Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Salt Path

Friday, February 19th, 2021 | Books

The Salt Path is a non-fiction book by Raynor Winn. It is technically travel writing as it tells the story of her and her partner walking the 630-mile South West Coast Path after they are made homeless and her partner receives a terminal illness diagnosis.

It certainly starts on a negative note. But despite the premise, the story quickly becomes a heartwarming tale as the two discover new resources within themselves. Winn is a funny and entertaining writer and the story is captivating throughout.

Crooked House

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 | Books

Crooked House is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It is one of the few that stands alone without any of Christie’s regular detective characters. It was okay. I didn’t have to force myself to finish it but it wasn’t amazing.

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

Saturday, February 13th, 2021 | Books

Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance is a book by Jason Koop. Koop is an ultra coach and I like his book a lot. It challenges some conventional logic but does so with a heavy dose of academic referencing and modern theory on training.

One of the major premises of the book is that you should focus on fitness. This is often forgotten about with ultras. Many runners, including Laz Lake, will preach the benefits of miles and miles of training. And it is true you need to run a lot. But ultra runners should also do tempo runs and interval training. Why? Because if you increase your VO2 max by 10%, that makes running slowly 10% easier, too. And even running slowly is hard when you have to do it for 160 kilometres.

He follows a reverse periodisation model where you work on the least important things farthest away. In a traditional periodisation model, you would work on base fitness and add in speed work later. But Koop starts with speed work and then moves onto getting increasingly specific to the race as we move into the season.

If you want to deep dive into ultrarunning training theory, this is a great book.

Relentless Forward Progress

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021 | Books

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons is a book Bryon Powell.

I have read so many books on ultras recently, I am not going to say too much about them for fear I am confusing different books. But everything about this book was very good. On balance, I prefer it to Hal Koerner’s Field Guidem which is also a good read. But the advice in Powell’s book feels a little more practical, comprehensive and accessible.

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 | Books

Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning: Training for an Ultramarathon, from 50K to 100 Miles and Beyond is a book by Hal Koerner (pretty obviously). Koerner is an ultrarunner who has won many of the famous American ultras including Western States, Javelina Jundred and Hardrock.

It is a solid book with plenty of advice. I would recommend it to anyone getting into ultra running.

Minimalist’s Guide to Running an Ultramarathon

Friday, January 29th, 2021 | Books

I read this book in about 20 minutes. I’m not against shorts books as long as they deliver value, but to me, this read like a rambling monologue with very little structure and I did not learn much about ultra running.

Muscle Myths

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 | Books

Muscle Myths: 50 Health & Fitness Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making is a book by Michael Matthews. I don’t think it’s the cyclist. It’s a pretty good book. There are academic references and most of the stuff agreed with what I have been taught in an academic setting, which is a more legit version of confirmation bias.

Below, I’ll discuss some of my key takeaways. The book’s claims are in quote marks with my commentary next to it.

“Free weights work better than machines.” Machines isolate muscles which can be useful if you need to train specific muscles, but if you just want to generally get stronger, free weights are my goto as well.

“Aim for 1-6 reps with at least 3-minute rest between sets.” If you want to get strong use heavy weights and low reps. If you want to get big muscles you might want to do things differently. Or maybe get over your ego ;).

“You don’t need strong abs, just a body get percentage under 12%.” If I ever get my body fat down to 12% I will be excited to find out if this is true.

“Training in a fasted state (2-3 hours of not eating) will accelerate fat burning but also muscle breakdown.” Yes! Someone finally talked about this. If you don’t have any glycogen left, you break down muscle and not fat. So, you need to pick whether you want to gain both or lose both.

“BCAA supplements will suppress muscle breakdown and green tea extract at 600-900 mg per day can help, too.” Interesting. I would like to burn fat and maintain muscle. But I don’t know enough about these supplements to comment.

“You need phases of bulking and cutting because you cannot do both.” As discussed above.

“Low rep heavy weights increase your metabolic rate, too.” If true, another reason to lift heavy.

“High-intensity cardio can burn fat but we don’t know why. Possibly by raising the metabolic rate.” Yep, it’s a mystery. When you do HIIT, you burn glycogen and the body cannot convert fat into glycogen because they are totally different. So, how does it burn the fat? We don’t know. But it seems to, so HIIT can be an alternative to long slow runs in the fat-burning zone.

“Cardio and strength training should be separate.” Controersial. Matthews recommends strength then cardio, but British Triathlon say it should be cardio then strength.

“Size of meal is not important so you can eat large or small, and eat breakfast or not. Calories are what matters.” Alas, one single 5,000 kcal meal isn’t going to be the secret path to skinny. Nor is a small meal every 30 minutes.

“Not drinking water with meals is nonsense.” Of course it is! Who said this? You should drink water with meals because it will make you feel satiated quicker.

Controlling hunger

I like this list because it is pretty similar to the list I use in my Nudge Nutrition course and it is always comforting to know you haven’t just made stuff up.

  • Eat lots of protein (30-40% of your intake)
  • High carb low-fat to increase your leptin levels
  • Drink water
  • Eat fibre
  • Avoid high GI foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Get enough sleep

Supplements that work

I like this list, too. Caffeine and creatine are widely recognised as effective.

  • Protein powder
  • Creatine
  • Vitamins you are deficient in
  • Fish oil
  • Glutamine
  • Pre workout energy drink

The A.B.C. Murders

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 | Books

THe A.B.C Murders is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot trying to solve a series of alphabetically-organised murders.

As I have commented in previous reviews, once you have read And Then There Were None, All other novels are inferior. But I did enjoy this one. The ending is okay but the story is entertaining throughout. Maybe ranks third behind And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express.

Peril at End House

Saturday, November 21st, 2020 | Books

Peril at End House is an Agatha Christie novel. It features Hercule Poirot who is on holiday when he finds himself drawn into investigating the attempted murders of Nick Buckley. It’s pretty good but not one of my favourites.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Friday, November 20th, 2020 | Books

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot and is the second novel I have read to feature the character.

Spoiler alert: there is a twist at the end. And more spoilers below. I wasn’t a big fan of the twist, but it is a well-written novel and I think most people would like it. Anyhow, It was an enjoyable read but I found Caroline Sheppard an annoying character and the whole nursing home a bit strange.