “Blue Zones” in that he covers habits for a long and healthy life and “Anatomy for Runners” with the good running form and posture.

On nutrition, he of course says that we cannot outrun a bad diet.  This is so true!!  Of course, most runners know this, but I don’t think the general population does. Americans spend far less on food than we do healthcare.  In 1960, we only spent 1/3 of what we spent on food on healthcare.  Today, Americans spend more than $10k per person on healthcare annually and our food spending is half of that per person – and it includes dining out!!  Wouldn’t it be way more enjoyable to switch that?? More delicious, healthy meals, less healthcare??

Not only is Mark a doctor, he also owns a running store, Two Rivers Treads, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  It’s only about 30 minutes away from where my mother-in-law lives, so I’m going to visit one day!  The store promotes running in “less shoe”, but more importantly, healthy movement and community.  Coincidentally, I recently stumbled upon the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon and I learned in this book that Mark co-directs it.  It seems like his flagship race is the Freedom Run though – he is establishing a community of people who are interested in the benefits of physical fitness.

Dr. Cucuzzella references Teddy Roosevelt’s and JFK’s views on physical fitness, which I found particularly interesting.  Some further research turned up this quote:

“We want a nation of participants in the vigorous life. This is not a matter which can be settled, of course, from Washington. It is really a matter which starts with each individual family.” –President John F. Kennedy, 1961

This book is well-worth your time.  Have you read it?  Let us know what you think!!

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