I recently got a review copy of the third edition of the Daniels Running Formula and devoured it from cover to cover. Well, not quite cover to cover, because the last section was on marathon training plans, and I have no plans to run a marathon any time soon (or ever — but that is the subject for another column).
Author Jack Daniels is a well-known running coach whose website offers a very useful running calculator (plug in a recent race distance/time, and it’ll spit out predictions for how you’ll do at other distances; and also provide training paces). He also offers private coaching services, but I’m guessing it’s pretty pricey considering the caliber of runners he coaches.
However, the Daniels Running Formula offers a pretty good substitute for individualized coaching. It doesn’t claim to have newfound way that you should run (for example, there’s a very brief discussion of footstrike, but it’s only a page and doesn’t advocate for forefoot over heel strike), nor does it recommend (or reject) minimalist footwear. Rather, it provides a traditional approach to training for races based on accomplishing different goals with each particular run, with blocks of periodization to focus on holding on to gains already achieved while building toward new ones.
Much of this material can be found on the Internet if you know where to look for it. But if you like having a book to read through and consult periodically, this is a terrific resource. What works well about it as a self-coaching guide is that it provides information about how to figure out your own ideal pacing for easy runs, threshold runs (i.e., tempo runs), and hard runs (intervals/repetitions).
If you want to get faster at running, this is one book you should definitely consider getting.
Around the same time, I also bought a used copy of The Self-Coached Runner by Allan Lawrence and Mark Scheid. In format, this is similar to the Daniels Running Formula, but not quite as technically detailed. In some ways, The Self-Coached Runner is easier to use, because it’s got specific training plans based on race distance and desired time goals.
For example, let’s say you’re a 10K runner. It’s got sections on how to train to run a 60 minute 10K, a 50 minute 10K, a 45 minute 10K, a 42:30 10K, a 40 minute 10K, and so on. Each one of those will provide a weekly training plan, broken up (like Daniels Running Formula) into long slow runs, interval repetitions, and so on.
The Self-Coached Runner is out of print as far as I know, but Amazon has plenty of used copies available at fairly cheap prices. Between the two, I personally refer back more to the Daniels Running Formula, but that may be because the charts and details appeal to my math/science side.
(Related: I previously posted some short reviews of a bunch of running-related books here.)