What Run Oregon is Reading: Core Envy & Running Your First Ultra

When Run Oregon is relaxing after a day of running, we sometimes like curling up in front of the fire with a good book. Below area  few that have been passed along to us.

Book: Core Envy by Allison Westfahl
Cost$16.79 on Amazon (can also be purchased at Target and various local bookstores, as well as at Allison Westfahl’s website.
Review by: Annette Vaughan

This book is slated as a 3-Step guide to a strong, sexy core. The first thing that stood out to me in reading this book was Westfahl’s explanation of what the “core” actually is. As the term “core” is basically a fitness industry creation, it can be a bit vague. While the vast majority of people believe a strong core means you have great abs, Westfahl explains that the core is actually all of the muscles connected to the pelvis and the spine; the muscles that stabilize your entire body. As a trainer who is constantly explaining this to clients, I greatly appreciated her thorough explanation.

This book is broken into 3 categories:

  • Core Envy Sculpting Exercises
  • Core Envy Cardio Workouts
  • The Core Envy Diet.

I was glad to see that Core Envy focuses on a balance of each aspect for best results.   Each exercise includes a written description, photos, and 3 different levels of difficulty. This gives beginners a great starting point and the advanced exerciser a variety of options and challenges. The exercises are not just ab exercises as you might expect, but include all your “core” muscles in a variety of ways. Westfahl even includes lunges, since they strengthen and help stabilize your hips/pelvis. (That made this trainer happy!)

The Cardio Workouts may seem like they don’t apply to runners, but all things are adaptable. The cardio focus is on intervals, as Westfahl has found that the body adapts to things like long distance running and becomes more efficient (translation: burns less calories) the more you do it. She does include low intensity steady state cardio one time per week in her plan, but it is never for more than 50 minutes.

An 8 week exercise plan is included, as well. While this is a great resource, I found that it was a bit of a challenge to translate. It is laid out pretty simply, but you have to flip to different sections of the book to find out she means by “HIIT Workout 1” or “Balance & Isometrics, Exercises 1-5.”

The Core Envy Diet is based on calorie counting and has a formula for you to figure out what your calorie intake should be. The book includes a list of acceptable Core Envy foods and how much of each is a 100 calorie portion. Westfahl’s diet plan is fairly well-balanced and is all about real food. She believes you should be gluten-free, even if you aren’t gluten sensitive. Included in the book are meal suggestions and even some recipes.


Book: Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl
Cost: Approximately $16 on Amazon (Kindle versions available); Can also be found Barnes and and Nook
Review by: Jessica Mumme

"Running Your First Ultra" features customizable training plans for your first 50K to 100-mile race. By Krissy Moehl.

“Running Your First Ultra” features customizable training plans for your first 50K to 100-mile race. By Krissy Moehl.

Krissy Moehl is a rock-star, an idol, and an amazing runner and person in my mind. When I was able to get my hands on her book “Running Your First Ultramarathon”, I was ‘star struck’!

In September 2015, I personally had completed my first ultra marathon. I did not utilize a distinct training plan for my 50K, instead, I just ran a whole lot, and participated in a lot of races that made me run above half marathon distance lots. Not necessarily the way I would encourage fellow first time ultra runners to take to their training. It worked for me, thankfully, but it could have gone south at any moment.

This book is broken in 14 distinct sections: Finding Your Distance: Ultramarathon Q&A, Which One Will You Run?, Tricks of the Trade, Train Your Brain, Training Plans, Injury Management & Prevention, Your Team, Gear, Run Like a Girl, Dig Deep and Discover, Race Day Preparations: Ready? Set?, GO!, Recover, and What is Next?

A special shout-out to the “Finding Your Distance: Ultramarathon Q&A” chapter. I wish I would have had access to this before I decided on my first 50K. Why? Well, because I probably would have thrown in a 50-Miler, too, as sick as that sounds. This short quiz will really focus you in on what distance you should focus on. And having a goal (50K, 50-miler, 100K, 100-miler) will then allow you to really hone in on your training, instead of just saying (like I did), “Gosh, I will run an ultra marathon this year. I don’t know what distance or which race exactly, though, but I’ll find one on the fly.”

Also, the “Train Your Brain” chapter is the one I would urge any aspiring ultra runner to read, read again, then read again. My ultra was 100% a brain-game. Sure, it was physically tough, but the brain was what could make-or-break you. Krissy does an amazing job talking about why training your brain is so essential.

The training plans are very detailed, but easy to understand and follow. The plans take you through a ‘base phase’, then a ‘recovery’ phase, onto the ‘hills/strength phase’, back to ‘recovery’, then the ‘speed phase’, ‘endurance phase’, ‘fine tuning’, ‘taper’, and ‘race week’ (with more ‘recovery’ thrown in between each group). Each day of your training is also color coded in green, blue, or yellow to indicate if the day will be more of an easy or rest day, steady effort or long distance day, or if speed/hills is the focus. Core strength exercises are added to some of the days.

I love this book. I wish I had this book last year for my 50K training and execution. And Krissy is an amazing athlete and person. I highly recommend any aspiring, or seasoned, ultra distance runners check our her book.

Run Oregon receives products to review from time to time. While we appreciate the companies that provide us with items to check out, please note that the feelings and words in our reviews are entirely our own.


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